Review: Ratchet and Clank launch a Full Frontal Assault on tower defense games, with above average results
For the longest time, Insomniac Games followed a typical, yet highly successful, formula with its Ratchet and Clank games, through third-person adventures that offered a wild variety of weapons, fabulous level designs and plenty of engaging scenarios – as well as some laughs from Captain Qwark. But as of late, the team's been tweaking with said formula, and while the games still remain a delight, they're not entirely following the same route. For instance, last year's Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One become more of a co-op adventure than a usual romp through space. Appreciated, but, for solo players, a bit unnecessary.
And now we have Full Frontal Assault, the latest game from the team, which once again screws with familiarity and comes away with a game that may leave some folks having mixed feelings. That's not to say it's bad, but it definitely doesn't stand as the best in the series.
Rather than taking the usual platforming route like most games, FFA instead braves two new elements – capture the flag and tower defense. You'll fight your way across five levels, taking place on distant planets that require liberation, defending certain generators at a home base while taking over other points on a map by defeating enemies.
There is a grand progression system in place in FFA, as you can earn new weapons and other goodies over the course of the action, really bulking up your arsenal for later rounds. But the general gameplay doesn't change that much, as you're forced to scramble from one point of the map to the other to keep your generators safe, as most of the planetary defenses you can acquire don't quite cut enemies down to size. It can be real frustrating on your own, especially with the final wave of foes that come at you, with a big guy to distract you while smaller ones do significant damage.
That's where the co-op factor proves useful. Friends can join you in either local or online sessions, working together to keep points on a map safe. However, in some cases, this makes the game a bit too easy – it never finds that middle ground where you're challenged enough, but not entirely overcome. It's either too much one way or another.
At least the multiplayer has plenty to offer. Here, full-on teams can battle through the PlayStation Network and try to take each other's bases, while launching an assault on their own kind. We haven't had this much fun with Ratchet and Clank-based multiplayer since the Up Your Arsenal days. This is definitely the way to go.
The presentation is hardly the best we've seen in the Ratchet series, but it's suitable. The planetary design is clever in some spots, and the enemies will spark some familiarity with fans. The main characters animate very well too, and it's nice to see Qwark back in action, even if he is a gamble over the more reliable Ratchet. The voicework continues to be stellar, with great acting by mainstays in the series, along with a few new characters.
Kudos to Sony for pricing this just right, too. At $20, this doesn't quite offer as much value as, say, Ratchet and Clank HD Collection, but it won't bite you in the wallet either if you want to take a gamble on it. (And you get the Vita version for free this January to boot.)
Though Full Frontal Assault probably won't be as fondly remembered as, say, A Crack In Time (its difficulty may be too much for single players to bear, and having only five levels in general really does say a lot for the replayability), it's a decent twist on the usual formula, and still worth a casual look – especially if you've got friends in tow.