Review: Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault comes up empty on PS Vita
When the original Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault came out for PlayStation 3 last year, it provided a twist on the usual formula for the Insomniac Games series, going more for a RTS defensive style setup instead of the straightforward approach. While I can appreciate the idea of changing a little something in a series to keep it from wearing out its welcome, I just couldn't grasp what Insomniac had in mind for this one. The game can be fun against others, and some of the defensive techniques are cool, but it just felt like a grind as a whole – something best reserved for the true R&C fans.
Worse yet, Full Frontal Assault came up short on a promise. When you bought the PS3 version, you were supposed to get the PS Vita version free of charge. Unfortunately, that edition was nowhere close to done, and ended up being delayed just a little over six months. Insomniac did offer up an HD version of the PS2 classic Ratchet Deadlocked to PS3 owners as a consolation, but that didn't make the wait any less painful.
And now it's here, the PS Vita port of Full Frontal Assault, and players who got into the original game are probably expecting a fairly decent version to take wherever they go. Well, the general structure of FFA is intact, but barely anything else is. That's bad news.
To its credit, Insomniac didn't handle the PS Vita version of FFA. Instead, it was handed to Tin Giant, who rushed to get the game finished in a reasonable frame of time. And, boy, do we mean rushed. This game chugs along at nearly half the pace of the original and comes up with all sorts of problems, to the point you might think your PS Vita is busted. (Relax, it isn't.)
First off, the graphics fail to impress. A lot of the details are missing from this edition of FFA – including a smooth frame rate, as it chugs along even when anything is barely happening onscreen – and some parts look just plain unfinished. There are also bugs throughout, and it can be difficult maneuvering your character up platforms, as they can either get stuck or misjudge a jump because there's no shadow underneath them.
This is on top of the game's excruciatingly long loading times. Seriously, during one match-up, we were waiting well about a full minute before things got started – and this was before we attempted to get online to play others, which can take even longer depending on who you're connecting with.
What's worse, Tin Giant cut a lot of the game's features out completely so that it would meet its release. You can't connect with others through Cross-Play on the PS3 version; you can't play locally with a friend in co-op; and there are fewer match options than in the original game. We couldn't even set up a decent 2 vs. 2 set up, instead opting for a more lopsided match that, surprise, lost connection midway through.
As for the gameplay, it's somewhat intact. I say "somewhat" because the frame rate problems do have an effect on how your soldier performs on the battlefield. At one point, Captain Quark didn't even react the way I expected him to, just because there was so much happening onscreen. And that led to the destruction of our Q-Force base, which brought me even further into the doldrums.
Thankfully, the Vita version of Full Frontal Assault comes free of charge with the PS3 version, so you're not risking anything – outside of the necessary 1.9 GB to store the game – in giving it a try. But, honestly, there's nothing here that could be recommended over the original release. The lack of extra content, vital multiplayer modes, Cross-Play connectivity and any sort of acceptable visual presentation stop this Full Frontal Assault dead in its tracks. We deserved better. And, for that matter, so did Ratchet & Clank.
But, hey, on the bright side, you've always got Deadlocked HD.