Review: Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault
I don’t envy the current Ratchet & Clank team. When the last traditional game in the series, that being A Crack In Time, was defined by many as the best PS3 installment in the franchise, where else is there to go but into the exploration of other styles of gameplay? First we had All 4 One, a lovely if somewhat simplistic co-op adventure, and now we have Full Frontal Assault (Q-Force in Europe). It’s a fun diversion, but you get the feeling that with every Ratchet game that strays away from the classic formula, a little bit of what made the franchise special has been lost. Full Frontal Assault is a fun game in its own right, but what Ratchet that has been left behind feels perfunctory.
The game’s campaign mode is similar to Quest 4 Booty in length, clocking in at just over 4 hours for what seemed to me like an average playthrough. The campaign starts with a fantastic, hilariously written cut-scene setting up the events of the game, and then it throws you straight in to the game’s first tutorial level. It’s then that it becomes apparent how little this feels like a Ratchet & Clank game. While you gain a variety of strange weapons, a lot of them have been recycled from previous titles. It’s nice to be able to use the groovitron again, but it feels like Insomniac is perhaps biding its time until they have more power to play with on a console. As you speed around the map killing enemies and capturing nodes, you’ll fill out your arsenal and collect bolts to spend on your base.
Eventually, enemies will make a break for your base, and you’ll have to drive them back time and again. Once you’ve captured enough nodes and destroyed enough enemy encampments, you’ll get a shot at the planetary defense center, with the reclamation of that ending the level. Played solo, it’s a decent time, but it is in co-op that the game gets particularly frantic and fun. With two players moving around capturing nodes and collecting bolts, the pace of the game increases dramatically. It also helps matters that both players share a bolt count, leading to some tough decisions between friends as to what to purchase.
However, the story for the campaign feels like window dressing, an excuse to move the players to varied locations, eventually culminating in a final boss battle that just tips the scales into tedium. The villain is about as perfect a reference to Ratchet games of old as you can get, but everything in the game from a story perspective feels undercooked. What is there is fantastically executed, but there just isn’t enough of it to give the events any meaning other than “here’s why you need to shoot aliens here”.
The multiplayer in FFA is reason enough to buy it though. Featuring either 1V1 or 2V2 play, it steps up the ante by having each of your nodes generate bolts. It makes capturing and holding nodes far more important, especially with other players trying to steal them off you. Choosing which troops to send out, upgrading every aspect of your team, and even invading your enemy’s base is all fantastic fun whether you know the people or not. I didn’t encounter any notable online issues, and the game’s framerate never seemed to take a hit when playing online. It really was a blast.
Full Frontal Assault might not feel like a Ratchet & Clank game, and as an anniversary celebration that’s about as baffling as you can get, but the game itself is fun enough to justify the asking price. The multiplayer will keep you occupied, there are skill points and gold bolts to collect when playing solo. It also helps that the game is just plain fun when playing with other people. Just don’t buy it if you’re after a big new galaxy to explore with a robot strapped to your back.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation 3 version of the game.
What I Like:
- Story cutscenes are well executed.
- Game runs well and looks good.
- Local split-screen makes tackling the campaign with a friend a breeze
What I Dislike:
- Ratchet & Clank feel like window dressing
- What story is there is barebones