Ratchet & Clank? Tower Defence? MOBA? Did I miss something?
You would be forgiven for not knowing about Insomniac’s new Ratchet & Clank title. There really hasn’t been a lot of coverage and the budget price point suggests the game may only be a fraction of what we are used to from Ratchet & Clank titles. However, as it turns out, Ratchet & Clank: Q-Force is something of a surprise.
The platforming action adventures of Ratchet and his little robot buddy are well known on the PS3. You get excitement, you get humour, you collect nuts and bolts, and you have fun with some really awesome weaponry. So it stands to reason that Q-Force would offer the same, right?
Well, yes and no. whilst the excitement, humour, nuts, bolts and weapons are still there in abundance, the actual gameplay has taken an unusual, and rather enjoyable twist. Q-Force manages to combine the standard gameplay, the running around, attacking enemies and occasional platforming, and combined it with tower defence features.
For each of the levels, of which there are only five, the player has a base that must be protected from the waves of incoming enemies. To achieve this, defences must be constructed on special platforms, such as walls, mines and turrets. The player will also be required to lend their own skills to keeping the base safe from enemies.
Which is where the strategy comes in. Y’see, in order to construct those defences, the player must earn nuts and bolts, and to do that they must leave the base and explore the rest of the level. hunting around and finding crates to smash or enemies to fight potentially leaves the base unprotected, although a handy bar on the right of the screen will tell you when the base is under attack. The player must then rush back to the base and dispatch any enemies.
But leaving the base is a necessity as the player starts with only their melee attack and will have to find weapons distributed around the level, along with ammo which is limited. They will also need to work their way through to the planets defences and actually turn them on, thus stopping the waves of bad guys.
It’s an excellent system, and it works really well. Players will be forced to take the risks for bigger rewards, and in that comes a massive replay factor, which is great considering the relative shortness of the game. Running through the level in a quicker time is very tempting once the player gets to grips with the gameplay.
There is a story as well, and some wonderfully funny cut-scenes. Essentially, Captain Qwark, Ratchet and Clank have formed the Q-Force to protect the galaxy from evil, but a character from Qwark’s past has returned to cause some havok by turning off the planetary defence systems on some of the planets. It may not be the deepest of storylines, but fans of the series will be pleasantly surprised and it provides a good platform for some silly humour.
When it comes to the multiplayer, things take another turn by heading down the Multiplayer Online Battle Arena road. Here, players first run around, gathering resources and capturing nodes. Then each player will prepare both their defences and their attacking force. Finally, the attacks begin. It’s thoroughly entertaining and damn good fun. The only downside is that once again the content is a bit light on the ground, with only three maps available.
Visually, the game carries that classic Ratchet & Clank style even if it plays quite differently. The enemies are varied and the weapons are, as always, highly enjoyable. The only real problem with Ratchet & Clank: Q-Force is the shortness of content. The single player game clocks in at around six hours and, whilst there is plenty of reason to replay the levels for better results or unlockables, the player is just left wanting more. If this is an experiment to see if the format works, please take my money and release a full game!
Ratchet & Clank: Q-Force is a pleasant surprise. Insomniac have mixed up the gameplay to provide a very different experience. It may be over a bit too quickly, but the bargain price tag ensures that Q-Force is well worth the money. Drop in the fact that buying the game will allow the player to download the Vita version when it is launched, and you really would be silly to pass on this. Get it now, or as soon as you have enough nuts and bolts.