Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault Review

Developer:

Insomniac Games

Publisher:

Sony Computer Entertainment

Console(s):

PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita

Release Date(s):

(US) November 27, 2012/ (EU) November 30, 2012

Player(s):

Single-player, 2 player co-op, 4 player multiplayer

-Jovan St. Lawrence

Nothing more than a “neat experiment”

The Ratchet & Clank franchise has officially survived 10 years. As the main developer of the series, Insomniac Games could have celebrated this momentous occasion by playing it safe and releasing only the Ratchet & Clank Collection along with Ratchet: Deadlocked all with full trophy support, and in HD resolution and everyone would have loved it just the same. However, we got Full Frontal Assault (known as Ratchet & Clank: Q-Force in PAL regions) which utilizes Tower Defense gameplay mechanics, never seen before in the Ratchet & Clank games. So I ask you dear readers: Do you enjoy the fact that a cherished action-adventure platformer is celebrating its 10th anniversary with a real time strategy spin off? I’ll let you decide…. but the answer’s no.

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Best Worst Single-Player

The plot in Full Frontal Assault is about as interesting as watching grass grow. In a nutshell, bad things happen while Ratchet, Clank, & Quark are flying around in space and they are the only ones who can make things right. And that’s it. This leads to you traversing different planets and restarting their defense systems. You go about doing this by collecting weapons and shooting your way through enemies. The five levels are large and open with hidden collectibles that extend the playtime somewhat. That being said, this “campaign” serves nothing more than a tutorial with the occasional trademark humor and dialogue that R&C is well known for.

Tower Defense… With Friends!

Let’s talk about the somewhat fulfilling competitive multiplayer in Full Frontal Assault. The online competitive mode is very similar to what you’ll find in DOTA (The Warcraft III mod, Defense of the Ancients) for the most part. You can choose 1v1 or play with a friend in 2v2. The overall point is to destroy all 6 generators on your opponent’s base while ensuring that at least one of your generators survives. Matches involve phases, the first of which is the player or players capturing nodes to eventually earn bolts. Bolts will be your currency to spend in the second phase.

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During the second phase, you can spend bolts on various defenses such as turrets, barriers, mines, and mobile forces that assault the enemy base. This is actually a very strategic mechanic because you aren’t given many bolts to work with most of the time. You are left with a difficult choice to make at this current point in any given match: Do I spend my bolts on turrets and barriers to defend myself against the impending assault from my opponent? Or do I use my bolts on mobile troops to take the fight to my opponent’s base? I like this very much because you are forced to make match altering decisions almost in the blink of an eye and that is what makes great tower defense and strategy games. Unfortunately, there are times when your defenses are ineffective to your enemies. The fact that your defenses don’t have the ability to upgrade from their base level makes matters even worse. However, Full Frontal Assault offers enough tactical options for a decent amount of unpredictability in competitive multiplayer.

Now comes the assault phase. Any squads you purchased will now take the fight to your opponent’s base and your base will come under attack by your enemy. The extraordinary arsenal Ratchet & Clank is famous for is most certainly in FFA. There is a drawback to this as well however. Unlike the previous Ratchet games, you can’t purchase new weapons and ammo. Instead, you seek out weapon pods throughout the map. These pods aren’t hard to find but once you acquire a weapon from a certain pod, the pod shuts down and you have to look for another pod if you want a different weapon. Once again, the choice is yours. Do I hang back with my defenses and protect my generators? Or do I penetrate my enemy’s defenses and take out their generators? Throughout your play time in Ranked competitive matches, the system does a pretty good job at find players around your skill level while at the same time slowly scaling the people’s rank higher for you to rank higher.

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For $20 this game does offer a great multiplayer mode that makes for some interesting outcomes with proper and strategic thinking. You also get the Vita version at no extra charge as a part of Sony’s new Cross-Buy feature. Unfortunately, this game only has one multiplayer mode and the single-player falls flat which is incredibly surprising for Ratchet & Clank as a whole. After the arguably worse mess that was All-4-One, in addition to Full Frontal Assault, I just can’t help but worry about where Insomniac is taking this series. Only time will tell if this series and its developers can really bring back what we know and love in this franchise while making it new and refreshing. In the meantime, there’s always the Ratchet & Clank Collection.

The Pros:

  • Nice blend of platforming and strategy
  • Hidden collectibles extend playtime
  • Tower Defense gameplay is well executed 

The Cons:

  • Campaign feels like an extended tutorial
  • One multiplayer mode
  • Occasional ineffectiveness in defenses
  • Very limited use of a great arsenal due to weapon pods

Final Verdict: 6.5/10

At the time of this review, R&C: Full Frontal Assault is $20 both retail & on the PlayStation Store.