Ratchet and Clank are back in the newest installment to the series with ‘Q-Force’ (also called Full Frontal Assault in some countries). Celebrating the series’ 10th anniversary, Insomniac’s ‘surprise game’ takes elements from previous titles and flips them on its head in a crazy new platformer. Whether or not the ‘tower defense’ style of gameplay works or not though, this remains to be seen.
The game itself dares to merge both a platformer and an awkward tower defense game with a sense of god-like power and varied arsenal. Protecting nodes from oncoming waves whilst attempting to explore and destroy enemy objectives is the bread and butter of the game. Switching between both attack and defend modes means that there’s not much of a need for strategy. Overpowered weapons and few challenges combined with the ability to charge into battle and come away unscathed make playing the game more of a chore than the light-hearted platformer expected from the Ratchet and Clank series.
The maps are quite small and feel repetitive and dull resulting in feeling like you’re going nowhere fast, procrastinating instead of progressing. The single player experience hews quite close to previous Ratchet and Clank’s titles, following the familiar platformer style. You work your way through five levels taking out the enemy base of operations as you defend your own. Players gain access to weapons by securing nodes around the map, and earn currency to upgrade their base by smashing crates and enemies and collecting the bolts that burst out of them. While the humor and the weapons redeem the game in traditional R&C style, it’s unfortunately the best thing about the campaign which can be finished in under 5 hours with little effort.
What the single player campaign lacks, it attempts to make up for in the game’s multiplayer section which is split up into three segments of Recon, Squad and Assault. Each one has its own unique goals and outcomes. The recon phase sees players attempt to find and power various nodes, which similarly to the campaign mode will provide weapons and bolts (allowing you to purchase more items). The squad phase allows you to buy troops and ordnance that can be used in the following ‘assault’ phase, when warfare commences. It’s up to the player and your ideal strategy as to whether you wish to attack or defend, though the ultimate goal to win the game is to destroy all six generators within the enemy base.
The multiplayer itself, while entertaining and where the game’s true value lies; it finds it difficult to balance and match players of the same skill level. An opponent can wipe the floor with you should they have the in-game money and experience to do so in an unfortunate unbalanced match-up. While designed in a way to make a comeback in each of the different phases, thus providing more chances for the losing player, it does little to ease the imbalance.
Q-Force, while not a mentally challenging game, is beautifully animated. While it appears to be quite simple at first glance, the small details are the most impressive. From the movement of hair on Ratchet’s body, to object textures the series itself has come a long way. Movements are fluid, particularly the use of the jet pack which makes for a pleasing visual experience. The style itself does not differ from the series using the traditional cartoony and exaggerated designs, which aside from some of the witty dialogue, furthers the indication that this is a game meant for a younger audience.
Definitely one of the game’s strong points. The new addition to the franchise, as mentioned previously, still manages to incorporate the witty, and sometimes adult dialogue into the game script. Lines are delivered well, although in a manner that still entertains the younger audience who may not get some of the jokes. The speed and direction in which the dialogue takes place is also an asset to the game as characters talk only when necessary to the ‘plot’ giving you more time to smash your way through each level. The in game’s soundtrack skilfully combines fast-paced and energetic tracks with a futuristic, space-like feel as you explore various planets and launch your attack on unsuspecting enemies. Weapons also give a satisfying effect when fired, reminding you that there is little that stands in your way… at least until you run out of ammo.
Being the kind of game it is (and meant for a specific audience) the lack of challenge and variety doesn’t provide a very stimulating play through and even the five hour single player campaign becomes a struggle to finish. That being said, any replay value the game has comes from its multiplayer campaign which can provide additional game play time and spice up gameplay by pitching your skills against other players. Sadly, while entertaining, it is not enough to be considered a highly re-playable game and one that would be considered to have a long, gracious life amongst the dust bunnies on the shelf.
If you’re looking to smash a few crates and blast away some enemies without too much trouble, perhaps quenching some of your negativity from a bad day at work then Q-Force won’t let you down. It’s simple gameplay and level structure will provide you with gratifying, button-mashing fun, though it’s only a matter of time before it’s actions become repetitive and you begin the scour the shelves for something else to play. A great game for kids, who will enjoy the game’s atmosphere and hordes of enemies but older gamers, or players seeking some kind of challenge, will struggle to be entertained for long. In truth, the game itself feels more like additional content then a stand-alone game, and suffers for this reason.
AAG SCORE: 5/10
+ Witty dialogue and well delivered lines
+ Stays true to the series’ platform roots
+ A variety of badass weapons at your disposal
- Repetitive gameplay
- Low replay value