E3 2011: Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One

QUICKTAKE: By adding four-player co-op support to the Ratchet and Clank franchise, All 4 One has a chance of being the best game in the series so far. Beautiful and inventive, this is a family-friendly romp worth playing. BOOM video 9321 THE DEMO: The E3 demo goes through the first level of the adventure, introducing players to platforming and melee combat. There's some simple grapple hook platforming, and a fun on-rails sequence that has you (trying to) work together to avoid oncoming traffic. I played with one other person, although the game supports up to four players, online and off. DETAILS: Ratchet and Clank has always been a rather curious franchise. In spite of its cute and cuddly main characters, the series has never been truly accessible to the casual gamer. With its plethora of dual-analog weapons-based combat, the franchise has been more of a siren call to the hardcore. All 4 One feels like Insomniac's best effort at making a "children's game," with none of the negative connotations that go with it. The cooperative element is what makes All 4 One much more accessible than its predecessors. So long as there's one adept player in the mix, everyone can be guided through the experience. The fixed camera also makes it a much easier game to simply jump into. There are still platforms to jump onto and rails to grind. But this time, you don't need to worry about switching to a behind-the-back perspective, or fiddling with every button on the controller.

Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One

Although the gameplay experience has been streamlined, none of the aspects that make Ratchet and Clank so success are missing. The gameplay will be immediately familiar to franchise veterans, while newcomers will find the introductory "tutorial" quite helpful. Like the three other games on the PS3 so far, this is a beautiful game. With its colorful palette and beautifully animated characters, it's easy to say that this is Insomniac's graphics powerhouse (sorry, Resistance fans!). Beyond the stunning visuals, there's the writing. Having Captain Qwark and Doctor Nefarious join the titular characters has afforded Insomniac the opportunity to create some truly hilarious banter. Simply put, this may be the funniest game to ever come out of the studio. There were a few moments of co-op brilliance. For example, at one moment in the game, we were on a flying car, heading towards oncoming traffic. Steering is based on the balance of the car ... and it requires quick coordination between you and your partners to not crash head-on. Suffice it to say, we didn't make it unscathed. It was hilarious to have a real-life communication flub translate to something so disastrous. So long as Insomniac continues to pepper All 4 One with moments like this, it really can become the best game in the franchise. Watch the Shacknews E3 2011 page to follow all our coverage of this year's show. You can also subscribe to it with your favorite RSS reader.