"They have names, you know. You've just destroyed Carl."
Yes, the humour is still there. Playing as Ratchet I've just blown up a small robot minion and the surly comment comes from the PA system of the facility where I've learnt to use some of the basic weapons in Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One. And in addition to the Pixar-esque humour, appropriate for all ages, everything else that we expect from a Ratchet & Clank title is there. Colourful and stunning environments, crazy weapons and shiny bolts. But there is one major difference.
All 4 One is purely a co-operative game, where you and up to three friends - offline or online - co-operate as Ratchet, Clank, Captain Qwark and Doctor Nefarious. It may come across as strange that Nefarious is fighting next to the others, but it fits perfectly into the story. The story revolves around the four of them getting stuck in a strange machine called the Creature Collector. A temporary truce is called as they try and make their way out of the predicament.
The result is just as successful as it was when the Mario series went co-operative with New Super Mario Bros. Wii. And in many ways even more so. Everyone plays on one "unsplit" screen and the game is a great mix of action, platforming and co-operative tasks. Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One kicks off with a multi stage boss battle, and within the first 15 minutes we have spent time on rails, been given a ride by a flying cab, manned cannon towers and played with the "tether rope".
This lasso is a very entertaining addition for several reasons. One press on triangle and you are thrown towards your closest friend with the help of the rope. Not only is it amusing to see, but practical if you need to catch up or if you're falling to your death. Insomniac have also created numerous puzzles and challenges that require the use of the tether rope.
We're also equipped with the vacuum tool Vac-U, that sucks in various things with the press of the circle button. It can be used to suck in boxes, fellow players or to capture and place electric critters in fuse boxes. One more press of the button and you shoot whatever you've sucked up, and it always cracks me up when Ratchet reminds Nefarious of the truth as he finds himself sucked into his nozzle. And yes, you can shoot each other down ravines...
This kind of playful edge, but also sense of team spirit is present at all times. Awards such as "noob" or "best bolt collector" are awarded at the conclusion of each stage, and more unofficial elements of prestige appear on their own accord as you play - as always it is a bit embarrassing to have to be revived, and it's always a bit of prestige associated to performing the final attack on a hard to kill boss.
There would be no Ratchet & Clank without crazy, imaginative weapons and there are plenty of those in All 4 One. Apart from the close quarter attack you start with the standard pistol Combuster, and a short while later you will bring chaos with the more powerful Plasmabomb Launcher. The whips have always been my favourite tools in the series, and here my desire for whipping is met by the Arc Lasher. I won't spoil your fun by revealing more of the arsenal, but I will say that there will be plenty of things to enjoy whether you like your enemies served hot or cold.
Weapons are upgraded in stores that appear at regular intervals in the stages. You can improve categories such as ammunition, power and turn your weapons "Elite". The four characters retain their purchases for future rounds, so you can replay earlier levels with more powerful guns.
From a presentation standpoint, the Ratchet & Clank series, has always received top marks, and All 4 One is no exception. You and your friends wreak havoc in futuristic cities, Grand Canyon inspired plateaus, and mysterious alien forests - all crispy looking and incredibly detailed. The fixed camera angles always provide you with a good overview, even when four wild characters run in every direction.
If there are any flaws it has to be the fact that it's not as fun on your own. The A.I Clank that you play with sometimes jumps off a cliff for no apparent reason, and it's obvious that this is designed to be a co-op game. I also don't like the fact that if you quit a world, you have to play it all over again if you go back - there is no option to choose a specific checkpoint (unless you've completed the whole world).
At any rate, Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One is a true quality entry into the competitive world of co-operative games. You're going to have a great time with a few friends next to you, and Insomniac manage to keep the experience fresh for the duration. One for all, all must play, and all of that.