Ratchet & Clank is known for being one of the best action-platforming franchises in the industry. Although its tried and true formula of comedy, shooting and platforming is damn near perfect, Insomniac Games occasionally puts out R&C games that are based in different genres. Ratchet: Deadlocked and Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One tried their hands in the online arena and party game genres respectively. The latest game in the series: Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault takes a stab at the tower defense genre. Like the previously mentioned games, FFA is a noble effort but is missing what makes the series unique.
Some of the Ratchet & Clank games have had bits of tower defense (Up Your Arsenal most notably) but this game goes head deep into the genre. The game is broken up into two parts, campaign and competitive. You can play the campaign on your own or with a friend and you can only play the competitive mode online.
The campaign has to have one of the weakest narratives of any R&C game. Granted that this was never a story rich series to begin with but this game’s plot is so lackluster that it’s barely worth mentioning. Your ultimate goal in any map of campaign mode is to restore the shield generators of the planet that you’re on. To do this you must destroy the enemy’s bases so that you can regain control of the planetary defense system. However, you must do this while also defending your own base. There are several power generators in your base and if all of them are destroyed you lose the match. You can use collected bolts to buy weapons for yourself and to buy defenses for your base. There never seems to be enough bolts in any given level so your base will always feel extremely under-defended. When your base is attacked (as it often is) you’ll have to race back to defend it. If you don’t have enough weapons or defenses you’re pretty much SOL. Since there aren’t enough bolts, this is always the case.
I imagine that playing Full Frontal Assault with another person would have been great since one of you could stay in the base to defend/upgrade it while the other would go and deal with the enemy’s bases. Unfortunately there is no way to get a random online person into your campaign game. You can only invite someone on your friend list or who is physically there in the room with you to join in. Since none of my friends own this game I couldn’t play the campaign the way it was supposed to be played. The game is meant for two people and I was unable to actually finish the final level because it is nearly impossible to do it solo. Playing the campaign on your own feels like busywork and isn’t much fun.
I’m admittedly NOT a fan of competitive gaming so you can imagine my surprise when I found this part the most enjoyable. You can play competitive in 1 vs 1 or 2 vs 2 matches. Competitive is broken up into three phases. In the first phase, your goal is to capture as many nodes as you can. Capturing nodes means that you’ll have a revenue stream of bolts which you can then use in phase two. Phase two is all about buying minions and defenses as well as upgrading them both (as well as yourself). During the third phase, your goal will be to attack the enemy’s base. The minions that you bought in the second phase will go out and attack the enemy base during this phase. After this phase is over the cycle begins once more and repeats until one of the bases is destroyed. Competitive mode really shines in two on two matches because one guy can concentrate on base defense and upgrades while the other goes after nodes and attacks the enemy.
Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault is good at what it tries to do but it isn’t anywhere near as good as the core games of the franchise. This is the first time that I felt bored playing a Ratchet & Clank game and that’s sad since I love this series so much. I’ll give Insomniac credit for trying to branch the series out but personally, I want to see a return to the roots of the franchise.
• Return of the 3rd person view point
• Cross play support with the PS Vita version
• The crazy arsenal that the series is known for
• Funny dialogue
• Gets boring real fast
• Having to constantly return to your base to defend it becomes annoying
• Story isn’t engaging
• Another failed attempt at trying a different genre
Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault was developed by Insomniac Studios and published by Sony Computer Entertainment. It is available now for the Playstation 3 and Playstation Vita.