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Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One: Frenemies with Benefits

There are obvious pairings, like peanut butter and jelly, and there are not-so-obvious pairings, like chocolate and bacon. Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One is a story of both - pairing the obvious team of Ratchet and Clank with the not-so-obvious duo of Captain Qwark and Dr. Nefarious in an intergalactic, four-player co-op adventure.

Trouble begins when Ratchet and Clank, now retired from saving the galaxy, are invited to an awards ceremony alongside Captain Qwark. Ratchet and Clank suspect something is up with the ceremony and would just as soon not go, yet Qwark - never one to shy from the spotlight - convinces the duo to accept. Quicker than you can say, "It's a trap," Dr. Nefarious springs his poorly conceived plot, unleashing a giant monster on the two heroes (and Qwark). The monster is enough to attract the attention of the Creature Collector, a machine collecting specimens for an intergalactic zoo.

If the four want to escape, they'll need to work together...

All 4 One is a best of both worlds, combining the gadget-based platforming familiar to the series with puzzle-based gameplay similar to Legend of Zelda: Four Swords. You play as one of the four heroes, each with their own special ability. For example, Clank can slow down time for a short period of time, while Qwark can activate a shield. Characters also have access to the game's more "traditional" arsenal, such as a gun that turns enemies into small dinosaurs.

True to the series, both abilities and weapons are important parts of the game, though to get through levels, you'll need to lean on your friends. Up to four people can join in, allowing for plenty of co-op mayhem. Two major additions to gameplay are a tether and vacuum gun. With the tether, you can toss out a safety line to your partner or zipline across levels. The vacuum cannon works in a similar manner, though it instead allows you to launch a partner towards an area of the map.

Much of the gameplay is based around using both tools to solve puzzles and navigate tricky platforming sections. Levels work best when everyone is working towards the same goal. For example, everyone can use the same weapon to greater effect than using it alone. Players can also revive fallen teammates. There are also sections of each level that require players to use both the tether and vacuum cannon to get through safely. It's a fun bit of co-operative play that isn't featured in many games.

However, the title may read All 4 One, though the "One for All" part doesn't necessarily hold any meaning. Players can help each other through levels, but they're also being graded on individual performances. Each player has an individual bolt count, creating a couple of interesting social mechanics. You can run towards crates, grabbing everything you can before other players, or make sure everyone gets their fair share of the loot. You can also suck teammates up with the vacuum cannon and launch them off the side of a level.

Games never get so competitive as to destroy friendships and ruin a fun time, though competition can seep into even the more harmonious of groupings. All it takes is for one player to grab an extra bolt or "accidently" launch a player in the wrong direction to get sparks flying. In order to keep some order, players are rewarded for helping each other during the game.

Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One is a different take on the franchise, and looks like one of the series' most unique and accessible entries. It's fun to play with friends, but even more fun to launch them off a cliff.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker
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