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Ratchet & Clank: Q-Force | Hands-on Preview

Brendan Griffiths
Cross-Play, Gamescom 2012, Hands-On Preview, Insomniac Games, Ratchet & Clank: Q-Force

Ratchet & Clank: Q-Force | Hands-on Preview

Platforms: PS3 (version tested) | Vita

Developers: Insomniac Games

Publisher: Sony

You might be wondering where Insomniac Games have been since announcing their multi-platform title, Overstrike. Well, since then this is their second Ratchet & Clank title, it would seem they’re not quite ready to move out of mama Sony’s house quite yet.

In recent years we’ve had the awesome Crack in Time and last year saw the enjoyable inclusion of multiplayer to the series with All 4 One. Today’s demo was single player but there will be online and splitscreen co-op options for two players. This could work very well as the action was a little dumbed down for All 4 One to allow four players to share a single screen. It was fun, but not quite the full co-op experience long-time fans craved.

Much has been made of the new game’s tower defence mechanics that are a first for the series. Don’t worry; the game hasn’t turned into a top-down facebook game. It’s still the lush-looking planet hopping adventure that the series always delivers. Regular platforming and shooting sections nestle in between the new tower defence challenges.

Ratchet & Clank: Q-Force | Hands-on Preview

The area I was defending as Ratchet (Clank and Quark will also be playable in the final game) was near to his ship’s landing pad. A large number of empty pods can have turrets built on them via a weapon select-esque pop-up menu. As long as you have the cash (or bolts in R&C world) you can upgrade these pods into various turrets, mines and barriers. These three units will become more varied the further you progress in the game with even this early stage offering flamethrowers in addition to standard blaster turrets.

Enemies attacked my arena in waves from multiple sides, but I was able to add defences to the tunnels on the approaches giving me breathing room. It’s worth taking note of what enemy types are on their way too; as Brawlers will make a bee-line for you, while crafty engineers will try and dismantle your defences and turrets. The larger wall barriers that you can set up across a tunnel have a hole in the centre that you can fire through which is handy seeing as your bullets bounce back when hitting the rest of it.

Ratchet & Clank: Q-Force | Hands-on Preview

Rather than stand back and let the automated defences have all the fun, I dived in with weapons picked up from pods that only required a QTE instead of a purchase. You need to get stuck in really to pick up the bolts from defeated enemies so you can add more defences. This stage featured so many blank pods to upgrade that there wasn’t really any strategy to it at all. The only challenge came when a large boss mech came stomping in. A few crates of Warmonger rocket fire later and the mission was complete. Weapons will upgrade with use as per normal, but personal upgrades and perks will be earned via medals rewarded for completing stages.

Presumably, this is a very early stage in the game or the difficulty was toned down for the sake of demo purposes. Not that I really want a hardcore tower defence game when I’m playing Ratchet & Clank, so fingers crossed there will be plenty of traditional gameplay to be had. One worrying bit of information I’ve been hearing though is that there are only five levels set over three planets. I really hope that this wasn’t a full level or this could be a very short game. And no, it’s not a PSN game like Quest for Booty. What does add some great value to the game though is the fact that you’ll be getting the Vita version for free as a download when you purchase the PS3 version. This is a part of Sony’s killer new strategy with upcoming first-party cross-play titles that they revealed at their press event at Gamescom on Tuesday.

Ratchet & Clank: Q-Force | Hands-on Preview

You’d be forgiven for forgetting that Sony were briefly obsessed with trying to put everything into 3D, so it was surprising to see that this game will be getting the goggle treatment. Ever keen to justify my reasoning on not buying a 3D TV recently I gave it ago and was once again met with mixed results. The most obviously 3D elements are parts of the heads-up display like the map and the targeting reticule. The reticule was particularly annoying though as it was often blurry and wandered into double-vision making lining up long-distance rocket shots an uncomfortable strain on the eyes.

There were a few signs of added depth which was good to see. It’s just a shame I had to run into a face-high fern bush to get some real perspective on said depth. Looking down a leaf as I forced the camera past ratchet’s shoulder in a corner did provide a slight sensation that the leaf was trying to leave the screen as it seemed to gain inwards depth. But if I’ve got to go and hide in a bush to appreciate the 3D it doesn’t seem worth the effort, especially as the whole experience starts to strain the eyes after ten minutes. The depth can be turned down to taste -until it stops hurting-, justifying the point of not having it in the first place and us all being able to afford bigger, sexier 2D screens. Isn’t that all we ever want?

Look out for Ratchet & Clank: Q-Force in stores November 20th.

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