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Opinion

Out This Week: Ratchet And Clank: Q-Force

The best defence?

I’m all for shorter game experiences – the likes of Journey and The Unfinished Swan have shown that if you can build a ninety-minute game that’s packed with quality moments and stacks of character, people will flock to them. And, whilst the recent Ratchet and Clank titles have been shorter in length than they were last generation, this latest one – QForce (or the much better titled Full Frontal Assault if you’re in the States) – is shorter than most.

After under an hour with my first playtest I was one of the five main levels down. Be wary of extrapolating that to a five hour game because it’s one designed to be played over multiple times, and in multiplayer, but you get some idea of how much Insomniac have put into this title. And, even then, don’t be thinking this is your regular Ratchet and Clank platforming adventure – it’s not, it’s a tower defence-esque battler with a third person viewpoint.


There are cut-scenes aplenty, but the dialog is mostly terrible. One character in particular, the main enemy, had me cringing.
It’s a interesting design decision, though, albeit one impossible to test at this point beyond solo play because – well, it’s not out yet and we didn’t get any multiplayer sessions – but the potential is there.

Ratchet is tasked with helping out three planets by restoring power to certain nodes and activating a defence network, which obviously lends itself to key submissions and strategic sections – it’s modular gameplay broken into chunks, but works quite well.

Essentially you’re moving from one area of the map to another, taking out enemies in the classic Ratchet manner (with plenty of your favourite weapons from the series making an – upgradeable – appearance) but all the time being aware that certain events trigger of one of several attacks on your own base at the start of the map. Dash (or teleport) back and you can place turrets and mines to help keep the encroaching enemies at bay, along with your own melee and weapon attacks.

This to and fro approach takes a little patience, but it’s crucial to how the game works. If you don’t push forward with the tasks the game won’t move on, and if you don’t defend your base it’s game over. Attacks can be sudden and powerful, so you need to ensure you’ve collected enough bolts (found in boxes, on the map and from downed bad guys) to buy the towers and other items to place around your base. Tower points are pre-determined (think PixelJunk Monsters) but variable enough to ensure there’s a key tactical element at play, especially when you learn some enemies are more vulnerable to some weapons than others.

This works better in co-op, with one team member able to tend to the base whilst the other proceeds with the objectives out on the battlefield, and in this case QForce is something of an unexpected pleasure, seemingly out of nowhere.


The visuals are diverse enough, but hardly up there with the PS3's best. This will hopefully shine on the Vita, though, when it's released next year.
On your own you’ll need to be prepared to be constantly on the move, although you can quickly shift from one part of the map to another once your abilities start to rank up. The game rewards the player constantly, with new skills and upgrades all the time. The controls work as you’d expect from a Ratchet game, with the same close quarter swings and long range projectile weapons present and correct.

Ammo is collected from pick-up points and new guns are bought in the same way, again giving a tactical edge to how you choose to spend your bolts. It’s not a visually strong game though – the image quality is a bit rough and the frame rate is half what you’d expect, running at 30fps.

It’s not a disaster by any stretch, but it’s unlikely to wow you.

The game promises a decent enough competitive multiplayer too, meaning that when the game launches this week at a relatively decent pricepoint (with a strong emphasis on digital downloads, from what I can gather) it’s probably not bad value for money. It’s true that there’s not a massive amount of maps (there really isn’t) but perhaps that’s not really the point – played over for better scores and upgrades (and with a friend in tow) and QForce has its own agenda – and the new twist on gameplay might be up your street.

We’ll try and do a proper review once we’ve properly tested multiplayer in a few days – it would be unfair to do so at this point.

8 Comments
  1. freezebug2
    Member
    Since: Dec 2008

    Can’t go wrong with R&C and it’ll very likely be in my collection. Although only around 15 quid retail disc release , I might opt for the digital download if it’s priced accordingly. It even has a platinum trophy to hunt down, so that’s an added extra for a short PSN type release.

    Comment posted on 27/11/2012 at 09:24.
    • Bambo_19
      Member
      Since: Dec 2011

      I agree. I will probably go for the digital download. Does anyone know if the digital download will also give you the PS Vita version (even though we wont actually get it until jan)
      The plat trophy definitely sells it for me. Is there going to be 2 platinums like motorstorm RC or sound shapes?

      Comment posted on 27/11/2012 at 12:07.
      • RudeAwakening
        Member
        Since: Jan 2011

        Expect the digital version to be €60 on PSN store! :p

        Comment posted on 27/11/2012 at 13:42.
      • teflon
        Community Team
        Since: May 2009

        It’s $20 in the US, so expect that to translate across to €20 and £16.

        The digital PS3 version gives you the PS Vita bundled in too, just as the disc release does.

        Chances are it will have two platinums, like MS:RC and SS. That seems to be the norm for this kind of thing. Very odd.

        Comment posted on 27/11/2012 at 14:45.
  2. bowie
    Member
    Since: Jan 2012

    Really looking forward to a (good) R&C that can be played in co-op. All 4 One felt watered down by the perspective. As a result I started it but never finished it. Q-Force on the other hand is looking more like what I want.

    I am disappointed that the Vita version has been delayed. I think score attack can work really well on the Vita, Unit 13 demonstrated that.

    Comment posted on 27/11/2012 at 23:06.
  3. Sympozium
    Member
    Since: Aug 2009

    annoyed that the Vita version is delayed but I’m not sure if I’ll bother with it yet.

    Comment posted on 28/11/2012 at 01:12.
  4. gaffers101
    Member
    Since: Oct 2008

    I love R&C, so does my son, I hope the multiplayer is available as split-screen or cross-play.

    Comment posted on 28/11/2012 at 09:07.
  5. Forrest_01
    Member
    Since: Jun 2009

    Unfortunately, this sounds very much like a whole game built around something similar to the stage battles in Brutal Legend… Which i loathed.

    Not for me this one.

    Comment posted on 28/11/2012 at 10:50.

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