My husband and I enjoy playing video games together. Unfortunately, where I am a gamer, he’s a Gamer. He likes a wider range of game, plays more often than I do, and is generally more skilled than I am. It makes it challenging to find games that we enjoy playing together. Typically he’s bored, I’m confused and overwhelmed, or we’re just not properly matched in terms of skills. So, I went into game time with Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One with a lot of hesitation. I’m not a big fan of shooting things and I wasn’t sure we’d have fun together. I was wrong. We enjoyed the game and were able to play together on relatively equal footing.
Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One teams up Ratchet, Clank, Captain Qwark, and Dr. Nefarious as they battle their way through planet Magnus using a wide array of weaponry. Players can choose their favorite characters and work together (yep, the game is a Co-Op) to escape. Plenty of wacky humor and battle scenes ensue.
Long-time fans of the franchise are probably in for a surprise. From what I understand, this particular Ratchet and Clank title is a shift for the series. But the heavy emphasis on multi-player, co-operative gameplay that may have fans raising eyebrows is that same thing that makes this a great family title. Parents and kids (the games is rated for ages 10+) can enjoy working through it together. When one character "dies," they can be rejuvenated by another character or they will re-spawn after a few seconds. If all of the characters die, they re-spawn at the most recent save point. Luckily, these are not far apart, so you can just keep powering on. This type of save/re-spawn mechanism is ideal for people playing at different skill levels, because no one is forced to drop out. They can just do their best and know that the game will go on. In addition, players can easily join in or drop out, so when Big Sister has to head off for soccer practice, everyone else can keep playing. And Dad can join the kids when he gets home from work. The game scales difficulty based on the number of players.
Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One isn’t without some drawbacks. The hint system which helps you learn new techniques has a habit of showing up just a little too late. If you’re going to warn me about exploding crates, for example, it would be useful to do that before I smash a stack of them and lose a heart. Some of the cut scenes are entirely too long, and some of the fight scenes have too much going on visually. Small complaints, for the most part.
If you’re wondering about the E10+ rating, here’s the scoop. ESRB gives Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One a E10+ rating for Crude Humor, Fantasy Violence, and Language. It’s a fair rating, but the violence is cartoonish and will fall under a comfortable range for some parents of kids 8+. There is no blood or gore and the characters are of the animal/alien variety. Language is mostly potty humor-related, so may be comfortable for parents as well. As with anything, use your personal judgment. Do be aware, though, that there is the option for online play. If this is accessible to your kids, it opens up an entirely different can of worms in terms of language and general safety. The controls require moderate skill level – there are some circumstances where you’re dodging, jumping, and shooting all at once.