Ratchet & Clank: QForce Review

Ratchet & Clank team up for strategic action.

QForce Got Right

+ Same core gameplay we know and love

+ Enjoyable multiplayer offering

QForce Got Wrong

– Becomes stale quickly

– Uninspired campaign

– Only one multiplayer mode

Ratchet & Clank: QForce sees the series return to the third-person camera we know and love – but in terms of gameplay, Insomniac have taken the game and added elements most of us thought we’d never see in a R&C; title. If you’re looking for some classic R&C; action to wet your appetite over the holiday period, QForce is probably going to disappoint you. In saying that, the game never tries to be anything it isn’t – it’s a new and unique opportunity for fans to celebrate the tenth anniversary of a classic franchise.

The story behind QForce effectively exists to set the scene the for game – if you were expecting a memorable story a la past R&C; games, you’ve come to the wrong place. While Captain Qwark is on offer to provide some of the series’ trademark humor, the premise behind the game is basic. Essentially, the bad guys (Grungarian Marauders) are attempting to wreak havoc on the Solana Galaxy by wiping out all systems of defense (Planetary Defense Centers) and it’s your job to stop them.

The way you go about stopping them, however, is where you’ll first notice the game’s new direction. That direction, though, can only be described as a blend of tower defense, real-time strategy and platforming elements (good luck trying to put this game into a genre). You’ll start off at your home base, which consists of six generators, the aim being to reclaim the Defense Center before your foes can wipe out your generators. In your bid to salvage the Defense Centers, there are plenty of opportunities to collect bolts to fortify your base (I’ll get to that soon) and various weapons – fans of the series will welcome the sight of familiar weapons such as The Combuster and the ever-as-funny Groovitron. Staying true to its roots, weapons can level up to create more potent tools of destruction (no pun intended) and are as fun as ever to use.

While Insomniac have provided a plethora of classic R&C; weapons for players to utilize, there’s also plenty to collect and discover within levels, as well as various fortifications to add to your base. You can spend your time collecting bolts and traversing the map for more powerful weapons, take the defensive option and set up barriers and chrono-mines to slow down enemies or take the slightly more aggressive (and expensive) approach with turrets. While you’re essentially doing the same thing on each level, the diverse terrains, enemies, and weaponry available will keep you entertained (for the first playthrough at least).

On the multiplayer side of things, the game actually provides a solid and enjoyable offering. Where the campaign tends to fluctuate between offense and defense, the online matchmaking provides a strategic element to the game and allows for some intense bouts. You can choose to play either 1v1 or 2v2 (unfortunately there’s only one game mode to choose from) and matches are split into three different phases – Recon, Squad, and Assault.

The first phase, Recon, will see you battling it out to capture “nodes” placed around the map. These command points, of sorts, are especially important for two reasons – firstly, each capture will provide you with a new weapon to terrorize your opponent with, and secondly, each node under your control earns you bolts to spend in the next phase. The more nodes you own, the more bolts you earn.

The next Squad phase will see players either reap the benefits of capturing nodes or wallow in regret of not being able to capture enough – for here you can purchase soldiers to go on the offense in the next phase, as well as improve your own base’s defenses with turrets, mines and barriers. While you can run around busting open crates for extra bolts, owning the initial battle for nodes is vital if you want to take advantage of the various upgrades on offer in the Squad phase.

The final Assault phase is where your plan finally comes to fruition. Whether you go on the offense with your purchased soldiers or retreat and protect your base – it’s up to you. Battles will often go down to the wire and if you’re like me, it’ll take a few matches to realise that stacking your offense and gunning straight for the enemy base isn’t such a great idea.

If you’re a fan of the Ratchet & Clank series there’s no doubt you’ll enjoy Insomniac’s foray into a more strategic genre – in saying that, the game does suffer from replayability issues and probably won’t keep you entertained for hours on end. But at the same time, you can pick it up for $24 brand new from JB HiFi. If you’re looking for a cheap bit of co-operative fun over the holidays, you’ll enjoy Ratchet & Clank: QForce. For those with high expectations for the series or a penchant for replayability – it’s probably best you avoid this one.

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