PAX Prime 2012: Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault Preview
Developer: Insomniac Games / Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment / Release Date: Q4 2012 / Platforms: PS3, PS Vita / ESRB: TBD
Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault is plenty similar to the classic PlayStation games you likely remember fondly, but it’s also very much a departure, a spin-off from the conventional route. You’ll still wield large and crazy weapons as you always have in R&C games gone by, and you’ll still fight off enemies and collect those precious bolts. But, the context of these actions is off the beaten path for the dynamic duo, as the focus of Full Frontal Assault is not on peril-filled adventure, it’s instead about protection… the protection of oh-so-precious generators.
Full Frontal Assault is, at its core, a Ratchet & Clank shooting and looting experience with layers of tower defense and MOBA strategies thrown in to twist up the formula. You play as one of three heroes: Ratchet, Clank, or Qwark, all mainstays of the franchise, on the planet of Ebaro. While no further plot details have been given, we do know that the objective is to fend off hordes of Grungarian enemies whose sole goal is to reach your generators and destroy them… and rub it in your face.
Thankfully, you have an arsenal of sweet, deadly new toys at your disposal to keep baddies from going where you don’t want them to, which is where the new tower defense mechanics come into play.
The generators you wish to protect are centered in the heart of your base, which can be fully upgraded with shields, turrets, lasers, and flamethrowers, just to name a few. These alongside your hand-carried weapons of choice are there to assist you in keeping those generators up and running until the enemy waves have ceased.
At the series’ core, Ratchet & Clank has always been about searching for and collecting bolts, and Full Frontal Assault is no exception. As they have with past games, gathered bolts can be spent as currency on a myriad of weapons and upgrades to further expand your arsenal. While you’ll need to shell out the manpower to capture weapon nodes in the environment, you’ll still need to have bolts in your pocket to make sure you can afford a weapon fresh off the rack. Thankfully, bolts aren’t necessarily in short supply – they can easily be found in the crumbled remains of enemy units, or in boxes within your base or scattered about the environment.
While this is the gist of the single-player mode, we were actually demoed the newly announced local/online multiplayer mode, which has two teams going head-to-head for the control of weapon nodes and, ultimately, the destruction of the other team’s generators. For a full explanation of this design, give this post from earlier a short read.
If you’re already familiar with the newly introduced multiplayer or just finished up reading the link I provided above, then you know that the mode consists of three phases: Recon, Squad, and Assault. The recon phase has you jetting around the map collecting resources and fighting for control of nearby weapon nodes that add firepower to your arsenal. There are (typically) an odd number of nodes located in the environment, a design that intentionally allows for “node-supremacy” over the opposing team. The Squad phase is time for both teams to set up turrets, shields and traps at their base and prepare for the upcoming third phase: Assault. During the third and final phase, both teams send out waves of enemies like tanks, engineers and grunts to try and take down the enemy’s generators. As the player, you’re most certainly allowed (and encouraged) to participate in the fight for generator domination.
If one team takes down the other successfully, the game ends and the victor is rewarded. However, if both teams can hold each other’s armies off, the phases will restart back at Recon, each team allowed to keep their already earned establishments. The phases will repeat until one team arises victorious – which just so happened between two combative office-mates from developer Insomniac, and it was a raging old time.
Neat, final additions to the game include the return of the hover boots from Crack in Time, quirky, frequent quips from Qwark, and gorgeous, vibrantly colored environments to do battle in.
Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault will be available this Holiday on both PlayStation 3 and PS Vita. It will support not only cross-buy (which means you get both games for the price of one), but also cross-platform support for multiplayer and cloud saving for continuing at home or on-the-go.
Full Frontal Assault may not be the next major iteration in the dynamic duo’s quest for adventure, but it’s sure one heck of a fun time. And if it’s any consolation, the game won’t even cost you full-price, instead landing somewhere “more in the range of Quest For Booty than Tools of Destruction.”