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Ratchet and Clank All 4 One • Page 2

Quad pro quo.

Even with just these three gadgets, the combinations were instantly satisfying and agreeably destructive. But that's not all the technology on offer.

Every character also comes equipped with a Vac-U-4000, handy for slurping up the ammo and nuts-and-bolts currency that predictably spills from smashed scenery items.

The Vac-U-4000 has a more amusing use, though. You can use it to pick up other players and then shoot them into the air. This is vital for getting past certain sections, allowing you to fire friends across otherwise impassable gaps or launching them over the heads of unsuspecting foes for a powered-up slam attack. Getting players in the right position to be vacuumed up took some fiddling, so here's hoping that gets tightened up before release.

Or maybe not. You can also use this Dyson effect to irritate other players, by shooting them off ledges so that you can snaffle the spoils of a big fight. Insomniac has deliberately designed the game so that falls are non-fatal and come with no penalty, but there is a strong competitive streak running through the game to balance out the co-op stuff.

At the end of each stage, everyone is ranked according to their performance. The player who collected the most bolts is lauded, as are any players who excelled in combat. Those who died most or simply didn't pull their weight are gently mocked.

It's just enough to ensure that play strikes a finely tuned and constantly shifting balance between wilful partnership and kudos-driven aggravation that mirrors the heroes-and-villains team up angle of the story.

2

Weaponry remains outlandish in design and over the top in execution. Good.

The final trick up your sleeve is a leash that can connect you to the nearest player. This proves extremely useful if you're getting left behind, allowing you to bungee across the screen to catch up with your mates, or if you mistime a jump and need to pull yourself back to the rest of the pack rather than waste seconds respawning.

But, again, it works in more ways than that. Four-man swing points are common, requiring all the players to form a pendulous conga line and then synchronise their momentum to reach the other side of a large gap. Used in conjunction with the Vac-U-4000 it also means that as long as you can slurp and shoot one player to a distant platform, everyone can join them just by using them as a mobile grapple point.

At every turn in the demo, there's a sense of a developer really exploring the ways players can work together while still maintaining a competitive streak. Every weapon and gadget has multiple uses, and even in this short section of the game it was clear that the levels have been designed to encourage you to try as many of them as you can.

What remains to be seen is how existing Ratchet and Clank fans will take to this new style of play. It's fast and manic, a far cry from the platforming precision of old, and it's sometimes easy to lose track of things in the chaos.

That said, it is enormous fun, in that effortless way that Insomniac has brought to the best of the Ratchet and Clank series, and – if nothing else – promises to be a co-operative game that actually requires co-operation.

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