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Ratchet & Clank: QForce Review (PS3)

I must admit upfront that I have not played any of the other games in the Ratchet and Clank series. I felt slightly ashamed about this; the intro screens proudly exclaims that 2012 is the 10th anniversary of the first Ratchet and Clank.

There are three playable characters, Ratchet, Clank and Qwark. From the intro it would seem that Qwark used to be someone important in the galaxy but was sacked or voted out or something. Qwark is bored as there is no crisis to solve at the current time. Lo and behold a bad guy shows up and announces his master plan. He has disabled the planetary defences of 3 nearby planets and they are now being besieged by evil aliens. It falls down to the three heroes to come to save the day.

QForce is a third person shooter with tower defence and platformer aspects thrown into the mix. Each mission begins with the QForce team being dropped onto a planet in need of help. The planetary defences have been taken offline and you need to restore them. The base consists of some generators and some crates which contain ammo and health. There are also set points in around the base where you can build turrets and mines to help defend against enemies. To build the turrets you need bolts; these can be found around the map in crates and from killing enemies.

Littered around the map there are weapon pods which you can use to unlock various weapons. There is the blaster, flamethrower, rocket launcher and many more. My personal favorite is “Mr. Zurkon” who can be summoned to fly around with you and shoot at nearby enemies. He has many catchphrases including “Mr. Zurkon doesn’t need bolts, his currency is pain.”.

To turn on the planet’s defences there are several key nodes that first need to be destroyed. These areas are heavily defended so it is wise to open a few weapon pods before attempting them. Once all of the key nodes have been destroyed access will be given to one last area which must be cleared to restart the base defences.

That is only half of the action; the other half is the tower defence aspect of the mission. At times enemies will be dropped off who will then proceed to make their way to the base and attempt to destroy the generators. If all of the generators are destroyed the mission is failed and you will need to begin again.

This is where the game falters. Running about and shooting at aliens is satisfying and then you hear that enemies are making their way towards your base. Now you might think “It’s ok, I have my turrets and mines to back me up”, but you would be wrong. The balance is completely off between your turret’s health \ damage and the enemies. After the first planet you begin to encounter enemies who can destroy your turrets in a few hits while an entire row of turrets can fail to take down anything leaving them free to roam about destroying your stuff. To make it worse they throw much harder enemies into the mix now and then that have no problem waltzing right passed all of your defences and can take down generators very quickly.

As each map has two “lanes” that can be attacked simultaneously this leaves you frantically dashing between them trying to keep the enemies at bay as it seems you are carrying the only weapons capable of doing any damage.

This only seems to be a problem in single player, the game does allow you to play the campaign co-op with a friend either locally or online. With two people defending the two lanes it would be much less of an annoyance.

There is an online PvP mode which looks very interesting, more so than the single player. I couldn’t find any games online when I was on but thankfully there is a tutorial to take you through the basics.

Each team, 1v1 or 2v2, has their own base, and like single player the aim is to defend your generators while trying to destroy the opposing side’s generators. There are 3 stages to a match. The first stage is the control point stage where you must race out onto the map and attempt to take control of as many nodes as possible. These nodes will generate bolts every so often that can be used in the next two stages. The second stage is the build stage, you can build turrets to defend your base, and more importantly you can buy minions to send out as waves in the last stage. The third and final stage is where all the action happens. Your minions are released and you are free to sit back and defend or head out and try to actively destroy your opponents base.

Even though the tower defence portion of the single player campaign is horribly unbalanced I enjoyed the witty banter of the characters and the interesting weaponry. The online PvP mode looks very interesting and is sure to make for some fantastic battles.

6 I took this apart put it back together and now I have these spare bolts out of 10

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