Not super long ago, I played the newest “Ratchet and Clank” game, “Ratchet and Clank: Full Frontal Assault”. I bought it, thinking it was a regular “Ratchet and Clank” game. Stupidly, AFTER paying for it, I looked at the back and read something that seemed odd. Was this a different kind of game? I looked on the Internet when I got home and found out, to my deep and utter disappointment that echoed through every fiber of my being, including my spleen (okay, I exaggerated a little bit, but I was still disappointed), that it was indeed different from what I was hoping for. It was a “tower defense” game, which I had a vague understanding of. Nevertheless, I thought I’d give it a try.
This game lets you choose between three playable characters, Ratchet, Clank, and Qwark (kind of like “All 4 One”, but without Nefarious, so it’s like “All 3 One”, that doesn’t work, though). I mainly played as Ratchet, to make the game somewhat feel more like a regular “R&C” game. Anyway, the gameplay involves you visiting several planets, and in each one, you have some tasks to complete, and all the while, you must defend your base from enemies. Each area is a decent size to explore, and you must either destroy things or activate things. Every few minutes or so, you must return to your base and defend it from some enemies. After completing all the tasks, you then must defend your base against tons of enemies and keep at least one generator from being destroyed. You can buy various barriers, mines, and turrets to defend your base.
In addition to the things I just mentioned, you also have your own weapons to use against enemies, too, of course. These are all weapons from previous games, unfortunately. No new weapons in this game. (One weapon, a little robot that fights with you named Mr. Zurkon, does get some good new dialogue in this game, though. “Mr. Zurkon does not discriminate. He hates all life forms equally.”) And what I find very odd is how you get weapons. Bolts are only spent on defending your base now. Your guns are free, but to get them, you must find these devices scattered all throughout the area. Each device lets you choose one weapon out of one or several choices. Every time you start a new area, you have to get your weapons back (luckily, they stay leveled up). I just thought it was a bit odd. You know, if I was them, I would perhaps, I don’t know, keep my guns. But, that’s just me.
But, I’m nitpicking. This game actually did turn out to be quite fun, and it was my first time really playing a tower defense game. I’ve played little versions that were just a part of a larger game, but not like this. It was always very satisfying to stop enemies from getting to my generators, then, restore any defenses that got destroyed. Since I didn’t need to save money for guns anymore, I could spend more freely on making my base secure. Always did the strongest barriers first, then Warmonger turrets, then whatever else I could afford. Sometimes, I could defeat enemies before they even got anywhere near my base. Booyah! It was all rather addicting.
While I learned that tower defense games can be fun, I also found out how stressful they can be (like Tetris type games, now those can get stressful, too). The anxiety of not only defending my own life, but all my precious generators could become quite overwhelming at times. At first, I’d just take out enemies at one entrance, then the other, but when I wasn’t fully prepared, the enemies would eventually just swarm in from both sides, and I didn’t know where to turn. I’d shoot at those on the right as generators on the left got destroyed, then I’d turn to the left and more generators to my right would be demolished. At the last part of the game where you defend your base (the very last level is more traditional), I lost many times. Finally, I learned to just get as much money as possible, then put turrets everywhere. I finally was able to keep up and win that time. What a relief that was when I finally prevailed. In your face, Grungarian forces!
While I found this new style of gameplay to be quite fun, I still ended up being a bit disappointed by this game. Okay, maybe very disappointed. And while I wish the game had the same gameplay as regular “Ratchet and Clank” games, that’s not what bothers me quite as much. What contributed most to making this game disappointing were two things. For one thing, it is very short. There are three planets. Three. (And you go to one planet three times. They should’ve given us a couple more to check out instead of making us revisit one several times.) You can finish this game in just a few hours. And secondly, it doesn’t have a very good story, either. There’s barely anything to say about it. There’s just this guy from an earlier game that I completely don’t remember causing trouble because of something related to Qwark. I may as well not say anymore or I may spoil the tiny bit of story there is. (It’s funny to mention, though, that the main villain is voiced by Richard Horvitz, the same voice actor that did ZiM in a TV show I love, “Invader ZiM”. I thought he sounded familiar.)
So this game ended up being fun and disappointing at the same time. I really wish Insomniac would make regular “Ratchet and Clank” games again. The last two were too different. And what an underwhelming way to celebrate the series’ 10-year anniversary. But, on a more positive note, I did enjoy the game the short time it lasted. I very much liked trying something new, and while I prefer the traditional “Ratchet and Clank” gameplay, I know now how fun tower defense games can be. Stressful, but very addicting.