Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault (or Q-Force as it’s known in the EU) is developed by Tin Giant for the Playstation Vita. Full Frontal Assault is a new take on the classic Ratchet and Clank experience; in this game you control the usual gang but with a new strategic twist. It has a similar feel to games like League of Legends and DOTA, the main difference being that it’s not point and click. It’s a third person action/platformer, and the game starts off with you choosing your character. In the campaign you can only choose from Ratchet, Clank, or Captain Qwark, and your character doesn’t effect story or gameplay although your main starting weapon does change (purely cosmetic).
After choosing your character you start by watching a few story cut scenes that I will not ruin but they feel like classic R&C games. After learning what’s going on in the story, you and your team go off to a planet to take control of it from your enemies. To take control of an enemy location you must activate the planetary defense center or PDC; to do this you must fight waves of enemies and push forward to defeat the heavily guarded location. To get to the PDC you must first activate the planetary key nodes, which are heavily guarded as well, just not as much as the PDC. Protip; always make sure your keeping your base protected with turrets, walls, mines, and yourself. After activating this you will fight your last wave, but this wave will be bigger and stronger then any of the previous waves. By killing enemies, destroying certain boxes, and hitting the bonuses while unlocking new weapons you gain Bolts; the currency of this game. You use them to purchase defenses for your base, which is split between two lanes – a left lane and a right lane. The enemies will come from either side and try to attack your base and if they destroy your generators you will lose.
You have many slots to put mines and turrets but only two spots for a wall to slow enemies down. With many options to choose from as you progress thru the story you can really use different strategies to beat your enemies. For example placing a “Chrono-Mine” you can slow time around the mine and placing a “Pryo Turret” can cook enemies alive!
Ratchet and Clank games are known for their crazy weapons and well, they’re still here. You start off every level with just the classic wrench (Ratchet) which you can smack or throw at enemies. The others are upgradable and the more you use them, the stronger and more efficient they become. To unlock new weapons you have to activate a weapons terminal by hitting ‘R’ in the blue sections (not the red). If you hit ‘R’ in the correct portion of the blue area you will get bonus Bolts. After doing this you are given a choice between certain weapons and sometimes only one will appear. To spite this, I found myself sticking to one weapon after I upgraded it quite quickly.
One of the best things about this game is how easy it is to control. The game feels good and I never felt like I was fighting with myself or the game. Sadly though, the frame-rate doesn’t hold up so well. I found the game to vary quite a lot from a nice 25 Frames Per Second (FPS) down to a low 10-15 FPS. With this in mind, it’s no wonder the game was delayed so long; the developers clearly didn’t know how to optimize the game for the Playstation Vita. If this game stayed at 25-30 FPS I would be playing this game a lot more, but after completing the game I haven’t really wanted to come back to it. The graphics seem to suffer as well as fluidity, but the weird thing is I’ve noticed it looking really good in parts. I’m not really someone who cares about graphics, but knowing what the Vita can do I was disappointed by what I’ve seen.
The multiplayer is what can give this game life, but the first thing I realized was that they took out the 2 v 2 mode the PS3 version has – the only online modes available are 1 v 1 and campaign co-op. I was really looking forward to playing this game with a friend and facing two other players. 1 v 1 mode is the same thing as the campaign with a few twists, but you have another player to deal with. By collecting Bolts you can purchase defensive and offensive items (which are enemies at your command)
You purchase waves of them and they will march off to attack the enemy base. There are a few different enemies to choose from and each vary in strength and cost. The match has a series of rounds, of which the first round is called, ‘Recon.’ In this round you go out and collect Bolts by taking over enemy nodes which will slowly generate Bolts for you over time – you need a lot of these if you want to stand a chance. After that round it goes to “Squad”, in which you can purchase units to go attack the enemy base. Finally, after that round is over it becomes the assault round. In this round your squad will go out and actually attack the enemy base and this is where you better hope your own defenses are built up enough to withstand any enemy attack longer than they can. The rounds then repeat until one person destroys all of the other person’s generators; it can be fun, but if your not very good or just learning it’s a very one sided match.
With co-op you can play the campaign together via WiFi. I have not tried this on the Vita version but the PS3 version works just fine. When you get weapons from the weapon terminal both players unlock whatever the acting player chose. The only flaw is that it seems to run a little worse in the frame-rate department on the Ps3 version, so with the Vita version having speed issues in the first place I don’t want to even think what it would be like on the Vita. I could see this being a lot of fun on the go but sadly don’t have someone to test this out with at the moment.
If this was the Ratchet & Clank game you’ve been waiting for, you might want to wait just a bit longer for a price drop. The game can be fun, don’t get me wrong; but with a delayed release and a developer that you can’t even find information on, it’s no wonder the game turned out to be like this. With the lack of content compared to the PS3 version you might as well spend that money on the better of the two.
The good thing is you do get the Vita version for free if you buy the PS3 version. If Insomniac Games decide to take another swing at a game on the Vita they better think twice about giving it to some unknown developer, this game showed a lot of promise but sadly fell short.