If Insomniac Games had taught us anything, it's never say never.
Last year, the company revealed that it was done working exclusively for the PlayStation 3 console, opting to work on a new project with EA for both the PS3 and Xbox 360 titled Overstrike (now renamed Fuse). With that, many folks thought that it would be the death knell for the Resistance and Ratchet and Clank franchises. Now, while the Resistance franchise has been out to pasture (for now, at least), Ratchet and Clank aren't quite so done for. Earlier this year, Sony announced that Insomniac was, in fact, coming back for a new game, Full Frontal Assault, to be released on both PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita as a downloadable title later this year.
Many fans rejoiced at the news, and got even more excited when Ted Price and company revealed that the game would be a throwback to the "classic" style of Ratchet and Clank, rather than foraying off in the direction that All 4 One took last year with an emphasis on multiplayer. That said, the team was also including something a bit new this time around, a focus on tower defense skills. That's not to say the game wouldn't be loaded with action, as the team promised that it would retain many of the series' signature touches. For good measure, this past weekend at PAX Prime, the team gave us an online beta code to give the game a test drive.
Rather than taking the usual adventure approach, Ratchet and Clank: Full Frontal Assault tasks you with defending a Q-Force base by protecting six generators scattered across the course of a map, which are threatened at being destroyed by a group of aliens known as the Grungoids. Ratchet packs plenty of firepower, as he's done in the past, with a huge array of weapons, but he'll need some defensive back-up in order to win this battle. So, with the help of his Hoverboots, he'll jet around the map, activating a number of barriers that can slow the enemies down a bit, and also turning on a few turrets that will blast anything that moves. It all sounds a bit tower defense-ish, but Insomniac has tweaked the controls so that it feels anything but tiring.
Each round is broken up into sections, allowing you time to build up currency, take key defensive points on each map, and then fight back against the opposition that's incoming. In a certain sense, it's kind of similar to the set-up of the Orcs Must Die! series, where you make preparations for an incoming horde of enemies and then take great joy in watching them fall under your tactics. Its set-up is quite beautiful, and the execution of each mode is really something, giving you tasks to complete in each one and then rewarding you promptly with a series of power-ups and bolts to bolster your defenses for the next round.
The game will have single player missions, complete with segmented characters from the series that drop by to lend a hand (or, in the case of Captain Qwark, create hilarious circumstances), but the real thick of the action comes through online sessions Logging in to PlayStation Network, you can find match-ups with friends rather easily, challenging them to take on your defenses or even teaming up with them to see who can provide the best team effort. If you don't think you're ready for online competition just yet, you can also try out the beta, which lets you try each of the game's three stages to "get the hang of them".
Though the mission structure has changed, Full Frontal Assault definitely brings enough of the traditional action of the series to the forefront. It's so thrilling to take on enemies with either your melee weapon or using first-person style controls to shoot them with accuracy, and then set up perimeters with the simple press of a few buttons.
Even if the game doesn't look as good as previous Ratchet and Clank retail adventures (it is downloadable compared to being on a disc), Full Frontal Assault still packs a beautiful punch, with plenty of horrendous enemies to blast to bits, as well as quality animations and a slew of wide-open maps to battle across. The final game will also feature a full array of voicework, as Insomniac Games hasn't lost their touch in that department.
We're just happy Insomniac's back, because they're really the fuel to Ratchet and Clank's fire, and they've gassed Full Frontal Assault with the kind of energy that the series first grew up on. And the fact you can play it CrossPlay with both the Vita or the PS3 is a golden touch, without having to pay extra for it. Be on the lookout for it when it drops into battle this fall!