Ratchet and Clank: QForce review: reloaded shooter is wide of the Qwark

Herein lies a lesson: never change a winning formula. You wouldn’t slather bangers and mash in soy sauce. You’d never release Ronaldo on transfer deadline day then replace him with David Goodwillie. And you sure as sucrose wouldn’t rejig Christmas as Mandatory Dental Work Day. So quite why Insomniac has mangled its beloved platform series into a joyless, plate-spinning tower defence game is beyond me. I want my Lomba-ck.

Ratchet and Clank: QForce PS3 review

Back in 2009 the former Resistance developer cracked the code of how to make the perfect Ratchet game. But now the winning charm, expansive exploration and excellent story of A Crack In Time has been ditched in a bizarre attempt to weld a strategy game on to the existing action-heavy platform/shooter template.

Where our odd couple’s last proper adventure was loveable like a labradoodle in a Santa jumper, QForce is about as endearing as being pounced on by a pitbull. Weaving base-building busywork into the fabric of a jumpy run-and-gunner shouldn’t work, doesn’t work and leaves me wanting to blub on the shoulder of a tiny, chipper robot.

Forget massive, rail-grinding boss battles, scaling physics-defying loop-the-loops in your trusty gravity boots or sprawling arena brawls: most of the traditional Ratchet trappings have gone the way of Sixaxis controls in favour of setting up turrets and mines to fend off enemy waves.While steering the series away from All 4 One’s misguided co-op ways is a smart move, and QForce’s core shooting is sturdy and smooth, the strategic elements simply don’t mesh with the series’ existing ideology.

Said QForce refers to the interplanetary defence system the hairy space-rat, Clank and Captain Qwark have set up. Defending planets from an evildoer who speaks almost exclusively in interweb slang (hello, 2005!), any chortles are quickly worn away by the exhausting action. Tasked with defending key bases, you’re constantly switching between building sentry guns and attacking enemy strongholds, then repairing the previously mentioned arsenal when it gets smashed to smithereens.

This undeniably keeps the action frantic, but it’s at the expense of any sort of finesse. Your defences are rarely as effective as simply rocking up to a posse of aliens and filling them full of hot blaster-sauce. Worse, turrets can barely take the tiniest scratch before breaking down, turning our trio of galaxy-savers into glorified emergency electricians. Often it simply feels like too much work for a single player, as you’re constantly bombarded with conflicting tasks.

Sensibly, Insomniac at least lets you tackle the campaign with a pal, which does smash the spinning crockery work somewhat. Yet there’s no getting around the fact that QForce further erodes the series’ identity. Come back, real Ratchet. I don’t want to spend another Christmas Day getting my molars drilled.

Our Score

Score: 5