Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault (PlayStation 3) review:

Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault (PlayStation 3)

The squad phase gives way to the assault phase, during which any squads you purchased assault the enemy base, and your base comes under attack from enemy forces. As before, you have a choice to make, and it can make a huge difference. Do you stick around and protect your generators, or put your considerable muscle into the assault on the enemy base? If your opponent's base is poorly guarded, your presence there can be the deciding factor in the battle. But if your defenses are inadequate to meet the enemy onslaught, your absence at home may be the final nail in your own coffin.

Solid shooting action supports the tactical decision-making. You start out with a straightforward combuster, but as you take nodes, you acquire an assortment of alternate weapons, as well as support items like the death-dealing robot sidekick Mr. Zurkon and the attack decoy known as Dopplebanger. Ammo is somewhat scarce on the battlefield, so the more weapons you're packing, the longer you can hold out in a fight. Smart use of your support items can help you take nodes and fend off enemy attacks, and in true Ratchet & Clank tradition, weapons feel powerful and are fun to use. Unfortunately the AI of enemies you must sometimes use your weapons on isn't very sharp. You commonly find foes getting caught on the environment as they approach your base.

Ranked competitive matches rate your performance and then place you into one of several leagues. The system does a fine job of finding opponents at around your skill level, while also giving you the goal of getting better and climbing up the ranks. You can also host or join custom matches and play with friends.

He who controls the nodes controls the bolts. He who controls the bolts can buy more stuff.

In addition to the competitive multiplayer, there's a brief, rudimentary campaign that can be played either solo or in split-screen or online co-op. Most missions have you defending a base while venturing out onto the battlefield to take out enemy strongholds, and it all culminates in a decent boss battle. There are a few laughs to be had--seeing Captain Qwark flex heroically and pointlessly as he flies through the air is always amusing. But if you come to Full Frontal Assault hoping for a substantial single-player experience like those offered by so many Ratchet & Clank games, you'll be disappointed.

This $20 game does one thing well: it has a competitive multiplayer mode that blends tactics and action in a way that allows for some exciting and unpredictable battles. You also get the Vita version with your purchase, though that won't be available until January. It's unfortunate that there aren't more multiplayer modes; as good as the one here is, you eventually wish for a change of pace from the cycle of recon, squad, and assault. But having your forces lay waste to your opponent's base as you keep his forces at bay with the dance-inducing power of a Groovitron is still a satisfying way to win a fight.

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