Ratchet and Clank Future: A Crack in Time REVIEW

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The Ratchet and Clank series has been around the Playstation brand for about 8 years now, and through that time we’ve seen the 3D platforming genre dwindle from abundance to a few remaining mainstays that each solidified a strong brand recognition and fan base by consistently releasing quality titles.  Insomniac games has done a good job of maintaining the interest in Ratchet and Clank over the years with it’s unique gameplay, creative weaponry, and quality story telling.  In 2007, the franchise rebooted with the “Future” trilogy for PS3 starting with the somewhat overlooked Tools of Destruction, and now the trilogy rounds itself out with it’s final chapter in this revealing story arc with A Crack in Time.  We see what’s new, what stays the same and if Insomniac was able to pull off yet another Ratchet and Clank classic for the Playstation platform.


The Pros

Everything that has made the Ratchet and Clank franchise successful game after game is well maintained here with “A Crack in Time”.  You’ve got Ratchet roaming the different environments with his animated arsenal up against larges waves of enemies.  This provides for a number action packed sequences and epic battles you’ve come to love and remember over the years with R&C games. This only gets more intense and interesting with the now standard ability for Ratchet to upgrade and purchase new weapons (including some favorites and new additions).

planet side missions Ratchet and Clank

What’s new for Ratchet is firstly the inclusion of hover boots that heightens the level of speed and subsequent need for accuracy in specific platforming sections for Ratchet where the hover boots are needed.  Secondly is the inclusion of space travel as you are now able to navigate through space in real time with your trusty ship between planets, being able to pick up side missions on the way, engage in the occasional space battle, and land on various moons to pass through their respective platforming sequences in order to pick up resources sometimes necessary to progress.  Each of these side planets provide a different perspective when you play through them opposed to the planets where main objectives are completed.  With no load times between space travel and subsequent landing, rather than being fully immersed in a detailed and unique environment, you essentially walk on the spherical surface of the different colored planets where the platforming challenge is layed out while still being able to view the happenings in the outer space around Ratchet and the planet itself.

Clank

As the story goes in this third PS3 title, Ratchet and Clank have been initially separated and while Ratchet sets off to reunite with his friend, Clank is on a path of self discovery introducing the player to refreshing new gameplay for the franchise.  The Clank gameplay brings challenging time manipulation elements presenting puzzles that involve creating multiple versions of Clank that must be programmed to work together (along with the live version of Clank) to get through specified sections of the level.  This element is reminiscent of games like Portal and Braid and is well represented in “A Crack in Time” providing thought provoking challenges that give you a significant sense of accomplishment once solved.

The mixture of all these elements new and old, contribute to an overall well paced game.  With the significant number of different styles of play, the game does a good job of implementing each regularly to keep the gameplay fresh and interesting.  This also culminates in an exceptional production value for a game that could rival any Pixar movie seeing a theatrical release.  Every level is vibrant and active with a high level of detail representing their unique personality differentiated by their respective setting. The story itself feels serial enough to serve loyal fans but not too complicated to turn off newcomers (with the help of a video recap at the beginning of the game) but rather inspire them to go back and play “Tools of Destruction” and “Quest for Booty”.


The Cons

One thing I wished had a bit more depth to it was the space travel sequences for Ratchet.  The spaceship controls feel restrictive without a full 360 degrees of motion, while the space battles and side missions that are available to you feel a bit too simple leading you to not even bother unless you really have to or you are a completest of some sorts.  Secondly, it’s becoming a recurring factor that Captain Qwark seems to always wear out his welcome in Ratchet and Clank games to a point where the humour he represents just gets old.


Here’s The Deal

Ratchet environments

The problem in sticking with a winning formula with little or no change is that every installment done with this in mind provides a significant chance that the game will be good, but never great as time passes by.  With the addition of a number of varying gameplay elements including the new time-based Clank gameplay, Ratchet and Clank Future: A Crack in Time breaks through the monotony and creates the best R&C so far (at least for the PS3).  Yet, A Crack in Time still maintains the high graphical benchmarks set in previous PS3 installments and continues to provide an enjoyable story, ending the Future trilogy with an emphatic and satisfying exclamation.  8.7/10  Sean C.

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~ by consolecreatures on November 1, 2009.

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