First Impressions: Ratchet & Clank: A Crack In Time
December 6, 2009
Ratchet & Clank: A Crack In Time makes no apology for wearing its influences on its sleeve. Whilst essentially an evolution of classic collect-’em-up platformers in the Banjo & Kazooie mould, it also casually apes the planetoid structure from Super Mario Galaxy, the space combat mechanics of Lylat Wars, and even the radio stations of the Grand Theft Auto series. But whilst it doesn’t really score points for originality (expect to smash a lot of crates) Insomniac should be commended for creating a title that is a lot of fun to play, whilst also being genuinely funny.
Cinematics have a level of polish that elevate them to within the realms of an animated feature film, and some characters, such as fill-in sidekick Captain Quark, feel like they could be extras in The Incredibles. In-game aesthetics are just as crisp, with bright colours and weird and wonderful environments fleshing out the gameworld. Platform challenges are so far, so predictable; you’ve jumped these jumps a thousand times before. The hover boots add an excellent dynamic to proceedings, however, cranking the tempo up a notch and increasing the need for accurate leaps and turns. Other additions aren’t quite as successful – the act of recording yourself performing an action and then playing back that recording whilst adding another action in real-time on top (it’s as confusing as it sounds) is clunky and frustrating. I have a sinking feeling that this will form a central mechanic through the rest of the game, judging by the subtitle.
It’s a solid start, but hardly spectacular. Ratchet & Clank follows a path so well-trodden that it’s impossible to differentiate from others of similar ilk. Whilst that’s not necessarily a bad thing – platforming conventions such as these are conventions because they work – the game will need to introduce its own ideas in order for it to truly set itself apart. If it doesn’t, then at least it has its sense of humour to keep its audience along for the ride.