Ratchet & Clank: A Crack In Time // PS3

December 11, 2009

I received Ratchet & Clank: A Crack In Time in my free games allocation for being an employer of SCEE. Based on my perception of the series to date, I thought I’d inherited a children’s game,  despite having never played any of its numerous instalments. Bright, bulbous visuals apart, I was mistaken – although in some parts criminally easy, Ratchet & Clank also provides some rock solid platforming challenges requiring hand-eye coordination right out of the top drawer.

The best thing about this game is its sheer generosity. There is simply so much to do, and in true platforming tradition, collect. Luckily, the collections aren’t just a meaningless tally; the various items to be salvaged impact directly on the way you play. Constructo Mods power-up a variety of your weapons, often equipping them with different types of projectile, range and spread. Gold Bolts are used in order to unlock optional extras, such as making-of documentaries and the ability to purchase different skins for Ratchet. Then there are the 40 Zoni to collect – the collection of which is mandatory in order to progress in the story. The list goes on.

In this sizable mix, you can add the missions given out by various spaceships marooned in some backwater part of each space sector, each of which award you with a healthy chunk of bolts, the game’s currency. This currency is used to purchase one of the many weapons available in the game. The sheer breadth here is dizzying – weapons range from a standard shotgun, through a rocket launcher dubbed The Negotiator to the devastating Rift Inducer; a firearm that opens up a black hole from which powerful green tentacles emerge and swallow up your foes. The imagination put into each is genuinely inspired, but you’ll find yourself sticking to around three or four of your favourites in order to get the job done.

Also in each sector are small planetoids or moons to explore – mini-platforming segments straight out of Mario Galaxy, even down to their spherical nature. These invariably contain one or two of the afore-mentioned collectibles, and serve as handy little snack-sized tasks for when you don’t have the time for an extended session. Throw in a fully-fledged nod to retro arcade games in the form of My Blaster Runs Hot! and a four-tiered arena-style tournament, and you can see that Ratchet & Clank gives the player plenty to do. More often than not, you’ll be motivated to do it too – Ratchet & Clank gets the basics right. As a cross between a platformer and a shooter, it makes both enjoyable. Controls are a little convoluted, and you’ll be tempted to use the sights for awhile until it becomes perfectly clear that you don’t need them; you just need to strafe. Some Swingshot sections (yes, a grappling hook – told you there were no prizes for originality in my First Impressions) are finicky and frustrating – the occassional plummet to your death will aggravate.

All in all, it’s a very polished, very slick game, with the pace and punchlines of a blockbuster animated film. There were many moments when I found myself laughing, and as I’ve mentioned before, Captain Quark would not be out of place in the latest Pixar feature. There’s a lot to admire here – granted, you’ve seen most of it all before, but Insomniac should be commended for rolling it up in one package for you. The whole is very much a sum of its, very impressive, parts. Proof as to how much I enjoyed it can be found in the fact that I scoured eBay for earlier releases in the series, and a £8.84 purchase of Ratchet & Clank: Tools Of Destruction means I’ll be seeing much more of them in the immediate future!

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