Review: Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time (PS3)October 29th, 2009 | Written by Chris Selogy | Topic: PlayStation 3, Reviews
With major platforming releases being rare these days, it’s nice to see companies like Insomniac Games and Nintendo continue with their own series to give fans of the genre something to look forward to from time to time. Insomniac’s Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time completes the Future story arc that they started two years ago along with adding some new things to help change up the usual pace that Ratchet & Clank games tend to have.
A Crack in Time starts by revealing where Clank was taken by the Zoni at the end of Tools of Destruction, which was to The Great Clock, a mysterious structure near the middle of the universe that controls time in the universe. The mastermind behind the whole scheme is Dr. Nefarious, the villain you may remember from Up Your Arsenal, who wishes to find out the secret to The Great Clock’s greatest abilities that are supposed to be hidden within Clank’s mind. In another part of the galaxy, Ratchet has been working with Captain Qwark to find any leads they can uncover to where Clank is at that leads them to another Lombax that can help Ratchet in his quest with the hopes of helping return the Lombax race to their former glory.
Because Ratchet and Clank are in different spots, Insomniac took the chance to switch between the two as they try to get in contact with each other to use their different gameplay styles to keep it fresh. Adding to that is the new space exploration gameplay that allows you to explore large sectors of space as sort of a modified hub system where you can check out some moons for smaller levels that give you a few different types of rewards that help upgrade your ship’s abilities, mods for your Constructo weapons, and gold bolts to help unlock new skins for Ratchet. There are even a few radio stations that feature different styles of music, including a Pirate Radio station starring Captain Slag and Rusty Pete from Tools of Destruction and Quest for Booty. It does a good job of changing up the pace that you generally expect from a Ratchet & Clank game and gets away from the linear space sequences we saw in Tools of Destruction.
Clank’s gameplay in A Crack in Time does take more of a headlining role here than his sections have ever done before. Clank gets control of a time scepter that is used in some interesting ways that goes beyond the usual antics or roles he’s been a part of in this series. His puzzles are a bit like Braid in that you have to use multiple versions of Clank to stand on switches and do other things until you open the door out of the room where you are showered with bolts as a reward. Add in some more platforming and little bits of Ratchet-like combat and a weirdly decent minigame about fixing time leaks in planets Ratchet has visited and this is probably the best gameplay that Clank has ever had in the series.
Besides the previously mentioned space exploration, Ratchet largely plays the same as he has since the series started. There are a few new things that help add some variety to what he can do now, mostly in the form of the hoverboots that injects some speed into the game for new types of platforming sequences. The nice thing about the weapons here is that there are only a few gadgets, so the return of Mr. Zurkon and the Groovitron glove more interesting since they will level up and get better beyond their original forms. New weapons include the new Constructo Pistol, Bomb Glove, and Shotgun that can be customized with mods that you find throughout the game to give them different abilities along with a new sniper rifle that shows weak spots when you zoom in, the Sonic Erupter that is basically a creature with a powerful burp with a kick to it, and the Chimp-o-Matic that transforms enemies into monkeys. The weapons here tend to be on the mostly useful side, though the Dynamo of Doom’s reliance on Sixaxis control and the Tesla Spikes’ awkward and questionable use makes these two weapons the least attractive weapons in the heat of battle.
A Crack in Time definitely is a nice step-up over the Pixar-like style that Tools of Destruction had, as there is a bit more style to the visuals here. Fire and explosion have a more stylish look to them rather than trying to emulate the look of a real fire that tends to look awful for most games. The shadows are used really well for Agoreans to give them a sharp cel-shaded look that really stands out since that isn’t really used in any other characters or enemies to that kind of effect, though you will see some odd, overly fuzzy shadows on Qwark and some other main characters. The planets here don’t really have the great backdrops and set pieces that Tools of Destruction, like the Metropolis Tools opened up with, though the best parts in A Crack in Time that do stand out are The Great Clock and space, especially when you’re on a moon, that look amazing.
The voice acting in A Crack in Time is definitely a great part of the game, as there are plenty of humorous lines in cutscenes and in-game that are well-done. Music is pretty good here and the radio stations you can listen to in Aphelion have the nice touch of DJ’s that have some funny conversations and reports on things Ratchet does in the game that is a nice touch that goes beyond the usual orchestral music that the series has always had.
Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time does a great job of capping off this Future trilogy arc with the best mix of gameplay that the series has ever had. There is definitely a feeling of this being more of the same, but enough has been added to the formula to keep that from being a big deal as a negative. Anybody with an interest in the Ratchet & Clank series would do themselves a service by picking this up, though those that haven’t been convinced by playing any of the previous games will probably not be converted to fan status by what A Crack in Time has to offer.