TGL’s Shane Willoughby realizes that a Ratchet is just as handy in your PS3 as it is in your tool box in Ratchet and Clank: A Crack in Time.
A Crack in Time is the kind of game the Playstation 3 really needs. As it is, Sony’s machine isn’t very well represented in terms of platformers. In fact the only thing that comes anywhere near a decent platformer on the machine is Little Big Planet and as we all know LPB is so good that it essentially re-writes as well as renders the whole platforming genre as we know it a little obsolete. A Crack In Time is a breath of fresh air because not only does it stand as the only decent exclusive platformer on the PS3 at the moment but it actually stands as a really excellent title worth your time and money in its own right.
Ratchet and Clank have been around for a while, nearly seven years and spawning nine games to be a little more exact and although the gameplay has received more than a few tweaks and perks throughout its legacy, the fundamental jump, bash and shoot gameplay has inherently remained the same. This is what makes R&C games so accessible and fun and it all feels very similar in this, the third addition to the Future arc after Tools of Destruction and Quest for Booty. Clank has been nabbed by the Zoni and then delivered to the sinister Dr. Nefarious who you may remember from R&C: Up Your Arsenal. Nefarious wants to use Clank to help him unlock the hidden powers and mysteries which surround the Great Clock. At the same time Ratchet literally space hops across the galaxy in search of his missing metal buddy. The game requires you to play both as Ratchet and Clank, Ratchet’s missions are more traditional in the sense that you fly from planet to planet, bash stuff up with your wrench and your array of original weaponry, all in order to find clues to where Clank is being held captive. Clank’s missions require more thought and structure, a little less smash and go, more stop, think, and solve. The jump between both characters actually works very well and keeps the game interesting and avoids the kinds of repetition that have made previous titles in the series really uninteresting after just a couple play throughs.
The game is really defined by two things, its weaponry and its characters. Ratchet’s weaponry and gadgets are, as ever, an integral dynamic of Ratchet’s appeal and his new Constructo line of weaponry will have you upgrading and purchasing a plethora of ridiculous OTT guns and ammo to use on the armies of enemies you will encounter on your missions. Constructo weapons take customization to new levels for the R&C series and it’s a really welcome niche edge to the already successful and popular weapon features of the series so far. The weapons are fun and satisfying, Rift Rippers, Negotiators and Groove-a-Trons are all in here as well as my personal favorite the Sonic Erupter which kinda looks like a Carp with bad breath that has a trigger shoved up its bum. Nice. Also new this time out are Ratchet’s Hoover Boots which are fun, fast and allow for quick progressions through the otherwise tediously vast random planet surfaces. Insomniac allow you to actually fly to these planets yourself this time in an upgradable cruiser and although it breaks up the smashing and bolt collecting it doesn’t really offer much and is guilty of tedium and bouts of intergalactic boredom. It’s pretty linear and very dull. Clank on the other hand only has one real weapon at his disposal, a special kind of time wand that can manipulate time and allow him to traverse the Great Clock while solving the many challenging time puzzles put before him. These puzzles involve recording multiple versions of yourself so that switches and triggers can be cued and manipulated in unison in order to open a door or passage way. These time puzzles can be quite taxing and require a lot of patience but once solved they prove very rewarding and gratifying.
The aspect of the game I enjoyed the most was the characters. Sure, Ratchet and Clank are cool, I guess , but it’s the supporting cast, the Dr. Nefarious’ and Captain Qwarks’ of this world which prove to be the most likable and enjoyable. Sure, the dialogue and character transactions are kinda Disney, all very nice and shiny, but there’s an earnest dry wit there that you can’t help but become a little bit charmed by. Insomniac know these characters very well and its obvious. The story is genuinely interesting, the characters are funny and engaging and I never felt for a second that Insomniac are really trying hard to impress me which their characters. They don’t exactly step out of their comfort zone but it’s all at a point where you genuinely want to see what the likes of Nefarious will say next. All too often, when a game like this strikes a chord with gameplay enthusiasts, the story and its characters fail and im happy to say that this isn’t the case with A Crack in Time. The balance is just right.
Graphically this game is just stunning. The worlds and backdrops are appropriately cartoony and wacky and the range of bright colors and big designs really make this an at times awe striking visceral fest for the eyes. The Great Clock is particularly jaw dropping. The animations are smooth and enemies move and interact in an appropriately threatening and comic fashion. They all really compliment the world they are assigned to. The cut scenes are just gorgeous and you really feel you’re playing through a Pixar animated adventure here. A Crack in Time is one of the PS3’s best looking games. The music is a little sedate but it works.
All in all, Ratchet and Clank: A Crack in Time is a great game. You really have to congratulate Insomniac. In the 3 years PS3 has been with us they have churned out 3 Ratchet adventures and 2 Resistance games and they never seem to slack on quality or attention to detail. This deserves to be included on any of those big exclusives PS3 lists which saturate the web. A Crack in Time is a game that constantly rewards and would make an ideal Christmas present for even the most hardcore of PS3 gamers.
TGL SCORE [9/10]
Release date: 4th November 2009
Developer(s): Insomniac Games