Ratchet and Clank represent a sort of Pixar quality type of game to me. They’re always great fun, regardless of your age, and have some great production values and narrative that make for a title in an ESRB rating that doesn’t often yield such great promise. The series has produced a few particularly sour products, but none of which have been at the capable hands of Insomniac games. Ratchet and Clank Future: A Crack in Time, is the conclusion of the PS3 trilogy, and hopefully it’s not the last in the series all together.
What surprised me the most about A Crack in Time is that it’s graphics are quite possibly some of the best I’ve seen on the PS3. It hadn’t occurred to me until a great deal into the game that these were the pre-rendered cutscenes that were of such high quality because the transition is nearly seamless and the overall quality of the real-time rendered graphics were so close to the pre-rendered. The game looks great, surprisingly so for a game that might not have been designed to show off the graphical power of the PS3.
One of my biggest problems with past Ratchet and Clank games was the inclusion of the Clank only levels, which often felt lackluster and repetitive. With the game’s story splitting the two characters up for a majority of the game Insomniac had to make Clank feel extra unique in his gameplay. Much like with past Clank levels it’s more puzzle based then Ratchet’s run and gun levels are, but Insomniac has created a series of new puzzle levels that are so incredibly enjoyable and unique that they almost outshine the rest of the game.
The Crack in Time refers to the game’s story focus around a clock at the center of the universe, in which Clank learns his true purpose, to maintain the clock. What makes this unique is that, while you progress through the clock, you have to manipulate time to get through a number of time related puzzles. These time related puzzles focus on recording your actions several times with several forms of yourself. Early in the game these are simple, with you and one time clone jumping on buttons to open doors, later in the game this develops into a group of you and three other time clones that you previously recorded jumping on buttons, then moving to another to raise and lower doors and platforms and all manner of obstacles. When you are first introduced to these puzzles they seem a bit daunting, they certainly left me with a sense of dread on how difficult they might get late in the game. I quickly found myself not wanting these levels to end.
Fortunately the Clank puzzles aren’t just bookended between boring shooting stages as Insomniac has kept the shooter platforming elements that the series is known for in perfect care. It’s much of the same as you expect from the series, but the game’s addition of the hoverboots, and the usual suspect of powerful, but often funny, weapons weapons keeps the game as fresh today as it was when the series started. I’ve always quite enjoyed the leveling aspects the game’s weapons have, just spending hours leveling them up to see what the final product might hold, and with weapons like the Chimpinator or the Rift Inducer 4000, which summons a lonely be-tentacled beast named Fred to do your work for you.
One of the newest introductions to the game is the Constructo weapons, a trinity of weapons that you can customize with mods you collect through the game. It artificially augments the amount of weapons you have in the game by changing the configuration of the mods. It allows for some limited control over the properties of the gun, but is unfortunately only used the three times amongst the dozen or so weapons. It would have been nice to see it used more in the game.
One of the other biggest additions to the game is the expanded exploration. Other than just searching the few planets essential to the game’s storyline, the game also includes a number of small moons which you can explore for some collectibles and such. The levels are often very fun, but the process of getting to them is sometimes a tad tedious due to the repetitive ship-to-ship battles from moon to moon. In all they aren’t incredibly bad, but the space battles could have used some work to break the repetition.
The game’s story is great, and a bit different considering the placement of Clank within the story itself. The game’s great wit is still intact and all of the you’re familiar with characters are still as charming as they have been in the past. The newest cast addition are ones that seem to be, regrettably, aimed at creating closure for the characters in the story. While creating that closure would be great if this is the end of the series, I for one am rather heartbroken if it is. The game’s ending leaves you feeling fulfilled, but still wanting more from the fuzzy/robotic anthropomorphic duo.
Ratchet and Clank Future: A Crack in Time is another great addition to a great series. The game’s graphics are great, perhaps some of the best I’ve seen on the console. The hallmark quality the series is known for there. The gameplay, from the level design, to the usually great shooting level, and the new supremely well-designed clank levels are better than ever. The game’s writing, namely the story, great wit, and well drawn out character development setup a narrative that ends this trilogy in just the right way. It’d be horrible to see the series end, but that’s no reason to avoid this game, you will not be disappointed.