Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction Review

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Publisher: Sony
Developer: Insomniac Games

Platform: PlayStation 3
Reviewed on PlayStation 3

Past villains have tried to eliminate Ratchet and Clank, putting an end to the heroics of this lombax-and-robot, galaxy saving team. Every time, Ratchet and Clank were simply in the way. Now, a cragmite named Tachyon has proclaimed himself emperor and galactic tyrant, and his only goal (besides galactic domination) is to extinguish the life of Ratchet, the last known lombax.

Why does Tachyon have it in for our furry, mechanically-inclined friend Ratchet? The cragmites are a dim and ill-tempered race who one ran amok throughout the Polaris galaxy, conquering planet after planet until the lombaxes destroyed them with a superweapon. Unfortunately for the Polaris galaxy, the lombax people missed a cragmite, and now Emperor Tachyon is determined to eliminate every last lombax to protect his legacy and his life. Can Ratchet escape Tachyon's wrath and still save a kidnapped Captain Quark?

Kyle Ackerman

Ratchet and Clank have become long-time friends, and with Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction it's great to welcome them to the latest generation of consoles as they debut on the PlayStation 3.

Quark is All Chin and No Spine

Ratchet & Clank Future returns Ratchet & Clank to the kind of game that captured my heart when Ratchet and his robot buddy Clank first debuted on the PlayStation 2. All the Ratchet & Clank games have featured clever humor, characters that appeal to gamers of all ages and some of the most absurd weapons ever to grace an action game. Since first meeting the bumbling superhero Captain Quark, I've been attached to the Ratchet & Clank series and eagerly await each new game.

As in any franchise, things have changed a little over the years. Personally, I loved the formula in early games like Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando, that focused on silly story and single-player platforming action. Later games, like Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal and Ratchet & Clank: Deadlocked, shifted the focus of the Ratchet & Clank series more toward multiplayer, arena-style battles. While entertaining, they pulled the Ratchet & Clank games away from the single-player, story-centric adventures I found so entertaining.

Finally, with Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters, a different developer may have tackled Ratchet and Clank's adventures on the PSP, but the franchise mostly returned to the single-player adventure that's always been so entertaining. With Ratchet & Clank Future, the torch returns to Insomniac Games, and they've delivered a Ratchet & Clank game with flying colors. Captain Quark is up to his usual self-preservation antics and the main baddie, Emperor Tachyon, is a master of Haiku.

PlayStation 2.5

While the game is brilliant fun, it's only barely a next-generation title. Don't get me wrong – with the right equipment, you can now enjoy Ratchet & Clank in 720p HD and surround sound. The art is gorgeous, and thanks to the power of the PlayStation 3 you get to see the colorful and cartoonish universe that Ratchet and Clank live in with even more clarity and detail than ever. I was able to simultaneously lash more enemies than ever with my plasma whip and see much further than on the PlayStation 2 or PSP. But it's fundamentally the same Ratchet & Clank I've been playing. And that's just fine.

Ratchet & Clank Future does make token nods to new next-generation capabilities in a few places, but they seem like a lean effort – an attempt to follow instructions passed down from on high to take advantage of the PlayStation 3. To that end, Ratchet & Clank Future uses the motion-sensitive features of the SixAxis controller for a few mini-games. Early on, Ratchet will earn Robo-Wings that let you tilt the SixAxis controller to guide the daring duo as they fly through levels. The control scheme is similar when Ratchet skydives from great heights. The Decryptor is used to unlock security locks, and mostly involves tilting the controller to roll a ball around a maze. Lastly, a Geo-Laser can be used to break through weak walls, and is also controlled by tilting the SixAxis controller. Save the flying games, all seem tacked-on, as if Insomniac was simply under orders to make gamers tilt the controller.

Disco is a Precursor to Death

Wild and wacky weapons have been a Hallmark of the Ratchet & Clank games. Most of the weapons are returning favorites, tools of destruction that can been improved and augmented through use and play. The weapons aren't quite as crazy, but Insomniac has made up for that by moving some of the silly tools into a new category: devices.

Devices let players activate robotic allies, steal health from enemies or even transform enemies into penguins for squashing. Several of the devices are similar to weapons from past games, but don't advance like weapons. Certainly the most fun is the Groovitron, a disco-ball-like device that spreads music and lights everywhere, distracting enemies with dance.

Also in the category of "like, but unlike" are the levels in which Ratchet ventures forth alone. This time, instead of small, robotic assistants that Ratchet must command, puzzle-like, to navigate areas, Ratchet encounters the mystical Zoni. The Zoni are time-travelling creatures sent to aid Ratchet that, sadly, only he can see. With the help of the Zoni, Ratchet's bag of tricks has changed slightly, but the levels are fundamentally the same.

Moonshine and Country Music Trivia

Simply put, Ratchet & Clank Future is a hell of a lot of fun. It's not difficult, but easily offers a weekend of entertainment. Really, there's no reason for it to be stressfully difficult. Rather, Ratchet & Clank Future makes it easy to complete the basic goals, and then offers myriad things to collect, plenty of weapons to improve and hilarious sights to see that extend the basic game. If you want difficulty, play it through again on Challenge Mode, when the weapons get even more interesting. It's easy to recommend to gamers of every age, entertaining to watch and worth more than a few solid chuckles.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on January 8, 2008 9:45 AM.

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