Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction

Ratchet and Clank started life on the Playstation 2, and were the only duo to challenge the mighty Jak and Daxter. There was room for both platform adventure series to flourish on Playstation 2 but, even so, Ratchet finished arguably stronger with Ratchet and Clank 3, a perfect platform-adventure experience that, despite not taking the GTA-like approach of Jak II: Renegade, presented a hugely enjoyable story with a tremendous feeling of freedom. The Playstation 3 iteration makes the wise move of sticking to the things that made the original Ratchet games so good, and updates the game for the next generation.

Ratchet and Clank Future

The best example of what Ratchet and Clank continues to do right is the platforming, which is good news for a game in this genre. Bounding around and leaping from ledge to ledge in Ratchet and Clank is a joy once again, unlike some of the platforming segments is so many other games. Inevitably there will be a few jumps that catch you out (otherwise it'd get boring), but there are none that have you tearing your hair out with frustration at what one extra stretch of a leg might have saved in terms of repeated effort. If you've got decent reactions and experience with this sort of game, you can expect to scoot through the story with reasonable ease, but be reassured that there's replay value in that you can go back seeking further upgrades and bonus multipliers that add to the challenge. With near-perfect controls (noticeably, this was a feature Resistance: Fall of Man was strong for, so Insomniac have clearly got strength in this field), the platforming experience is extremely enjoyable, allowing you to focus on the other main component of the game: gunplay.

As with previous Ratchet and Clank games, you'll be building up a daunting arsenal of weaponry in a very short space of time, with guns ranging from electric whips through to swirling tornadoes and multiple launch rocket systems. The more damage you do to enemies with each weapon, the more experience you gain for that gun, which will allow you to gradually upgrade the weapons (choosing to enhance things like strength or ammunition). As your armoury increases, you'll be able to focus on collecting bolts from fallen enemies (the usual currency in Ratchet games), as well as rare materials that can be used to purchase further weapon upgrades. Before long, you'll be rampaging across massive levels, with Tardis-style pockets (or pouches, if that's what Ratchet has) holding a huge array of weaponry, but don't expect the enemy to sit back and let you become dominant. As your ammunition improves, the enemies tend to appear in greater number, with better attacks or, more scarily (and impressively) as huge, towering monsters that rain terror from above. Clearly the Titans and Goliaths of Resistance gave Insomniac some good inspiration to make large and exciting enemies in Ratchet and Clank, which is great news for the series, since it really adds variety to the enemies you encounter and the tactics necessary to beat them.

Ratchet and Clank Future

Upgrades to Ratchet's weaponry and equipment aren't the only possibilities though. You'll also be able to gain new abilities for Clank, including wings that will allow you to swoop gracefully through the air around some of the largest levels. It's actually another of the good uses of the motion sensitivity in the controllers, something that Insomniac have done well. Where games like Lair fail for enforcing extensive use of the motion sensitive controls, Insomniac have kept most functionality in the usual buttons and sticks, but added subtle features (like shaking tags in Resistance) and now flight control in Ratchet. It actually works very well, with nicely dampened motion allowing you to guide Ratchet and Clank through even narrow gaps. Speaking of Clank though, the miniature robot returns for this adventure and contributes to the story in the usual way, with some platforming sections dedicated to him entirely. Thankfully, since functionality and motion is severely reduced when controlling Clank, there are less sections involving him in this game, but those that have been put in are impressively enhanced by some important friends of Clank's that will play a significant role in the plot.

Fully armed and with sidekick Clank by Ratchet's side (or on his back), it's time to rid the galaxy of another evil villain (this one's not been around for a while, so isn't familiar with the fact that Ratchet will be around to liberate the free world once again and stop any naughty baddies from causing too much mayhem). Along the way though, Ratchet and Clank encounter some friendly allies, including a possible love interest for the furry hero, and a few familiar faces from previous games. More amusingly, there are also a hilarious band of space pirates that feature prominantly in the game, with some of the most funny audio announcements in gaming history being broadcast across levels, including one that I won't give away, but you'll recognize if I mention that it bears similarities to a famous Sesame Street line. It all fits together perfectly, making the whole story a truly enjoyable and immersive experience. Every character has something fun or interesting to say, and there's always something going on that will raise an eyebrow or smile.

Ratchet and Clank Future

Graphically, there's almost nothing to fault with Ratchet and Clank. Whilst it's true that the characters, by their nature, are more simplistic than the sort of character models you might see in something like Call of Duty 4, the world of Ratchet and Clank is so vibrant and alive that it somehow does more to create a believeable and enjoyable environment. Everything from Ratchet's fur (he clearly knows the right products to use) through to the skies above cities (filled with streams of moving vehicles and other evidence of life and everyday business) demonstrates what lengths Insomniac have gone to to make this game look as brilliant as it does. To make things even better, the sound to go with it is just as good. In particular, the score for the game is superb, featuring a great mix of themes that can happily loop without ever feeling repetitive, and also orchestral, stirring segments that successfully augment cutscenes and really get you involved in the plot. It's actually one of my favourite scores for any game so far this year, and I'm (embarrassed to say that I'm) actually quite affected by music in both games and films, so this must be doing something right. It's not one that reduced me to tears (I'd say I'm far too manly, but there's no chance), but it got me happily immersed into an excellent plot.

Perhaps the one criticism that can be levelled at the game is the reduced amount of freedom and lastability of the game when compared with the previous game on Playstation 2. In Ratchet and Clank 3, there were huge numbers of tournament events to compete in (including the Epic 100-round Qwark challenge) and other side quests like the sewer gem collection (involving literally hours of exploration through near-identical pipework, building a mental map of the area). It's certainly not fresh and original stuff at every turn but, sometimes, if the plot is good enough, it doesn't matter if there are sidequests that are a little less exciting - they're just an excuse for fans of the game to spend more time in their favourite universe, learning just a little bit more about their characters along the way. In Ratchet and Clank Future, the tournament rounds are simple and few in number, and there aren't really any major sidequests to speak of (though there are still golden bolts and weapon pieces to collect for a few bonuses). Ideally, I would like to have seen a lot more additions like that, and maybe this will happen in the next Ratchet game for PS3 (assuming Insomniac go to town on one when Resistance 2 is out of the way). Still, this small deficiency is enough to deny Ratchet a perfect 10, but doesn't stop it from being my game of the year. The whole game is still extremely enjoyable, even if it's not quite as long as it could have been.

Ratchet and Clank Future

Overally, Ratchet and Clank Future does almost everything it should to take the duo into the world of high-definition gaming. The levels are big, colourful and filled with exciting things to do. There's some scope for improvement, but this game is one of the best available on any console at the moment. This game should, at the very least, make you smile on more than one occasion, and provide an excellent entertaining diversion for 15 hours or more. With this game and Uncharted due later in the year, it's an excellent time to be a Playstation 3 gamer.

Game details

Game logo

Publisher:

Sony

Developer:

Insomniac Games

Players:

1

Online:

None

Release:

2007-11-09

Trophies:

0

Review summary

Gameplay:

Pure enjoyment; a fantastic adventure

Graphics:

Gorgeous in every way

Sound:

Atmospheric music and brilliant effects

Lastability:

Not as big as Ratchet 3, but not tiny

9.7

Meteoric

Post a comment

Comment:

characters remaining.

User comments

MeteorStorm Random Quote Picker

QuoterQuoter

Shepard

So... how are you getting drunk, anyway?

Tali'Zorah

Verrry carefully. Turian brandy, tripled filtered, and introduced into the suit through an emerrrgency induction port.

Shepard

That's a straw, Tali.

Tali'Zorah

Emerrrgency. Induction. Port.