Ratchet and Clank: A Crack in Time – The PS3 Attitude Review
A few weeks ago saw the release of Ratchet and Clank: A Crack in Time for the PlayStation 3. Insomniac have been given a hard task to keep fans of the series interested, but avoid the game feeling all too familiar and samey.
A Crack in Time is the third entry on the PS3 – although the second one is not considered a full blown title – and it has a lot to live up to after the great success of the two previous games.
Much of this game is very similar to the previous titles: The gameplay is largely the same and the graphics are amazing with the cut scenes bordering on Disney Pixar quality.
The environments in A Crack in Time are vivid with colour. They may not match the quality that we adore on games such as Uncharted 2, but the unique graphical style is unmatched on the PS3. It’s not a huge leap, but there is a noticeable improvement from the other two PlayStation 3 Ratchet and Clank games – and we honestly thought they could not get much better.
You don’t have to have had played one of the many previous games to get maximum enjoyment from this title. Insomniac have used their humorous and inventive ways to keep all players up to speed with the plot by providing a short run-through of the events via a Captain Qwark film interview while the game performs a mandatory install – that’s right, when Qwark isn’t helping Ratchet in his own unique way he’s making money selling his story to the press!
A Crack in Time is very fun but surprisingly challenging at times. The developers have provided three different gameplay difficulties including the very easiest (which they call ‘casual’) that is well suited to platform-game beginners – although still suitable for more experienced people who just want an easy ride.
We have been so used to playing the series with both Ratchet and Clank together, but due to previous events – and we won’t spoil them for you if you’re uninformed – the two buddies will spend most of their time apart. This is a plus for the game because the two characters provide very different styles of gameplay.
Ratchet’s adventure is instantly recognisable straight away as he jumps about with his iconic wrench and inventory of weapons. Clank on the other hand spends most his time solving puzzles and this divide is a good way of providing players with variety, and also a break from the sometimes fast paced action that Ratchet is always bumping into.
One of the skills that are commonly used by Clank is the ability to control time or create multiple selves and this is a new take on the classic gameplay in the series. For example, many times to get to the next stage it may not be possible for only one character to achieve this goal. Clank can duplicate himself using something reminiscent of a 3D movie recorder and get each clone to do different tasks. When that is all seamlessly put together, bang, you’re through to the next part of the puzzle.
As you may be able to tell, some of these tasks ask you to use your brain a bit more than you’re perhaps used to, but after achieving what you have to do, you should have a warm feeling come over you. There is of course a useful tutorial for guidance, but you can just give up and bypass the puzzle altogether, although at a price.
A diverse range of weapons are provided for Ratchet along the way and this is a great asset to the game because it means that you can avoid doing the same actions over and over again – although you don’t have to take up on this offer. Many of these weapons are identical to their counterparts in previous games, but there are some cool new ones such as the ‘Spiral of Death’, which you may remember was the winning entry in a competition run a few months ago.
Not only can you purchase different weapons after collecting enough bolts, you can customise them too and your weapon will automatically upgrade itself if you keep on using it. Because a lot of the world is destructible, and everything you blow up turns into the bolts that are the game’s currency, there are so many opportunities to collect enough of them that you will unlikely ever get caught short-changed. You often have a sense of accomplishment when you know that all your hard work to find every last piece of metal has paid off.
If you played Tools of Destruction, you most probably remember jumping into your ship and the game then transporting you to various planets and moons in a lengthy loading screen. Thankfully, in this game you have full control over the ship and how you get to your destination, where many times you will meet enemies along the way.
You are even given the freedom to leave the main quest behind for a while and choose to go exploring on different worlds that you may come across. These can provide a nice break from the action and give you extra opportunities to earn some additional bolts.
One of our few issues with this game is that the camera is often not reactive enough for our liking to the gameplay on screen. A lot of the time if the action suddenly starts happening behind us and we turn our little friend around to counter attack, the camera is not quick enough to register this change, and relies too much on players controlling it themselves. It isn’t a huge gripe, but we do feel it is something that Insomniac could have done better.
They do say that if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. Insomniac has been very good at not fiddling with the true style and inventive gameplay that has made the series a success. But we can’t help but feel that they have gone to the very limit for what they can do to keep the series fresh without changing the core values.
Nevertheless, long term fans of the series should still love the franchise as much as ever, and this game is great for newcomers too. If you have never played a Ratchet and Clank game before there is no real reason to shy away from this one. Although it doesn’t quite set out a new benchmark for the genre, it is one of the best platform games that we have played in a long time, and certainly the best Ratchet title on the PS3 so far.
It is executed extremely well and has a good range of fine touches and added humour that are severely missed by so many games.
The combination of the very addictive gameplay and variety available to you makes this game one of those that you should not miss out on. It may not be the most hyped up game on the PS3 library this year, but it is one of the best and gamers (from casual to hardcore) will enjoy it for what it is. There are simply not enough games like this around.