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Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time Review


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On 11/29/2009 at 10:40 PM by Chessa DiMola

There's depth, challenge, variety, humor, puzzles, and plenty of sidequests. What else does a gamer need?
RECOMMENDATION:

Recommended for everyone.

As someone who acquired a PS2 during the middle of its lifespan, I was able to experience a wide variety of its offerings. Of the 120-something titles I own for the system, the Ratchet & Clank series has always stuck out in my mind as one of the best series on the system. It combined elements of strategy, satisfying combat, great platforming, and thoughtful puzzle solving into a world full of unique characters chock full of humor. Since the very first title, the two main characters have been on a whirlwind adventure; first together, then alone, only to finally wind up split apart, taking players through two very different and unique storylines.

Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time resolves the story that has been building since the series beginnings. In this game, Ratchet finally comes in contact with another Lombax, General Azimuth. Through their adventures together, Azimuth details his own back story, which gives Ratchet a look into the terribly sad tale of their race. Meanwhile, Clank is rescued by the Zoni, who had previously been working with the treacherous Dr. Nefarious in order to access Clank's memory banks regarding information about "The Great Clock". Dedicated fans that have been following the heroes' tales from the beginning will greatly enjoy the storyline as it gives insight to their purpose and significance to the future of their world.

This addition to the series bears great similarity to its predecessors, a trend that the series has clung to since the first sequel. The formula doesn't stray far away from the original, keeping the platforming, puzzles, and combat intact and true to its roots. What A Crack in Time does do differently, is expand upon the original elements, creating another addition to the series which is absolutely stunning and satisfying.

Similar to the end of Tools of Destruction, and the entirety of Quest for Booty, the two protagonists are once again separated, segmenting gameplay in two. As Clank, players will discover the purpose behind his creation as he is taken by the Zoni to The Great Clock, a place created by a scientist named Orvus (voiced by Charles Martinet). The clock was designed to heal the universe after it has been ripped apart due to excessive time travel for years and years.

Clank's sections are mostly based on platforming, although a modest amount of combat will still be required. During these sections, players will acquire unique weapons and abilities, along with new fantastic puzzles to tackle.

By far the greatest gameplay element when playing as Clank, are the sections where he must record several holographs of himself and strategically position them on certain buttons so that he may escape a locked room. Players will do this via pads placed at the beginning of each room. The pads allow players to record a holographic version of Clank performing a sequence of moves in a 60 second time period. After recording all of the sequences, the holographic versions of Clank must coordinate perfectly in order to open the locked door at the end of a room. A round of applause is entitled to the mastermind behind these puzzles. They were not only thought-provoking but one of the best puzzle sequences I have ever encountered within a game.

While these unique puzzles are hard to top, there are plenty of other elements for players to enjoy while controlling Clank. He acquires a mystical staff, which allows him to repair items for bolts. An interesting change of pace from the usual destruction required of players to earn funds. When faced with a rapidly moving platform, Clank now has the ability to throw orbs, which will slow down time within their blast radius. In addition to these wonderful little touches, another commonly encountered puzzle will put players in charge of repairing tears in the fabric of space for particular planets using a special laser.

Of course, controlling Clank is only a part of the game; players will also spend a significant amount of time as Ratchet. To be completely honest, there are dozens of wonderful additions to talk about when controlling Ratchet, so I'll have to limit myself to only describing a few in detail. Similar to previous games, Ratchet is still carrying around his trusty wrench, a weapon I find myself unable to stop using, no matter what ridiculous weapon I acquire. Like most other games, Ratchet has a whole new arsenal of weapons to play with this time around. Players with a save file from Tools of Destruction will find that acquiring new weapons comes with a fair bit of ease, since their save file from the previous Ratchet & Clank game will earn them a significant discount at any of the weapon kiosks.

While there are numerous new weapons to talk about, there is only one that sticks out very clearly; my personal favorite, Mr. Zurkon. This little floating trigger-happy robot is by no means the greatest weapon in the game – however, he is the most hilarious. Many times I kept him out for shear enjoyment as I waited to hear him speak one of several laughter-inducing lines such as, "Mr. Zurkon is here to kill you," and "Mr. Zurkon does not need Nanotech to survive, Mr. Zurkon lives on fear."

In addition to some great new weapons, Ratchet is now equipped with new gear, which adds new gameplay elements to the title. The hoverboots allow players to blaze through levels, blast off of ramps, and cross large distances by bouncing off of hoverboot-friendly pads.

Ratchet’s ship has seen some of the biggest improvements. During Tools of Destruction, I often found it counterintuitive when battling in air to control the ship and attack while using the default controls. In A Crack in Time, players will surely notice a difference in the fluidity and ease at which they will move through the universe. Players may also upgrade their ships, adding more life, better weapons, and increasing the speed by collecting Zoni which are scattered throughout the cosmos.

With all of the additions, fans will be happy to know that the game does not lose touch with its roots for one second. The same cheeky and head-shaking humor is ever present and even more over-the-top than ever before. The locations are once again absolutely stunning, creating worlds that are quite different, yet somehow familiar at the same time. Platforming has become more intricate with the addition of the hover boots, but the rail grinding segments still play a large role. Battling feels very much the same; however, it‘s obvious that developers have gone through painstaking effort to emphasize a need for strategy rather than an arsenal full of ridiculous weaponry.

Unlike other titles in the series, A Crack in Time is much less linear. Granted, previous titles in the series allowed players to revisit locations in order to find overlooked gold bolts, weapon upgrades, and R.Y.N.O. blueprints, A Crack in Time takes the exploration formula to the next degree. Throughout the game, players will travel to different sections of the universe and perform side quests on the various moons, or at random points in space for stranded or docked travelers. These side quests reward players with the familiar prizes as well as a new reward, the Zoni.

With all the solid gameplay elements the game has to offer, there are also a few kinks. Glitches are a common occurrence and I encountered several different types. Boxes appeared to float and I was able to grab objects, such as the Zoni, through solid walls. However there were certain instances where I completely fell through the geometry and was left stuck in the center of a planet with no other option but to reset the game. Thankfully extreme situations like this were very rare, and since the game auto-saves did not cause me to lose any substantial progress, nor did it detract from the enjoyment of the game.

A combination of both the new and the old provide for a stunning and fulfilling experience. Everything that fans have been waiting for is here, along with an incredible explanation of both Ratchet and Clank's past, and insight into their futures. Longtime fans of the series will surely be blown away, and newcomers will become instantly enamored with the series and everything it has to offer. It goes without saying that Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack and Time is the ultimate Ratchet and Clank experience, surpassing all others before it.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:


All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.


These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.


This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.


Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.


Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.


A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.


 

Comments

Jason Ross Senior Editor

11/29/2009 at 11:27 PM

120 PS2 games? And I thought I was bad with about 45 Wii titles... Wow!

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