Video Game Review: ‘Ratchet and Clank Future: A Crack in Time’

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CHICAGO – There have been several highly-touted, well-marketed video game releases this season including “Uncharted 2,” “Assassin’s Creed II,” “Left For Dead 2,” and “COD: Modern Warfare 2,” but one of my most personally anticipated titles of the year has gone somewhat unnoticed. The lack of press made me wonder if perhaps I would be let down by “Ratchet and Clank Future: A Crack in Time”. Wonder no more - this is easily one of the best games of the year and a worthy entry (and reported finale) in this beloved franchise. Video Game Rating: 5.0/5.0
Video Game Rating: 5.0/5.0

As intensely addictive as anything released this year (or the last several), fans of the “Ratchet and Clank” series will have nothing to complain about and this title is entertaining enough that I believe even players who couldn’t tell the two characters apart would have a tough time putting down the controller. Continuously inventive, masterfully paced, and downright brilliant in the way it builds on what the series has produced to date, this is easily one of the most enjoyable experiences you’ll have with a controller this season or any other in recent memory.

Ratchet and Clank Future: A Crack in Time
Ratchet and Clank Future: A Crack in Time
Photo credit: Sony Computer Entertainment

“A Crack in Time” picks up right where the last game (the great “Tools of Destruction”) left off: with our two heroes divided. The robot Clank has been taken away by the mysterious, floating beings who helped him in the last game - the Zoni. Ratchet is stuck with the moronic Captain Qwark, trying to rescue his friend and stop the evil Dr. Nefarious from destroying the universe. It turns out that the Zoni have brought Clank to Nefarious and locked him the Great Clock, a universe-controlling device.

Ratchet and Clank Future: A Crack in Time
Ratchet and Clank Future: A Crack in Time
Photo credit: Sony Computer Entertainment

With the team separated, the game is naturally, at first, split between more action-oriented levels designed for Ratchet and his growing arsenal of weapons, and more puzzle-oriented levels for Clank. The lovable metallic dude has long-been the “brains of the operation,” but this game truly makes his levels into actual puzzles, introducing a system where Clank can play with time and different versions of himself to move from point A to point B. The balance between “Ratchet

Meanwhile, Ratchet progresses through the galaxy, collecting Zoni, bolts, and, of course, new-and-improved weapons. The ingenuity behind the weapons and the way in which to choose the best one for each encounter helps keep the game stay continuously fresh. Pick your favorite and kick some alien ass. (My advice would be to get to know your Buzz Blades. They rule.)

Some of Ratchet’s classic weapons like the Groovitron Glove, which forces your enemies to pause their attack and get their disco on, have been joined by new weapons like the awesome power of the Rift Inducer 5000, which opens a tear in space above your enemy for a creature to attack for you. Sweet. Some work better than others (I don’t think I ever killed anything with the impossible-to-use Dynamo of Doom) but most are clever and fun ways to make many, many enemies go boom.

The weapons are even more upgradeable and customizable than usual. The more a weapon is used, the more advanced it will become, and you can even find components for customization throughout the game. For example, you can take the Constructo Bomb and make it explode on impact, proximity, or with a shockwave. Just the weapon variety alone is ingenious and it’s only a small part of the “Ratchet and Clank” experience.

Ratchet and Clank Future: A Crack in Time
Ratchet and Clank Future: A Crack in Time
Photo credit: Sony Computer Entertainment

The universe of “A Crack in Time” includes several moons that can be viewed as “side missions,” wonderfully-designed distractions for Ratchet in between story missions. On various moons, Ratchet will find Zoni, which allows for upgrades to his spaceship, bolts, or even constructo weapon mods. The moon levels are all brief, five-to-ten minutes puzzles of their own and a wonderful break in the action of constant alien destruction.

Visually, “Ratchet and Clank” is simply flawless. The cartoon style of the game has been so masterfully perfected that it is almost overlooked when people talk about games with landmark graphics and design. The animation is simply beautiful when you step back from playing with your weapons to look at it. And the voice acting and sound are top notch as well.

As for length, “A Crack in Time” runs a little under ten hours (with most, but not all, of the moon missions completed). If this truly is the final game in the “Future” storyline, as has been widely reported, they couldn’t have gone out with a better title. I was upset at hearing that the “Ratchet and Clank Future” line would be ending, but couldn’t ask for a more accomplished final chapter.

‘Ratchet and Clank Future: A Crack in Time’ was released by Sony Computer Entertainment and developed by Insomniac Games. It is rated E10+ (Everyone 10 and Older). The game is exclusive for the PS3. It was released on October 27th, 2009. content director Brian Tallerico

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