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Ratchet and Clank: A Crack in Time Review

Ratchet and Clank: A Crack in Time pack shot
Developer:Insomniac Games
Publisher:Sony
Genre:Platform/Action/Adventure
Platform:Playstation 3
Official Site:http://www.ratchetandclank.com/
Release Date:November 6th, 2009 (UK)
Reviewer:Andy Hemphill (Bandit)
 

Insomniac Games' wise-cracking space-faring Lombax/Robot duo are back, and their taste for saving the galaxy, shooting the bad guys with outlandish weapons and collecting shiny silver nuts is undiminished - Ratchet and Clank are back on form.

Completing the storyline started back in Ratchet and Clank: Tools of Destruction, the opening finds lonely gun-nut Lombax Ratchet scouring the galaxy in search of his robotic little friend Clank, who has wandered off to find where he was made.

Idiotic B-movie star Captain Quark also returns, still making rubbish gags at every opportunity, and the plot starts up at a cracking pace, as Ratchet et al have to stop a robotic evil-doer from harnessing the power of time, destroying the galaxy and generally being a nuisance.

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To do this you have to travel across the galaxy in your tricked-out spaceship, solve a few puzzles, tackle time-warped platform sections and shoot thousands upon thousands of enemies, all in a universe which, despite being seven games down the line, still feels fresh and fun to play.

Ratchet's arsenal is back in force, ranging from cool new weapons which you can customise by using 'constructor-kits', to a few old favourites and even a few ridiculous weapons - like the one that can turn your enemies into monkeys.

The gameplay itself is a pleasant variety of platforming, shooting, space-based shooting and some brilliant puzzle levels which really tax your brain - and feature Clank as the star.

Yes, the Lombax's ever-trusty backpack robot takes a much larger role in this game, becoming a playable character in some of the best platforming of the series so far.

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Inside the massive clock created by evil robot overlord Doctor Nefarious (which controls all the time in the universe) Clank has to solve a series of fiendish puzzles which have you co-operating with past versions of yourself, as the canny little robot has to clone himself and manipulate time in order to move from room to room.

It's a surprising test of lateral-thinking, which has you working hard to synch up your current actions with those carried out minutes ago, and completion of the tasks conjures up a lot of pride, as well as a ton of collectables - the lifeblood of the Ratchet and Clank series.

If time-bending puzzles aren't your thing though, A Crack in Time offers all the best platform action that the RandC series does so well, with Ratchet and friends making their way across worlds of molten metal and serene forests in equal measure, facing off against some terrifying beasties and constantly upgrading weapons and tools as you go along - the sheer voyage of discovery was enough to keep me hooked.

The galaxy has many planets and areas to explore, and mile after mile of puzzles and challenges offer practically endless gameplay. I would also often find myself returning to a planet or space station to find those extra collectables the developers had so carefully hidden, so I could once again upgrade my constructo-shotun into the multi-missile, lava-launching shotgun of death I'd always wanted.

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Good thing too, the sheer variety of enemies you face off against is pretty mind bending, running the gamut from giant robots to tiny, weedy aliens, hordes of killer (purple) mushrooms and just about every kind of conceivable enemy you can think of.

Though the game can sometimes be a bit unfair, often filling the screen with so many enemies that it is difficult to see, the control scheme is efficient enough to keep up with the action. There are also a few sections which play a bit like a 2D space side-scroller, where Ratchet pilots his spaceship and has to blast entire navies of space pirates out of the sky.

Though these sections are far too easy, they're a nice distraction to the 3D platforming mainstay of the single player campaign.

Graphically the game is brilliant triumph. The PS3's system displays everything in a dizzying array of colours, with no slowdown or texture bugs when things get busy- as they often do.

The voice acting and sound effects are also excellent, with the familiar voice actors of Ratchet, Clank and Quark pulling off hammy dialogue and one-liners with panache.

Doctor Nefarious himself is my personal favourite however, walking a fine line between Einstein's genius and starting stupidity in his plans and plots, all backed up by a shrill, whining voice and great animation - he's the kind of villain you love to hate.

Summary

Ratchet and Clank: A Crack in Time, is a brilliant platformer with loads to see and do, sparkling graphics and voice acting and a charm which keep you coming back for more. There's still life in this venerable old series it seems, so Ratchet and Clank veterans and newcomers alike will find a lot to enjoy here.

The bottom line
9.0 / 10

Good stuff

  • Loads to see and do
  • Good plot
  • Great gameplay
  • Brilliant voice acting

Not so good stuff

  • Dodgy camera


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