Saturday, April 14, 2012

Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time

File:Ratchet & Clank Future- A Crack in Time.jpg

And now it has come to this: the ending of the Future Trilogy in the Ratchet & Clank series, A Crack in Time, released in 2009 following Quest for Booty. Unlike the last game though, this is a full game you can get at retail and not as a download, and it should be noted that this is the first Ratchet & Clank game to have PS3 Trophy support. While it isn't the last of Ratchet & Clank, this game is definitely one of the best I've seen from the series, especially in regards to the story, and I enjoyed every moment of it.

Starting off immediately after the end of Quest for Booty, there is another scene that elaborates on the origins of Clank, calling all the way back to the the very first game in the series. At that moment, the one who had abducted Clank at the end of Tools of Destruction is revealed to be none other than Dr. Nefarious, Ratchet's enemy from Up Your Arsenal, along with his butler Lawrence. After Nefarious fails an attempt to hack into Clank's brain, and losing his trust with the Zoni, Clank escapes, but is caught by Nefarious again, where he learns about the structure they are in called the Great Clock, built in the exact center of the universe (give or take fifty feet). Later, Clank meets another robot named Sigmund, Junior Caretaker to the Clock, and learns of his destiny to manage time. Meanwhile in space, Ratchet and Qwark are busy looking for Clank, when the Lombax learns of an "exile" that may help him in his quest. When he meets the exile, it turns out to be a Lombax like him, named General Alister Azimuth, who seeks to use the Great Clock to undo the fate of the Lombax race. With Ratchet's help, Azimuth not only promises the return of Clank, but also the chance for Ratchet to see his family.

The story is overall very suspenseful and awe-inspiring, having a bit of a cinematic quality to it that helps carry the events forward. There are still quite a few laughs thrown in to prevent it from becoming too serious, but in any case there are some memorable moments from the cutscenes, including bits where the characters make a small jab at story conventions, including highly ironic revenge schemes and wavy flashback effects. There are also plenty of references made to previous games in the franchise, so they might be confusing to anyone who hasn't been keeping up with the franchise from the first installment onward. Regardless, it all felt very much like a movie. A really, really good movie at that.

Familiar control schemes and gunplay elements return in this game from later installments, making it easier to pick up and play, especially for those already initiated. Among these returning elements is the new wrench mechanic introduced in the last game, and it was still interesting in the way it was integrated. However, there are a couple of new upgrade systems; there is one for special "Constructo" weapons where you can pick up mods throughout the game to customize them to your purposes; there is also a new system for your ship, in which you can collect Zoni to give it new upgrades and abilities. There is also a new gameplay element for Clank, where in during his levels you can reverse time when you hit an object, thereby repairing it, slow down time by throwing a special grenade, or recording multiple versions of yourself in order to solve puzzles. I found some of these puzzles to be quite a challenge, and at least once I started one over again once I found a much simpler solution. However, this is the good kind of challenge where you can learn from your mistakes as opposed to the soul-crushing variety.

The music of this game is simply spectacular, with each cutscene having a film-like score that helps the cinematic feel mentioned earlier. The music of the levels is also very good to listen to, and as usual is not annoying in any way while helping build up the tone of the game. The voice acting is also just as good as ever, including the voices provided to the robot characters, and like the background music is not annoying. The acting present on the central characters is deep and can be rather emotional at times, allowing you to feel whatever they are feeling as well. On that note, the performance of Dr. Nefarious in this game served to remind me exactly why he is by far my favorite Ratchet & Clank villain to date. The graphics of this game are some of the best I've have ever seen, in fact the best so far in this series alone, with special praise going to the cutscenes that help display the characters expressions during the story (again, even the robot characters are included).

I didn't actually notice any major problems with this title, aside from there being a couple times when Ratchet would inexplicably fall off of something for no apparent reason. Besides that, I can't really say anything too negative about this game. On a side note, the difficulty setting returns here from Quest for Booty, so depending on your situation you can switch it up or down at any time.

Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time is one of the best this franchise has to offer, and the cinematic qualities it brings are stunning for a game in the modern age. While this is a game I would highly recommend, it's more enjoyable once you are more familiar with the characters presented by playing all the older (console) games. Overall the Future Trilogy is a very enjoyable aspect of the Ratchet & Clank series and is not to be passed up, most especially if you are already a fan. When I return to this series, things go two-dimensional.

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