After several games on Playstation 2, the Ratchet and Clank franchise found its way on to Playstation 3 with Tools of Destruction and then Quest for Booty, which was more of an addon than a real sequel per se. The next part of the two heroes' adventures is about to be released with Ratchet and Clank: A Crack In Time and on this occasion, we have decided to give a try to something completely new here on Gamersyde. From now on, provided as many publishers as possible send us their games in advance, we will be proposing some real written reviews, minus the final score however. These reviews will always be accompanied by videos illustrating the different paragraphs of the article and they will allow us to be more thorough than when we simply give our first impressions. Don't worry though, we will keep delivering our usual first 10 minute videos for all the games we will get just in time for release. So if you are into reading, follow me inside and please leave a comment as we would love to hear what you think.
The story of A Crack in Time exactly resumes where it stopped as Clank is now Dr Nefarious' prisoner. No need to panic if you are like me and you are not that familiar with the previous games, a rather amusing summary of what happened before will keep you busy while the game is being installed on your hard drive.
The two heroes being separated right from the start, the game is quite logically divided into two distinct gameplay types depending on the character you play. Clank will be on a quest to find out more about his past and origins while trying to keep the universe time-balanced, no less. Ratchet on his part will have to follow the different clues leading to his good old sidekick, which will involve a lot of traveling around everywhere in the galaxy.
As Clank, the gameplay proposed is a subtle mix of platforming and puzzles, pretty much all related with time control. You will for example need to learn to record your actions so as to use your other selves to open the door to the next room for example. It starts off pretty easy of course but it soon becomes quite challenging, hence a lot more interesting. It is also quite common to visit Clank's subconscious in some sorts of tutorial sequences aiming at teaching the player some new abilities as the game goes.
Even though Clank also has to use force from time to time, most of the shooting and punching takes place with Ratchet. Expect some heavy and explosive action sequences with the series' typical lethal and original arsenal. Like in the previous games, the weapons can be upgraded but this time, you don't have to spend your precious bolts to do so. Much like in a RPG, the efficiency of the weapons improves when you use them. As a result, the more you fire a weapon, the deadlier it gets. You can also find some hidden modules that allow you to customize your arsenal completely. There is obviously also a lot of jumping around to do and Ratchet always has to beware of the numerous traps he encounters. You are often asked to activate different mechanisms to move forward, which is pretty common in the genre. Added to that, Ratchet also happens to be able walk upside down on walls or ceilings every time he uses his gravity boots or in other instances, he can grind some rails much like in the other games of the franchise. There are some new additions to his gear as well since at some point you are given a pair of hover boots, a gadget that should make all Wipe Out fans very happy.
Keeping the game as varied as possible was definitely Insomniac's intention and then again it shows with the space sequences where you are in control of Ratchet's spaceship. Once a mission from the main quest is completed, you are free to wander around the sector you are in and visit one of the many small planets looking for collectibles: on each planet you can indeed either find a Zoni - one of these apparently harmless creatures responsible for Clan's capture and whose endgame still remains a bit of a mystery - or a gold bolt. Some might think these sequences are a clear wink at Mario Galaxy but after all they were already included in the PS2 games of the franchise, way before Nintendo's game was even announced. Apart from exploring all the different moons, you can also fight other ships, transforming the game into a good old shoot 'em up.
On a technical standpoint, Rachet and Clank: A Crack in Time is a mix of good and average. The first contact with the game is a very positive one as it comes with some nice-looking - and by the way funny - cutscenes. The lighting and textures are excellent and it almost feels like a Dreamworks movie - though some might consider it is not so much a good thing when it comes to sheer humor, question of tastes I suppose. All things considered, Insomniac did a really good job in that area and it should definitely be praised.
However, there is a clear difference in graphics with the gameplay not looking as good as the cutscenes. As a matter of fact, the lighting effects are a bit old gen and the backgrounds and landscapes sometimes feel a bit blurry which makes the visuals less clean than they should be in HD. That being said, don't get me wrong, the game still has its moments graphic-wise and the more you progress into the game, the better the environments get. Overall, the levels involving Clank do not look as good as those with Ratchet, which are also a lot more varied and colorful. Some textures are maybe a bit simplistic but there are also some nice effects to be seen like for example the water effect. When it comes to framerate issues, they are very few and the game runs at 60 fps in almost every situation.
The soundtrack on the contrary is rather flawless and it is easily among the best out there. The voice acting is good and the music score really makes you feel involved in an epic adventure. As a result, it is very easy to be sucked into the story, even when you're not a big fan of the franchise in the first place. The humor I was mentioning before has a lot to do with this impression and it is not only present during the cutscenes as you will hear the characters talk when playing too. So you can realize Insomniac's attention to details, just take a look at the video below showing some of the short adverts that come with every single weapon of the game.
Ratchet and Clank: A Crack in Time is packed with funny and endearing characters, varied and colorful environments and, above all, a very solid gameplay. If you like the genre, you will certainly find everything you are looking for in the game, especially since there is a lot of incentive to play with all the sidequests and collectibles. Needless to say that fans of the franchise will be more than pleased to join the two heroes on what appears to be their final adventure, which even happens to be more mature this time. If A Crack in Time really is the last game in the series, then it's a very good way to put an end to Ratchet and Clank's story. Here at Gamersyde, we did enjoy the game very much, it's now up to you to see if the game works like a charm for you too.