I will start this review by saying, in my opinion, Ratchet and Clank is the last bastion of the platform game outside of Mario and the dwindling quality of both Sonic and Crash Bandicoot and the 'completed' Naughty Dog developed Jak series. Fortunately, Insomniac have never stopped delivering a great adventure with a Lombax and a Robot saving galaxies for all ages since 2002, originally, I was a total Jak fanboy. Then all of a sudden one day, I wanted more Jak, my friend had a copy of the original Ratchet and Clank around, over the duration of the game, I was a convert. I slowly started buying every Ratchet game secondhand and completing them over the long summer of 2007, I waited eagerly for 'Ratchet and Clank PS3'. I can only describe Ratchet and Clank as 'Crash Bandicoot meets MDK with a touch of Ape Escape' the series keeps on evolving every game too, adding more and more features, regular gadgets each game mixing elements from platform games, third person shooters and even RPG elements.
After playing the previous two games ('Tools of Destruction' and 'Quest For Booty') in the 'Future' saga I was hyped and saddened to play what was touted to be 'possibly the last Ratchet and Clank game'.
A Crack in Time is what a true sequel to Tools of Destruction should be, was it wise for Insomniac to count Quest for Booty as a full game? It was criticised as being a Ratchet title with half the length but was a direct conclusion from Tools of Destruction, I think it was justified for Insomniac to make it, just playing the first early sections of Ratchet's levels with Quark in ACiT one can really see that Q4B was a test exercise for most Ratchet players getting used to playing as Ratchet without Clank and vica versa like in Gladiator/Deadlocked.
The plot of ACiT is far deeper than any previous Ratchet games with the exception of Gladiator/Deadlocked, some of the elements are strokes of genius, the universe feels at more threat then ever and strong morals are touched upon. The visuals are stunning, even more so than the previous games, you can tell the engine has been tweaked and Ratchets environments are huge, stunning and far bigger than ToD's levels and areas appear to have completely different lighting, there's a lot more to do inside them after playing through levels.
Ratchet's new arsenal is less than most people are used to, but the Constructo weapons are much better than the upgrade system of ToD and is a bit like the modding of guns in Gladiator/Deadlocked, this really gives you some great options with firepower, it really makes you wonder Insomniac never did this before. The AI of helping NPCs such as Quark (finally acting as a hero again) or Azimuth is brilliant and sometimes feels incredibly close to a co-op experience, they also make up for the lack of Clank in cinematics and scripted events to carry out the narrative, which Gladiator/Deadlocked suffered in. Magna-Boots, Jet boots and spherical planetoids are alo welcome to return too.
Clank's levels finally get rid of the Clankbots that everyone is used to and tired of in all the previous games, Clank has some great action levels set in The Great Clock, taking elements of the time slowing powers the Zoni gave to Clank in ToD slowing down spinning and moving objects and solving some really original time recording elements. The time recording levels may annoy some, but at some point everything clicks, watching back the other Clanks and recording over some of the moving Clanks allow you to get a perfect sense of timing on what to do. The Great Clock is also shown as an eccentric character itself being placed in the centre of the universe, looking unpredictable as time itself.
The new 'Sector' hub world in ACiT is a huge progression than any previous Ratchet title, this includes a fully explorable sector with a couple of important places to visit for the storyline, also additionally, you can collect Zoni to upgrade your ship and traverse some great platforming based planetoids to gain Zoni, Contructo-Mods or Gold Bolts. In fact, I would say, these optional planetoids are where the real platforming elements shine, this is the real tough jumping puzzle stuff, some of these could take, 5 minutes, some 15 minutes to get to the prize at the end. The ingame radio is great too, you can listen to tried and tested Ratchet galactic space opera music, or choose several other types of music, one even managed by the pirates from ToD and Q4B as 'Pirate Radio', the other radio stations between music also mention other characters from the series past, making it clear that these characters still exist in the universe.
Dr Nefarious is back from the previous third game in the series on PS2 and back in the third game on the PS3. It almost feels natural for the megalomaniac villian and his tired butler Laurence, who really doesn't seem to care about anything to return. In this game, it's made clear that Laurence has become more independent and has become increasingly tired of Dr Nefarious' weird ways since being stranded on an asteroid for about 3 years ignoring Dr Nefarious and playing guitar. Without revealing any spoilers, the reason for Dr Nefarious' revenge plan is personal and linked to the recent past and to an extent, quite philosophical. Again, Doctor Nefarious has employed and manipulated a collection of goons on his side, a villanous space 'Lord' who starts to tire of Ratchet as soon as he meets him and a race of Valkyries, almost like the movie Flash Gordon's Hawkmen.
Anyway, Ratchet and Clank: A Crack in Time has one of the best endings of a Ratchet game for ages, a general conclusion to most of the past of Ratchet and Clank as individuals and without giving anything away, suggests that Ratchet and Clank will probably have more adventures in an even further future than the future series.
So ends another Ratchet game. Nice one Insomniac, please don't give up this branded charm you keep on delivering that stands out uniquely in a sea of mediocrity and fads for the gritty, mass marketable, mature angle that Resistance is making you head as a developer, I beg of you.
Insomniac, alone need to save the 3D cartoon platformer/action adventure, it is now clear after playing ACiT, that is their destiny. The action adventure platform game lives again.