I want to start off with a fact. Ratchet & Clank is awesome. In fact, Ratchet & Clank is so awesome that I do not want to waste your time in reading a long and convoluted review about how awesome it is and why you should spend your hard earned cash, or your parents’ for that matter. However, I do not think that the whole of “The Reviewer’s Club” will be too happy with a two-worded “Go, Buy” review.
So, let me start at the beginning. It all started with a wrench. Ratchet could not move and throw the wrench at the same time. Honest. Reminds you of Resident Evil, huh? But you need not fear much; all of that has been remedied. In Ratchet & Clank: A Crack in Time, Ratchet can throw the wrench while he moves, the environments are more destructible, the script is funnier, Captain Copernicus Qwark is still the man and the Clank levels are not boring anymore. And yes, all of this at 60 frames per second. Well, most of the time anyway.
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Regardless, of my banal banter and my attempts to be humorous, I would like to state, and very categorically at that, that A Crack in Time is the best game in the entire series. But how does it achieve that, you might ask mayhap? For starters, the game has refined itself in various segments, whether it be shooting, platforming and some more, er, shooting and platforming, with some great puzzles thrown in between. Yes, the platforming segments are fantastic in ACIT. As Ratchet, you are in search of your robot pal, Clank, who was abducted by the mysterious beings known as the Zoni (at the end of Tools of Destruction), who have unwittingly managed to hand him over to the duo’s arch nemesis Doctor Nefarious. While the previous games did touch upon Ratchet’s lineage and how he picks up the trail on Clank, ACIT is all about how he attempts to rescue him and in turn save the universe from Dr. Nefarious’, well, nefarious designs.
While all of that is nice and sweet, what matters most in an R&C game is the shooting and the platforming and this game is by far the one that gives the player the satisfaction of some great, responsive controls, a superb level design and plenty of room to blow stuff up. You honestly cannot come up with the name of one other game that gives you a bull frog-like creature as a weapon that uses its loud belches as ammo (that’s my interpretation anyway). What about a pissed off little robot that hovers around you, killing everything in sight while letting the world know that he does not come in peace. Hilarious.
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While travelling to different planets was always a part of R&C games, ACIT gives you inter-planetary travel – expanded. You can now explore space, travel to some smaller planets, find stuff (read Golden bolts and other assorted items) and fight the scum of the galaxy while you are at it. It must be mentioned that these planets have some great platforming segments and are an enhanced version of the ‘spherical worlds’ concept introduced by Going Commando and Up Your Arsenal (also seen in Super Mario Galaxy). This part of the game actually seeks to bring out the ‘collector’ in you. Seek out new stuff, help out a few space travellers and gain some more bolts; not a bad idea at all. The space travel takes place on a 2D plane and while it could have been better with a full 3D plane, I have no complaints about it. You can upgrade your spaceship by collecting items, which might grant you access to better weapons, shields and manoeuvrability.
While you play as Ratchet, Insomniac did not forget about Clank, and boy, have they improved on his gameplay. Clank’s segments centre primarily around platforming and puzzles. While the platforming part has been done well, it is the puzzles that steal the show. These aren’t the ‘fetch and use’ variety that you encounter in most games, but rather the ones that make you use your cranium a bit. All of these involve manipulation of time using ‘time pads’, where Clank can record his actions in a particular time frame and use those actions to help him in another time frame.
Next page: IVG verdict