I’m choosing this game as my first review of the year for a few reasons:
1) Nobody needs to do another Uncharted 2 review we all know its awesome, all I’m gonna say about that game is its the best game I’ve played in 2009 and I actually feel honored to have played such a masterpiece.
2) RnC:ACiT isn’t selling well, at least based on the NPD results on its release so I thought I might shine the spotlight on this gem that gets snubbed because of the triple A fall titles. It’s kinda like Demon Souls, anyone who plays it gives it two thumbs up but unlike Demon Souls, RnC:ACiT doesn’t get the support of the hardcore because its ‘too easy.’
3) This is the first game I finished for 2010 and like most gamers I put off buying this game to make way for Uncharted 2, Modern Warfare 2, Assassin’s Creed 2 and even GoW: Collection.
4) I feel that this is a great recommendation because it caters to a wide audience. If you’re a hardcore gamer you might be a bit tired from all the gory action you get from all the shooters or beat em ups that have come out almost every other week for the past few months. And if your a casual player, you’ll appreciate the great cartoony graphics this game offers and a learning curve that even my six year old niece can handle.
So I’m writing this in hopes that more people at least rent the game if not buy it. Naughty Dog is getting accolades left and right for UC 2 and it is definitely well-deserved but Insomniac deserves some recognition too! With the way the economy is, a studio’s track record might not a whole lot if their current release tanks, so support Insomniac so that we can get Resistance 3 this year and possibly a new IP by next year!
The story picks off where Tools of Destruction left off or more accurately Quest for Booty, Ratchet is still searching for Clank and if you’ve never played the two games I just mentioned you can still pick this game up because the intro (install) interview with Quark will help you get up to speed story-wise.
The game starts off real well by putting you in Clank’s shoes and then after you finish that level you get to control Ratchet. This is really good game design because you’ll never get bored doing one thing, the gameplay changes drastically between Ratchet and Clank’s segments. Ratchet offers you the classic gameplay we all know and love, run around killing weird looking aliens with weird looking guns and a few platforming elements now and then, but mostly its run and gun. Clank’s segments are where most of the new things come from, like ToD its platform heavy and you get to control time (limited compared to ToD) but the new puzzles are really cool. You get to solve puzzles where you have to record multiple copies of yourself to perform several tasks at a time (my most favorite addition to the game), and once you get your staff you also get to fix time anomalies on planets. To sum up the differences, with Ratchet and his wrench you mostly destroy stuff while Clank uses his staff to fix things that are broken.
Once you get Aphelion fixed you’ll now be able to upgrade her everytime you collect 3 zonis, you know those weird flying gremlins that used to help Clank control time. This is a really nice addition to the game because we all love to upgrade stuff however I feel that its impact isn’t as good as it could have been due to the lackluster space battles. This ‘improved’ version of Ratchet’s travel from planet to planet is definitely more robust compared to the previous game and its nice to be able to move around more in space but the space battles are so boring. I loved the hectic space battles in Tools of Destruction it felt like a was playing a really pretty 3D version of Gladius, but in ACiT the more powerful weapon upgrades for your ship falls flat because the battles are too easy and repetitive, even the boss battles didn’t feel challenging. This is probably my only complaint and by the last galaxies I was just running away from enemies because I didn’t feel the need to deal with them anymore.
But its not all boring space battles, galaxies also offer mini adventures ala Mario Galaxies where you can land on a planetoid for different challenges in order to get gold bolts, zonis or weapon upgrades. This was a welcome addition to the game, the planetoids vary enough, from killing all enemies to solving puzzles that you don’t get bored completing all of them and their short enough that they don’t stray you away from the main story too much.
Any fan of the series knows that weapons are one of the things that make or break a Ratchet and Clank game. You’ll be pleased to know that there are a lot of weapons, old favorites like the Negotiator and Buzz Blades make a return but you’ll also have new weapons like the Sonic Eruptor at your disposal. And even if you’re new to the game you’ll never be overwhelmed because you’ll be treated to a cool instruction video whenever you purchase a weapon. There are three constructo weapons that you get, Bomb, Pistol and Shotgun and these are fully customisable weapons that you.. uhm, customize by whenever you find constructo mods. I really like this new feature because any particular mod you apply really changes the way you use a weapon and its performance. However I do miss the old upgrade system from Tools of Destruction where you spend raritarium in order to upgrade weapons and you get a special attribute as a last upgrade. I wish this way of upgrading was still present for other non-constructo weapons on top of the traditional levelling mechanic by using them. I was kinda sad that my favorite nano-swarmers didn’t return, but I do like most of the weapons this time except for the Tesla Spikes which I didn’t even get to max level and the RyNo V, which is not worth getting in my opinion but you’ll probably get it anyway. Some gadgets also got promoted to being weapons, so remember to use them a lot so that they get upgraded as well.
You’ll also get a few items that’ll help you with platforming elements Ratchet-wise the omnisoaker replaces the gelanator and the best item is of course the hoverboots. Once you’re comfortable with its use, the hoverboots will make it a lot easier to travel and they help a lot when you’re trying to catch zoni’s that run from you. However, a lot of my deaths did come from sharp turns on planetoids where you need to use the hoverboots to go from platform to platform, but thats ok it wasn’t THAT frustrating.
As for the graphics, its a PS3 exclusive and Insomniac knows the hardware well, it looks better than Tools of Destruction and the animation from destroying crates to enemies’ movements all look great. The cutscenes are georgious and the environments really come alive, each planet feels distinct from the next and floor on Clank’s subconscious levels is pretty mind-blowing. My only issue with the graphics were with the lighting, some of the shading seemed to tear up a lot in areas like the arena.
Story-wise this game feels a bit more mature because it deals more with both Ratchet and Clank’s past than before. The story actually drives the gameplay because you spend most of your time playing Ratchet and Clank separately, this allows us to explore their character individually which of course makes us more invested in how the story turns out. Ratchet tries to find Clank while also possibly reuniting himself with the rest of the Lombaxes while Clank’s interesting past is revealed through the Great Clock. The jokes don’t always get a good laugh but they maintain a light-hearted feel throughout the whole game. Twists are easy to predict but one thing I wasn’t sure of while I was playing was whether or not the game will end with Ratchet and Clank still going on adventures together, and I won’t spoil it for you don’t worry.
Overall this game is a must buy in my book because it delivers on all fronts, gameplay, graphics, story you name it! I do recognize the criticism that this game is more of the same but its a freakin’ sequel what did you expect?! It has enough new things in it that the game stands well on its own but of course it has to give a nod to the series. I hate hearing words like ‘this game won’t reinvent the wheel’ on reviews because it just doesn’t make sense to use it on a sequel. Sure I like innovation but I’ll leave that to new IP’s, I’d rather have a consistenly good and improving series rather than one that keeps experimenting and failing to build a fan-base.
And if you’re don’t want to read all the details here are my scores:
Gameplay – 9.8
Story – 8.5
Graphics – 9
Now if you’ll excuse me, I gotta go back to playing so I can get my first platinum trophy!