Note: Apologies for the late review, this game was only recently released in Europe.
The conclusion of Ratchet & Clank’s “Future” arc is finally upon us and if like me you’ve been waiting two years to discover what Clank’s fate it will come with a huge sigh of relief. If you’re new to the series or missed out on R&C’s previous PS3 adventures (including the downloadable Quest For Booty) don’t worry, A Crack In Time does a fine job bringing you up to speed on the story whist the game is secretly installing. The final moments of 2007’s Tools Of Destruction saw Clank being “kidnapped” by mysterious Zoni creatures and the entirety of A Crack In Time revolves around reuniting the pair, thwarting Dr. Nefarious latest plans and discovering the answers to questions which has been present since the series debut in 2002.
The developers at Insomniac have done a great job separating both Ratchet and his robot buddy Clank’s individual campaigns and hopping between them serves as an excellent way to break up the pace and keep the game feeling fresh from the moment it starts until the end credits roll. For the majority of this action-packed adventure you’ll be playing as Ratchet, a weapon-toting rodent on a mission to rescue his best friend. The Ratchet sections focus primarily on platforming and combat with a few environmental puzzles thrown in every now and again. Initially you’ll start the campaign with nothing more than a simple blaster but as you progress and collect bolts you’ll have the opportunity to purchase additional weapons from venders scattered across the universe. Furthermore each weapon can be leveled up simply by using them and collecting Weapon Packs allows you to customize some of them to your liking. Eventually you’ll be heading in to huge battles armed with everything from a sniper rifle to a disco ball which emits strobe-lighting and funky music, forcing near-by enemies to break out their best dance moves even while you continue to shoot them. Ratchet also has some new weapons to choose from including a Sonic-Eruptor which sends out deadly sound waves but unfortunately none of these quiet as unique or impressive as the selection available in Tools Of Destruction.
A Crack In Time humor has also been slightly downgraded from the previous two games. The storyline is handled far more seriously this time around and the cast of robots the over-excited main protagonist aren’t a patch on the knuckle-headed pirates who Ratchet & Clank were previously up against. Everything else in A Crack In Time is a vast improvement over its predecessors, especially the exploring the galaxy which previously was nothing more than a map screen and lengthy loading process. Now you have direct control of your ship and you are free to explore the solar system shooting down enemies, taking on side missions and visiting planets to collect bolts and upgrades for your ship or weapons.
While Ratchet’s motivation is very self-serving, Clank’s quest is far more extravagant as he’s out to save the entire universe. Without giving too much of the story away it involves Dr. Nefarious attempting to gain access the Great Clock located in the exact center of the universe (give or take 50-feet), accessing the Clock will allow him to travel through time like a young Michael J. Fox however doing so could rip apart the very fabric of the universe. Clank is the only one who gain access to the Clock, hence the reason Nefarious had him kidnapped in the first place, but early on he manages to escape from his imprisonment and a journey of self-discovery ensues. The Clank section are a direct contrast to Ratchet’s and instead of mindless shooting you’re required to solve brain-bending puzzles. Standing on time portals allows Clank to record his actions and have a duplicate of himself carry them out, essentially putting himself in two places at once. Thing start off relatively easy with simple “use clone to stand on door switch” puzzles but eventually you’ll have to organize and manage up for four versions of yourself and have them all work in tandem. These sections are among the best in the game and they’re spaced out appropriately to avoid them from becoming repetitive. In terms of combat Clank carries around a large time-rewinding staff which can be used to melee enemies, deflect projectiles and repair damaged objects. Clank can also throw time orbs to slow down enemies and moving platforms, granting him access to perviously unreachable areas.
Graphically A Crack In Time is on-par with Tools Of Destruction and it runs at a solid 60fps through-out regardless of how many enemies, explosions or bolts are being displayed screen. The voice work is as excellent as ever and some parts of dialogue will literally have you laughing out loud. A few minor gripes come courtesy of games not-so-perfect camera system and Ratchet’s automatic lock-on feature which sometimes has you aiming at non-threatening enemies in the distance rather than the guy standing right in front of you. Like I said these are minor gripes which appear infrequently and the game offers 3 different camera types to help combat both these issues.
As it stands A Crack In Time is a excellent title and one of the best platformers ever made, at this point R&C just may be Mario’s closest competitors for the King Of Platformers crown. If you choose to avoid all the side missions you can probably blow through the campaign in a little over 7 hours and with no online component other than leader boards some may feel this isn’t worth a $60 purchase but trust me the fun-factor alone justifies every penny. If you own a PS3 this is an essential game to add to your collection.