After taking four years off to experiment with multiplayer and tower defense spin-offs, Ratchet & Clank have finally returned to the traditional platforming action that made them so iconic during the PS2 era. The Ratchet & Clank series started off extremely strong this generation with 2007’s “Tools Of Destruction” and its 2009 sequel “A Crack In Time” but Insomniac’s desire to expand their portfolio has left the Lombax and his robotic companion in somewhat of a tailspin. Into The Nexus is likely to be the last Ratchet & Clank game before the series receives a much-needed next-gen facelift, but does this budget release continue the downward trend or revitalize interest in the franchise?
Sadly the answer is “neither”. While Into The Nexus is undoubtedly the best Ratchet & Clank game in years, it simply doesn’t do enough to return the series to its former glory.
The story in Nexus sees Ratchet and Clank trying to prevent twin terrorist Vendra and Neftin Prog from unleashing evil beings into the universe. The intensity is strong from the start as the twins’ antics result in the death of Cronk and Zephyr, Warbots from Ratchet and Clank’s fleet. Unfortunately Ratchet’s quest for redemption is short lived as the Warbot’s deaths are all-but forgotten within minutes. But of course, the Ratchet & Clank games have always been more funny than theatrical so a “bleak tale of revenge” probably wouldn’t have been the best direction for the series to take.
As expected there is no shortage of weapons for Ratchet to acquire throughout his adventure, these weapons include old favourites such as the devastating Buzzblades, crowd clearing Fusion Bombs and everyone’s favourite killing companion Mr. Zurcon. The game also introduces a host of new weapons including the Christmas themed Winterizer, which spreads holiday cheer by turning enemies into snowmen and the Nightmare Box which distracts enemies by spawning ghastly beings from their nightmares! While it’s possible to complete most of the game using only your starting blaster, the excellent upgrade and leveling up mechanics encourages players to give each weapon an equal amount of love.
New items are also present in Nexus, most noticeable of which is the awesome Jetpack! Flying through the air reigning havoc down on enemies with Dual Omniblasters feels fantastic even if these sections are limited to a just a few areas. Keeping with the theme of gravity defiance, Ratchet can also use his newly acquired Grav Tether to create gravity bridges and gain access to seemingly inaccessible areas. Not to be out-done, Clank also gets some solo time in Nexus. Periodically throughout the game, Clank can enter Nexus portals to participate in some gravity-shifting, crate-box-pushing, rabbid-beast-dog-provoking, 2D-platforming action! These sections flirt with the idea of introducing unique puzzle elements to the game but unfortunately nothing of the sort ever comes to fruition. Insomiac clearly wasted a lot of potential here.
With a campaign that can be completed in roughly 6 hours, Into The Nexus is sure to disappoint many fans of the series. It also doesn’t help that the story has a fairly weak conclusion with great characters such as Captain Quirk being severely under-utilised. As a $30 budget release, Into The Nexus does enough to justify its price tag. But as a follow up to the awesome Crack In Time and Ratchet & Clank’s last hurrah on the PS3, I can’t help but feel that the series deserve better.
This review is based on a review copy of the game for the PlayStation 3 provided by Sony.