Release Date: October 23, 2007
Developer: Insomniac Games
Metacrtic Score: 89
Next year we may witness something many of us never thought possible: a good video game movie. With the inclusion of Insomniac staff working on the project and with the Ratchet and Clank series being one of the better narrative driven game franchises, next years movie has me excited. With this in mind, and having already reviewed the HD releases of the PS2 games, I decided to go back and replay the PS3 entries.
The game starts with our heroes getting a call from the not-so-super-superhero Captain Qwark, informing them that their home city of Metropolis is in the midst of a full scale invasion and he needs their help. Ratchet and Clank go to help, fighting off an army of robotically enhanced fish working for Emperor Percival Tachyon, prince and sole survivor of the Cragmites. Tachyon invaded Metropolis in order to kill Ratchet as he is also the last of his race, Lombaxes who were responsible for ending the Cragmite rule over the galaxy.
Naturally the two get away and go on a quest to find how the Lombaxes dealt with the cramites so they can do the same to Tachyon. As always their journey takes them too a verity of planets, this time involving the Lombax and Cragmite home worlds, the base of a group of robot space pirates and many more.
The Ratchet and Clank games have always sold themselves on humor, and this is no exception. The game is exceptionally well written and funnier than most humor based games i’ve played (looking at you GTA5). The biggest issue is that the formula became more and more noticeable as I played. That’s not to say the formula isn’t work. I mean, I was laughing always through the game, but there were no surprises left. There nothing like how in “Up Your Arsenal” there’s an extended bit where Clank becomes a movie star and Ratchet, unaccustomed to playing second fiddle, becomes jealous. That’s both funny and an evolution on their relationship. Here that kind of thing just doesn’t happen. I can’t really complain to much about this as I did have a smile on my face throughout the game, but I couldn’t help wanting just a bit more out of the game.
The one thing that did bother me was the times it was clear that the story was an after thought. This is normal for games, the developers comes up with a game play section then work it into the story, and that’s fine as most of the times it’s done well enough for players to not notice. But here there’s a mission where you go to a planet, do noting of any real consonance then leave. It’s clear the developers wanted this section here, but couldn’t be bothered to give the player a reason why. In a story driven game like this that really undermines the experience and pulls me right out of the game.
In the end, the story may not be my favorite in the franchise, but it lives up to it’s name. Tachyon is no Doctor Nefarious but he is a great villain in his own right. The relationship between him and Ratchet is very Batman/Joker like; similar circumstances leading one to villainy and the other to herodom, and I like that type of character contrast a lot. A few minor issues aside, this reminded me why I’ve loved these games for so many years now.
If there is one thing Insomniac knows better than just about everyone else working in game development it’s how to create a verity of fun to use guns. From the original Ratchet and Clank to their Resistance trilogy, Insomniac have proven they know how to make you love the act of shooting stuff. Even though this game (as well as the rest of the Ratchet and Clank games) is equal parts platforming and shooting, the shooting is still the most memorable part of the experience. However, I can’t help but feel like Insomniac took a step backwards with the game. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
For me, in the original game I mostly used my wrench to fight enemies and overall the game felt more “platformer” that “action platformer”. In “Up Your Arsenal” (the 3rd game) the action took center stage and the platforming felt more like an obligation that a core game play pillar. The second game, Going Commando, managed to be a great middle ground for these two extremes, and it’s this game “Tools of Destruction” reminded me of the most. While some ideas have been taken from latter games (like multiple gun levels and gun upgrades) the overall feel of the game play was more akin to Going Commando. Even though Up Your Arsenal is my personal favorite in the franchise I think this was a great way to go in reintroducing the franchise, as this model is the best version of what Ratchet and Clank should be. And for the few of you confused by that statement, let me put it too you like this: The Dark Knight is my favorite onscreen Batman, but The Animated Series is the best version of Batman. To me, Up Your Arsenal is The Dark Knight while Going Commando and Tools of Destruction are The Animated Series. Got it now? Good, moving on.
The game play suffers in the same way the story does, as there is nothing new here. Sure, the game play is polished to a mirror shine, but it’s all incarnations of stuff I’ve done before. Space battles, grind rails, hook shot, they all make a return…again. Again, I enjoyed just about every second of the game but I can’t help but wish there was just a little something to help the game stand out a bit more. Most of the weapons are fun to use (personal favorite: the Groovitron, more games need an item that makes your enemies dance around) but you can say that about every game in the franchise. The platforming is spot on but again, I wouldn’t expect any less from a Ratchet and Clank game. The game I’m reminded of the most is Dark Souls 2. Everything that needs to be right here is right, but the love and creativity isn’t up to the same standard. In neither case does this make the games bad, but you’ll end up wanting more of what made the originals great and not quite sure why this isn’t as rewarding as it should be.
Game Play: 4/5
Music and Sound:
Here I have no complaints. At all. I hate to just say that but in the end it’s the truth. The cast all sound great, the guns all sound powerful and the monsters sound unique and different enough from each other that when I heard something from off screen I knew what was coming. The music always fit the mood and I never found myself turning down the volume or putting the TV on mute to get away from anything. I enjoyed listening to the conversations between characters, I liked Tachyon high picked squeal of a voice, and I even liked the vendors voices (even if they were a little stereotypical). Again, I have no issues here.
Music and Sound: 5/5
Overall Score: 4.3/5
Who is this game for:
Other than long time fans, I’d say the people who need to play this are those who want entry into the franchise. This is a great starting point, and if the only big budget platformers you’ve played are Nintendos, this will offer a bit more verity.