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Exploring Time Anomalies With Ratchet & Clank

We take a crack at the early levels from Insomniac's latest.

The next chapter in the Ratchet & Clank Future storyline opens with Clank, out cold, and in the clutches of the nefarious... uh... Dr. Nefarious. This picks up pretty directly from the end of the previous adventure, Quest for Booty, where the curious Zoni creatures, which worship Clank, have made a deal with the bad doctor in an attempt to repair the malfunctioning Clank. Nefarious, being the nefarious type, isn't exactly showing up to help. But the full extent of his plan is cut a bit short, as this first Clank sequence is really more of a tutorial bit, getting you reacclimatized to the basic controls of the game. The game quickly shifts over to Ratchet, who's out exploring with Captain Qwark. At this point, the Ratchet & Clank gameplay reveals itself to be the same style you've come to expect from the series.

Guns, guns, guns! 
So yes, you've got a wrench. And yes, you start with a default projectile weapon. And yes, the world looks huge when it first loads up and is really quite breathtaking. But it doesn't take long for the differences in this, the second full retail release for the duo on the PlayStation 3, to become evident. As you'd expect from a sequel, the graphics have improved over the previous games. I always felt that the first Ratchet & Clank Future seemed a little flat. I mean, it definitely looked better than the game's PS2 installments, but I was left with the impression that getting it up and running on new hardware was the big task, which perhaps didn't leave a ton of time to really exploit the PS3 hardware. Here, nearly two years later, A Crack In Time has a more-vibrant look to it that really pops off the screen. Things like shadows and other subtle details really help complete the look. Right off the bat, this feels like the visual quality that Ratchet & Clank fans probably wanted all along.

You'll also have some new mechanics to deal with. You've probably already seen a fair amount of the "record and playback" gameplay from the Clank side. You'll stand on colored pads and solve puzzles by creating multiple versions Clank, recording your motions, and then playing them back while controlling another incarnation of Clank. This lets you be in two (or three... or four) places at once, which leads to a lot of puzzles based on placing a Clank on a door-opening button or two while running through the open door with another Clank. You know what? Describing time-travel in text is always a little silly. Here's some video of that in action, in case you haven't seen it:
  
  
On the Ratchet side, you'll still collect a ton of weapons. This time, there's a series of weapons that can be customized. You'll start with the Constructo Pistol, but you'll quickly get the Constructo Bomb glove, too. You'll acquire parts for these weapons as you go to upgrade and alter the weapons as you see fit. The first upgrade you encounter is a rapid fire mod for the pistol, which is handy. Weapons also gain experience as you use them, which increases things like their rate of fire, damage, ammo capacity, and so on.

 Muy nefarioso.
Time anomalies also show up very early on the Ratchet side of the story. You'll see areas where time has just stopped, leaving platforms in a state of frozen, partial collapse. Another area has platforms moving back and forth in a sort of time loop. It's definitely an interesting look, and, well, goofy time-related stuff like this almost always does it for me. It'll be interesting to see how the rest of the game plays off of these ideas.

The other big component of A Crack In Time is space travel. This is something that's appeared in previous games, but it's changed quite a bit. All of the action takes place on a flat, 2D plane. Though the loss of a few degrees of freedom might sound like a downgrade, it ends up coming off as pretty stylized. Plus it makes it easier to explore and move around the galaxy. There will be plenty of side missions and other optional objectives to perform on little planets found in space. Some of these will help you capture more Zoni, which are used to give your ship more upgrades. The space stuff is pretty neat from what I've played of it.

Even when checking out brief portions of what's being billed as the final installment in the Ratchet & Clank Future story arc, I really get the impression that Insomniac is tightly focused on building some solid core systems that play nicely alongside plenty of stuff that feels exactly as you'd expect a Ratchet & Clank game to feel. From the early bits I've played, the whole thing seems to be coming together pretty well. I'm definitely looking forward to seeing how the final version turns out. Jeff Gerstmann on Google+
34 Comments
Posted by Jeff

The next chapter in the Ratchet & Clank Future storyline opens with Clank, out cold, and in the clutches of the nefarious... uh... Dr. Nefarious. This picks up pretty directly from the end of the previous adventure, Quest for Booty, where the curious Zoni creatures, which worship Clank, have made a deal with the bad doctor in an attempt to repair the malfunctioning Clank. Nefarious, being the nefarious type, isn't exactly showing up to help. But the full extent of his plan is cut a bit short, as this first Clank sequence is really more of a tutorial bit, getting you reacclimatized to the basic controls of the game. The game quickly shifts over to Ratchet, who's out exploring with Captain Qwark. At this point, the Ratchet & Clank gameplay reveals itself to be the same style you've come to expect from the series.

Guns, guns, guns! 
So yes, you've got a wrench. And yes, you start with a default projectile weapon. And yes, the world looks huge when it first loads up and is really quite breathtaking. But it doesn't take long for the differences in this, the second full retail release for the duo on the PlayStation 3, to become evident. As you'd expect from a sequel, the graphics have improved over the previous games. I always felt that the first Ratchet & Clank Future seemed a little flat. I mean, it definitely looked better than the game's PS2 installments, but I was left with the impression that getting it up and running on new hardware was the big task, which perhaps didn't leave a ton of time to really exploit the PS3 hardware. Here, nearly two years later, A Crack In Time has a more-vibrant look to it that really pops off the screen. Things like shadows and other subtle details really help complete the look. Right off the bat, this feels like the visual quality that Ratchet & Clank fans probably wanted all along.

You'll also have some new mechanics to deal with. You've probably already seen a fair amount of the "record and playback" gameplay from the Clank side. You'll stand on colored pads and solve puzzles by creating multiple versions Clank, recording your motions, and then playing them back while controlling another incarnation of Clank. This lets you be in two (or three... or four) places at once, which leads to a lot of puzzles based on placing a Clank on a door-opening button or two while running through the open door with another Clank. You know what? Describing time-travel in text is always a little silly. Here's some video of that in action, in case you haven't seen it:
  
  
On the Ratchet side, you'll still collect a ton of weapons. This time, there's a series of weapons that can be customized. You'll start with the Constructo Pistol, but you'll quickly get the Constructo Bomb glove, too. You'll acquire parts for these weapons as you go to upgrade and alter the weapons as you see fit. The first upgrade you encounter is a rapid fire mod for the pistol, which is handy. Weapons also gain experience as you use them, which increases things like their rate of fire, damage, ammo capacity, and so on.

 Muy nefarioso.
Time anomalies also show up very early on the Ratchet side of the story. You'll see areas where time has just stopped, leaving platforms in a state of frozen, partial collapse. Another area has platforms moving back and forth in a sort of time loop. It's definitely an interesting look, and, well, goofy time-related stuff like this almost always does it for me. It'll be interesting to see how the rest of the game plays off of these ideas.

The other big component of A Crack In Time is space travel. This is something that's appeared in previous games, but it's changed quite a bit. All of the action takes place on a flat, 2D plane. Though the loss of a few degrees of freedom might sound like a downgrade, it ends up coming off as pretty stylized. Plus it makes it easier to explore and move around the galaxy. There will be plenty of side missions and other optional objectives to perform on little planets found in space. Some of these will help you capture more Zoni, which are used to give your ship more upgrades. The space stuff is pretty neat from what I've played of it.

Even when checking out brief portions of what's being billed as the final installment in the Ratchet & Clank Future story arc, I really get the impression that Insomniac is tightly focused on building some solid core systems that play nicely alongside plenty of stuff that feels exactly as you'd expect a Ratchet & Clank game to feel. From the early bits I've played, the whole thing seems to be coming together pretty well. I'm definitely looking forward to seeing how the final version turns out.
Staff
Posted by N3onThr33

I can't wait for this game. : D

Edited by Hitchenson

Man, there's been a ton of Ratchet games now, eh? 
 
...needs moar Jak franchise. 
 
EDIT: Oh, so this is a full retail release? Cool.

Posted by SpiderX20

"Muy nefarioso." haha
 
Looks sweet, hope to see the demo out before the game's release.

Posted by SJSchmidt93

Stupid Sony, 
 
Move this to November goddammit, Uncharted 2 is October.

Posted by bwooduhs

I cannot wait to play this. I just need a PS3 first.

Posted by welly

Looks ok. Uncharted 2 is my priority though.

Edited by Miles92

Thanks for previewing this game! A lot of outlets are over-looking it :(  Hopefully you could talk more about this on the bombcast? 
 
Thanks, Miles

Posted by eroticfishcake

Games involving time travel hurts my brain...fun though!

Posted by Dan_CiTi

Even without the Star Fox type stuff, it looks like one hell of a game, maybe the best in the series. I'm glad they've kept the same HUD too, it can't be beat.

Posted by ververdan0226
@N3onThr33 said:
" I can't wait for this game. : D "
Posted by ColumnBreaker

Yesssssss. Finally, two reasons to unbox my ps3 again. This looks awesome.

Posted by Zlatko
@ColumnBreaker: Lol unbox it again? You must be poor and unwilling to try games out of the platforming genre or something. The PS3 has the most games out of all the consoles of AAA quality and worth your time/money.
 
Question is which haven't you been willing to try out and at least rent?
Posted by PLWolf

Hearing the voice actor for Teddy in this game still trips me out.

Posted by ColumnBreaker
@Zlatko said:
" @ColumnBreaker: Lol unbox it again? You must be poor and unwilling to try games out of the platforming genre or something. The PS3 has the most games out of all the consoles of AAA quality and worth your time/money.  Question is which haven't you been willing to try out and at least rent? "
Actually neither, but thanks for your assumption. I'm not a metal gear fan, I'm not a killzone fan. I've played both, in fact I've played a lot of games that I simply don't care for on the platform. It wasn't a knock against the ps3, just me professing my current joy that games I'm interested in are arriving very soon.
Posted by diggity_dan

I'm more stoked for this game than Uncharted. I'm afraid it'll get totally overshadowed though :(

Posted by clush

It's Teddy! Keep expecting to hear the word Sensei...
Posted by Media_Master

Looks like a great sequel in-the-making!!

Posted by NathHaw

Yeah, I didn't even notice it was Teddie until the very end when he said, "That was amazing, sir!"  I heard in my head "That was amazing, Sensei," and thought for a second I was hallucinating.  Right then I decided to see anyone else thought it was Teddie.  I was pretty convinced.

Posted by artofwar420

Thanks Jeff, now I'm more excited for this game to come out.

Posted by khatru420

goddamn, ps3 is getting so many great games, i honestly haven't turned on my 360 in forever...and won't be anytime soon with games like UC2, R&C, GOW3

Posted by skidd

Ill totally be getting this...but seriously, this and Uncharted in the same month (though i expect this to be pushed to Nov) is gonna destroy my wallet
Posted by Bucketdeth

I'll be asking my girlfriend for this, for christmas : D

Posted by TheHBK

That looks pretty interesting as a game mechanic but to call it time travel is pretty gay.  Plus I can't believe this is the best title Insomniac could come up with.  Always is the TITLE: something in Time.  Seriously.  They need to talk about this on the bombcast, why some developers really dont try with the title.  A crack in time, would just remind me of this piece of crap. 
  

  Yeah, Ratchet and Clank are in love and doing time stuff.  Great title insomniac.  What will the next time travel game be?  A wrinkle in time?  No a book took that.  How about a stain in time?  Or A hole in time?  A rip in time?  A knot in time?  Yeah, nice work.
Posted by nail1080
@khatru420 said:
" goddamn, ps3 is getting so many great games, i honestly haven't turned on my 360 in forever...and won't be anytime soon with games like UC2, R&C, GOW3 "
ok no need to troll dude, PS3 has some great games, but the 360 has more
Edited by get2sammyb
@SJSchmidt93 said:

" Stupid Sony,  Move this to November goddammit, Uncharted 2 is October. "

To be fair, it is very late October.
 
Really stoked about the game.
 
@TheHBK: The original name was Ratchet & Clank: Clock Blockers -- but they had to change it.
Posted by Lustreplush

Actually, it's not the voice actor for Teddie (Dave Wittenberg) it's the voice actor for Waldoor Sockbat from "Drawn Together" (James Arnold Taylor)
 
(from IMDB)

Posted by khatru420
@nail1080:  your free to feel what you want, but for me it comes down to numbers, and math says i like ps3 more, period.  I have a launch 360 and im glad i own one, but id never ever ever say the 360 universally is better, not even maybe.  What exclusives are there on 360 this year? i shouldn't really care though, im enjoying both systems, but the ps3 defintley more, no doubt.
Posted by nail1080
@khatru420: Just commenting on your lame troll comment...
Posted by khatru420
@nail1080: xbox live is the only reason i ever turn on my 360....hahahaha
Posted by Dexter345

Sounds pretty rad.  I need more time and money so I can play this game.

Posted by Bevinsky
@Lustreplush: That would be Ratchet's actor as well, then.
Posted by Lustreplush
@Bevinsky: Indeed.
Posted by cooger10

i wish they would bring back rachet and clank online. Rachet and Clank up your arsenal had some really awsome multiplayer but not alot of people played the ps2 online