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.
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.
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.