Ratchet Future is a jack of all trades and a master of most.
Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction REVIEW
By your friendly neighborhood Stapler Hernandez (or Dave)
The new gen has now entirely encompassed the lives of every lustful video game enthusiast (the politically correct term, since "nerd" is considered stigmatization..damn liberals). Now that all three consoles are nigh, what I learned about what is truly integral in this generation of gaming is consistency. With the onset of next generation consoles with pure processing muscle, more and more resources are needed to keep up. Things have changed indelibly. The days of risky ventures in video games are over, and now comes the time of consistency. It's a dog eat dog world, a principle of Social Darwinism. If you can't put up, then get out.
So how in the world does this relate to Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction? In an industry where stability is key, none are more apt examples than Insomniac Studios. They've proven to be an annual triple-A game pumping machine, pioneers of Playstation 3's intricate hardware. Resistance: Fall of Man, Ratchet Tools of Destruction, and the upcoming top-notch games from Insomniac releasing this year, Ratchet Quest for Booty and Resistance 2, are all testaments for a truly, truly special studio. Is it Voodoo magic? Do they make daily offerings to Ken Kutaragi, great father of the Playstation? Whatever it is, it's working.
Wait just a tick there, Inspector Clouseau! This is a game review, and by golly, I'll give the people a review of a game!
Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction was a Fall 2007 release from the exalted studio (about two paragraphs allocated to it, above) Insomniac Games. Deemed to be a reboot of sorts for the franchise, the game goes back to its roots: a maniacal, though not impressive in figure, dictator that is poised to bring ruin to the galactic empirical legions of furry and metal...things by reintroducing a thought to be extinct race of dull though motivated super soldiers. The parallels between Hitler's fascist regime and this game's somewhat coherent plotline is a tad foreboding and grim, but luckily this world has a frollicking agile mutant cat walking upright on two legs with opposable thumbs for excessive pew pew pewing!
The novel idea behind this game franchise, originally, was to have a somewhat linear platforming game with uncharacteristically tight controls and good level design to accomodate the limited level scope in conjunction with a relatively shallow though surprisingly addictive combat portion with weapons that could only come from the collected efforts of the brilliant minds of a lunatic asylum. Though the series got a bit convuluted and essentially became a third person shooter clusterluck in Ratchet: Deadlock, the Future trilogy, exclusively available on PS3, goes back to the originals idea of a more or less even split between the two radically different gameplay styles.
This is all good and well. The formula is brilliant in both concept and execution. As always, the controls are absolutely top-notch. The weapons are even wackier and more preposterous in this installment. You have Ratchet-fied versions of shotguns and lancers, and then you have heat-seeking missle launchers with 900 ammo and a gun that traps your enemies in a magnetic field, rendering their efforts futile in avoiding a slow and excruciatingly painful demise. You buy new weapons using bolts, which is the game's abundant currency. The game institutes an adequate weapon-upgrade system. You gain experience for your weapons depending on the kills you get whilst using that particular weapon. In addition, you can mod your weapon by collection raritanium, another game currency that is rarer and more difficult to collect, to purchase upgrades for your weapons.The cherry on top of this beautiful, beautiful weapons system is the addition of gadgets, which assist you in battle. Some of these are absolutely uproarious, like the Groovitron, which impetizes your enemies to spontaneously explode into a synchronized disco routine.
The platforming portions are equally as impressive. Insomniac truly upped the ante in regards to level design. It is absolutely brilliant, and considering the swift controls, it's a joy to play. Those who have played Mario Galaxy for Nintendo's Wii console may find themselves right at home with some of the gravity-based platforming sections. When Ratchet needs a breather, Clank takes over in segments, and his sections are centered purely around platforming. They're not quite as good as Ratchet's segments, but the varying skill set Clank has at his disposable (won't ruin it for you ;]) keeps the interest up. In addition to all of this, the developers tackled the seemingly impossible by implementing good Sixaxis tilt controls into the game. I must say, the gyro implementation is absolutely mind-bogglingly refined, considering how disadvantaged developers are with working for it. The puzzle, gliding, and rock-shattering minigames incorporating the tilt functions are incredibly fun for what they are, and contrary to hindering those segments, as the Sixaxis tilt function tends to do for weaker games, it actually enhances it.
I could really go on and on and on about the other varieties of gameplay here, like the Starfox-inspired starfighter segments, but I don't want to spoil the surprises in store for you. However, one thing that can't be ignored when examining Ratchet Future are the magnificent visuals. Insomniac coders are absolute fiends when looking at what they've accomplished with this game. The texturing and model work remains essentially unmatched, and they actually utilize a full color palette, which next gen developers seem to be incapable of accomplishing. The framerate is solid, and the particle effections and explosions and various nuances for the weapons just exhibit the developers' strict attention to detail.
So, my patient readers may implore of my, why the .5 star reduction? When playing this game, despite the great gameplay and patently high production values, you'll notice that the charm and magic from the original series is noticeably missing. I can't exactly pinpoint what it is: the story is far less engaging for one thing, and the dialog, though voiced flawlessly as is typical of Ratchet games, has really lost a significant portion of its wit in its transition to the next gen.
Is this a game breaking fault? By no means. This game is action-packed, varied, and visually stunning, with a dizzying amount of unlockables and replay value, and has a little bit of something for everyone. Ratchet may be slightly less satirical in its next gen offering; however, this shortcoming made up for a refined and perfected gameplay experience.