Man, I really hope you like pirates and robots, because Ratchet & Clank Future: Quest for Booty is, if nothing else, a vehicle for as much campy robot-pirate humor as a downloadable title can hold. Much like your Ikea bookshelf, you'll find that Quest for Booty looks great for the price, but doesn't really contain the love and craftsmanship of its higher-priced counterparts.
Quest for Booty begins soon after the events of Tools of Destruction, the previous PlayStation 3 installment of the series. Clank has been not-so-forcibly kidnapped by the Zoni, a mysterious race of robot that have some kind of greater plan for our little, metallic friend. This basically sets the scene for Quest for Booty, as Ratchet and his ladyfriend, Talwyn, search for clues regarding Clank's whereabouts and dig a little deeper into this whole Zoni situation. Along the way you'll encounter some old pirate acquaintances, some new pirate masterminds, pirate ghosts, pirate ships, bats, and pirates. Also? Pirates.
While this sounds all well and good, the story in Quest for Booty does little to flesh out the universe. Players that didn't make it through Tools of Destruction will be dropped into a world full of undeveloped characters and a plot that seems to revolve more around setting up campy pirate jokes than continuing the story arc from the previous game. As someone who thoroughly enjoyed Tools of Destruction, I found much of the charm to be missing and the whole experience to be a little hollow.
With subtitles like Up Your Arsenal, Going Commando and Tools of Destruction, the Ratchet series has a pretty well-established reputation for delivering the goods when it comes to weaponry. Quest for Booty eschews the gun collecting and instead, in true abilitease fashion, starts you off with a set number of guns that you subsequently lose and then recover throughout the course of the game. This strips away an essential layer of the gameplay, leaving only the sticky residue of a half-hearted weapon powering-up mechanic. With enough use, each weapon will increase in power, up to a maximum level of five. Considering that each gun already starts on level three, the gun leveling doesn't require much effort. On top of that, you'll be hard-pressed to find a real need to use more than two or three items from your limited arsenal. Finally, as if to make the entire process even less meaningful, you'll keep the weapon's earned experience when you die. This is standard for the series, but the new levels come so quickly that you don't really get a sense of accomplishment when you've finally maxed out your weapons.
Making your way through the levels mostly involves either basic platforming or some confined combat situations. Everything is pretty solid, but I didn't encounter anything that made me feel like I was the prince of the double jump either. I didn't really feel a sense of danger or tension, except for the grind rail portions, which offer the most thrilling sequences in the relatively short experience. You'll also discover that your wrench has now mysteriously been upgraded to include the ability to remotely tether items and manipulate them. Many of the platforming puzzles throughout the game make good use of this new mechanic, and it's something that I hope to see more of in future iterations of the series.
The presentation is amazing for a downloadable title. The graphics, voice acting and animation are all comparable to its big-budget brother. You won't be overwhelmed with the variety in the enemies and environments, but what you do encounter looks great and seems to fit very nicely into the universe. The music is probably the only thing about the package that seems to not measure up, and it can get somewhat repetitive. Imagine taking a road trip with a guy who can only remember the first five bars to the Pirates of the Caribbean theme song. I was also hoping for a few more cutscenes, but considering the abbreviated length of the game, I can't really find fault in their absence.
I guess Quest for Booty just feels like the Aladdin 2 of Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction. It has all the same elements as the original, but it just doesn't deliver the charm and appeal. Of course, it is an intentionally shorter game at a markedly lower price, so it's not unexpected that some compromises would have to be made. In the end, Ratchet and Clank Future: Quest for Booty delivers a quarter of a game at a quarter of the price, and ultimately, you're only getting a quarter of the entertainment.