Best in the series
Insomniac Games came on the scene in 1996 with a first-person shooter called Disruptor for the original Playstation. The story played out in corny videos starring live actors, but the game itself played smoothly and looked great for a PS1 game. Excellent visuals continued to be a hallmark of Insomniac throughout the Playstation era with their much more widely known series starring Spyro, the flying purple dragon.
In 2002 Insomniac introduced a new pair of mascots for the Playstation 2 with a game called Ratchet & Clank. Ratchet is the last of a race called the Lombaxes, fictional creatures resembling cats with very long ears and an innate understanding of all things mechanical. Clank is a diminutive robot with large, expressive green eyes and a quiet sense of humor. The first game established the core experience of all Ratchet & Clank games: action platforming with a focus on gadgets, gadgets, and more gadgets. Scuba gear, magnetic boots, grappling hook, and even a gun that turns enemies into sheep. James Bond himself would weep with envy at Ratchet’s arsenal of toys.
The formula was so successful the series spawned four sequels on the Playstation 2 and another two on the Playstation Portable. October 2009 saw the latest entry in the series with the cumbersomely titled Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time. This game finishes the three-part story Insomniac began with 2007’s Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction. As the first Ratchet & Clank game on the Playstation 3, Tools had a lot to live up to. Fortunately, Tools meets and exceeds fans’ lofty expectations. From the very first menu screen Tools looks fantastic, but the true miracle is that it plays even better. Ratchet & Clank games have always been known for precise controls that rival those in the Super Mario Brothers series, and Tools offers the tightest controls of the series.
The improvements don’t stop with the visuals and controls either. The story is more mature and emotional while keeping the same wit as its PS2 brethren. Ratchet finds himself being hunted by Emperor Tachyon, who like Ratchet is the last of his race, and Ratchet doesn’t find out until the end of the game why Tachyon hates him so badly. While Ratchet deals with issues of survival and identity, Clank discovers secrets about his own past as well. Without spoiling anything, the two friends’ quests lead them in separate directions by the end of the game.So Tools gives us better graphics, controls, and story. What else could we ask for? Gadgets, of course! To name just a few, Tools boasts guns that fire green jello, electrified nets, slime monsters that hide underground to ambush enemies, and the now famous disco ball that makes all enemies on the screen dance together. All of the gadgets are upgradable with bolts—the currency in all Ratchet & Clank games—and more scarce crystal shards. So detailed and plentiful are the upgrades that it is literally impossible to buy them all if you only play the game once. Good thing, then, that the game is such a blast. It was my first Playstation 3 game, and it's still one of my very favorite.