Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction

Developer: Insomniac Games
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Release Date: Oct. 23, 2007
Systems: PS3
ESRB Rating: E10+
Official Web Site

In a nutshell: Fun run and gun 'gain.

0:01 This minute spent upgrading my system software from version 1.93 to 1.94 to play the freakin' game.

0:02 This minute as well.

System restarting... oh man, I'm almost ready to play! Glee!

0:04 The game title flies in over a starry field. Whoa. My hard drive is too full? Really? That was fast. Time to delete some old demos. I'll stop the timer here, since this isn't the game's fault.

0:05 Now that I have the hard drive space, the game will take "95 to 100 seconds" to install stuff. Remember when you could just pop a game in and play it immediately? Those were the days, eh?

0:06 And away we go. On the initial menu screen, Ratchet's working on a hoverbike with Clank assisting. An FMV cut scene has them struggling to get the bike up and working. Everything looks very glossy and smooth, especially compared to the PS2 games. Captain Quark phones in and asks for help whimperingly. R&C go to help but the hoverbike falls towards the ground as soon as they take off. They crash after some flashy aerobatics. Ratcher: "Well, looks like we're going on foot."

0:09 And we're playing. "If you're looking to take on a murderous robot armada, the help desk will be happy to assist." Heh. Same smooth controls, nice double jump and easy wrench attack as the old games, but now with a few more polygons to the proceedings.

0:11 When you destroy a robot, the fish-like thing living in its head flops around on the ground looking bug-eyed and weird. Creepy.

0:14 Shooting things is as easy as ever with the game's helpful auto-aim. The meteor pad seems like a gratuitous way to get to a new location -- you jump on it and fly uncontrollably through the air to a new section. Still, fun to watch.

0:16 Some nice old school side-scrolling and jumping here as Ratchet slides on a mag-rail. Simple but effective, with no annoying loading transitions either. In fact, I have yet to see noticeable loading. Nice.

0:18 I'm loving the controls for targeted aiming. Hold down L1 and you can move with the left stick and look with the right, first-person style. It's easy to aim even with no middle-of-the-screen reticule ... it's not so much about precision, but smoothness.

0:19 Well that was annoying. I walk forward onto what looks like a solid bridge, but it turns out there was a gap hidden by the ground in front of me. Stupid camera. At least death doesn't matter too much -- I restart at exactly the same place.

0:21 Man, they must really want to kill me... buildings are collapsing all over the place. No one seems to react to all this collateral damage.

0:23 These fusion grenades are so freakin' sweet. One shot and I blow up all the enemies in the vicinity easily. And they just got upgraded to level two through use. Wheeheehee.

0:24 The collapsing bridge I've been running across finally gives way and now I'm falling through air traffic Fifth Element style. Using the Sixaxis to tilt through the air feels a little loose, but I'm falling slowly enough that it doesn't matter much.

0:25 I use Clank's helicopter to land safely. Why didn't I just do that earlier, huh?

0:27 Big action sequence here. I'm grinding on some train tracks, dodging trains and lasers and jumping over missile-created pits. The gameplay is pretty simple -- just jump and dodge -- but the presentation and pacing is spot on. Very exciting.

0:28 Emperor Percival Tachyon comes out to view the last Lombax in the universe (Ratchet). "Your names Percival? Hehe," Ratchet laughs, as do I. The emperor screams about how he's actually an EMPEROR! Ratchet flings Clank into the mothership and escapes that way himself. Awesome.

0:30 The cryosleep puts Ratchet to sleep, while Clank quips, "It is fortunate that cryosleep does not work on robots." Then BAM! Extendo-glove to the face. I laughed.

0:31 Clank dreams of floating through a weird city "His past is inside," says a passing flying robot. What, no electric sheep?

0:32 My maximum health has already increased from 10 to 12. At this pace I'm expecting the difficulty to ramp up quite quickly.

0:34 The designers have a real knack for character design. The bug-like creatures that populate this planet are a joy to watch wriggling around, especially when their eyes bug out upon being hit or spotting Ratchet. Reminds me of Earthworm Jim, but in 3D.

0:36 Odd... there's no computer voice telling me to wall jump up the conveniently placed walls. Luckily I'm a genius and figure it out myself.

0:39 A big monster that I saw float by earlier suddenly reappears. No hidden weak point or anything... just keep firing and dodging his charges till he's dead. I get a "Leviathan soul" and some weapon-upgrading Raritanium for my trouble.

0:42 The world-building on display here is awe-inspiring. As the camera pans over the spaceport you could swear it was a real bustling futuristic metropolis.

0:44 Robotic voice goes on about [Emperor] Tachyon Appreciation Day. Cute, but it feels like they're trying too hard for the comic relief.

0:45 A parrot wants to kill us and sell our kidneys. That is all.

0:46 Actually that's not all. His smuggler owner will give us a ride out if we start the Gelatinium pipes flowing again. Hooray for missions!

0:48 I really like the Groovitron -- a floating disco ball/weapon that makes all nearby enemies dance. I like it way more than I should, in fact.

0:49 Neat. The Gelatinator the smuggler gave me shoots green cubes of bounciness. Could lead to some interesting puzzles, I hope.

0:53 I still can't get enough of those bug eyed aliens. Killing them over and over is a little repetitive, but they're so much fun to watch and the controls are such a joy that I'll get over it.

0:55 Well that was fast.. I'm already done with the Gelatanium plant. Nothing really interesting done with the Gelatinator yet... maybe later? "Emperor Tachyon will be most displeased." Then why doesn't he do something about it, computer voice.

0:58 Flying off to another city, and it's cut scene time. The smuggler tells me that the Lombaxes destroyed every member of the emperor's race except for him. No wonder he's got it in for me. The smuggler drops us off to evade capture, the jerk. More SixAxis dodging, this time with missiles. Takes some getting used to, but I'm actually getting the hang of it.

1:00 Loving my new predator launcher. Lock on and KILL!

Would I play this game for more than an hour? Yes.
Why? While it doesn't really add anything new to the series, it doesn't lose the great design that has made it infinitely playable.

This review based on a retail copy provided by Sony.


Jaxon said...

I downloaded the demo of of PSN and I really enjoyed it. My main issue was with the limited platforming, especially how the you couldn't control your actions when launching off the meteor pad.

Anonymous said...

The message that says you are out of space is a glitch, and is in fact the game's fault. http://www.joystiq.com/2007/10/23/ratchet-and-clank-future-glitch-may-halt-play/
Also, I downloaded the demo and the game looks and plays excellent, so I plan on picking it up soon.