Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack In Time
Developer: Insomniac Games
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Platform: PlayStation 3
Release Date: October 27th, 2009
Mr. Zurkon says play this game or Mr. Zurkon will make you feel pain.
A Crack in Time continues where the last two games left off. Do not worry though because as you are installing the game it gives you a brief synopsis of the previous storyline from Tools of Destruction told by Captain Quark. Clank has been kidnapped by the Zonies and taken to Dr. Nefarious where he has other plans in mind. Dr. Nefarious wants to control the Great Clock where Clank is being held and control time for his own evil reasons. It is up to Ratchet and Clank to venture separately to re-unite and put an end to Dr. Nefarious plans.
The game is stitched together through some wonderful looking cut-scenes that make you feel like you are playing a Pixar movie. The options for the game are very limited but that is not important as you have what is essential. You can start the game and choose a difficulty as well as create an online profile to share your stats with other friends who have played the game as well. The in game menus consist of traditional weapon configuration and selecting these weapons in a quick select wheel that allows the player to choose a weapon mid-combat and pauses the game during the process although this can be shut off anytime.
Where do I begin on the audio for this game. A Crack in Time features some of the most memorable tracks and voice-overs which is a beautiful thing. I would actually go as far as to say the sound in this game aside from the gameplay is what defines the game. Of course the sci-fi inspired orchestrated tracks really set the tone for what you are doing and make this feel like a real science fiction classic.
The real bread and butter come from the voice actors that lend their talent to the game. All the characters are unique in their own way and create a balance of diversity amongst the cast. You have Ratchet who is calm and collective, Clank who is distinguished and witty and Dr. Nefarious who is just sinister but yet lovable in his own right. We also can never forget Captain Quark who is the comedy goldmine of the games. When he is present you know laughs are going to be had. The voice actors never take the characters too seriously and make the game feel like a real Saturday morning space adventure.
Insomniac did a great job overall in presentation through in game environments as well as cutscenes. Whether it was intentional or not the game feels cel-shaded at times with character models but only at times which is hard to determine if there have been shading problems or this was planned from the get go. What makes Crack in Time stand out is how colorful the game is and much like the audio with the combination of the two it really feels like a science-fiction adventure on the level of Wall-E but in the Ratchet and Clank universe. There are times where the games graphics feel like they could have used more polish for a game that is taking on a more cartoon-like feel but it is not to the point where it hinders the overall experience.
Ratchet and Clank is all about using various guns and gadgets to get from point A to point B. First going into Ratchet's sections you start out with the familiar omni-wrench used to swing at enemies in a melee type attack. You also have the option to throw the wrench in a boomerang like fashion to hit distant enemies or explosive crates that are too dangerous to hit up close. The meat and potatoes of any Ratchet game is of course the weapons. Ratchet is given a full arsenal that can purchased over time by collecting bolts which is the games currency. Bolts can be obtained through enemies or through crates. You use these bolts to purchase weapons and gadgets throughout the game through shops, bolts can also be used to purchase armor upgrades.
Ratchet has the ability to level up himself by defeating enemies and gaining experience. This same leveling up also applies to weapons. When you use a weapon to defeat an enemy that weapon then gets experience. You can level up each weapon up to level 5 and then level 10 through challenge mode which is pretty much a new game plus. This is what can lengthen the game for the player because nothing is more appealing than getting a more powerful weapon. Some of the weapons in the game can be ignored whilst others are downright essential to level up and of course it all depends on your play style. Ratchet also receives gadgets such as grappling hooks, watering can, time bombs and hover boots. The hover boots are a cool new feature that let you blaze through levels and ramps at a much faster speed. Just think of McFly from Back to the Future with his hover board. These boots also let you hover over larger gaps if you find yourself not being able to make the jump.
Now Clank has his own levels in this game since him and Ratchet are separated for the time being. You traverse through several levels using Clank and his glorious 5 HP but it's not to worry you will not have a hard time with enemies in these areas. Clank on his path discovers new abilities he can learn such as the time bomb. This is a new weapon for Clank that allows him to toss a bomb and it slows down time in a certain area. Only one can be thrown at a time so you have to plan wisely when you are going to use it. Ratchet also gets his own staff much like the omni-wrench but this one allows him to deflect projectiles back at enemies and also reverse time to fix The Great Clock.
The core of Clanks levels are the time puzzles. Okay there was some skepticism before playing these parts but in the end they are very rewarding and fun not to mention it changes up the gameplay a whole deal. Okay I won't go into too much detail about these time puzzles but I will try to explain them to the best of my ability. You are given several pads on the floor of various colors. Stand on a blue one and give a path to Clank to do whatever it is be it stand on a button, use a time bomb somewhere etc. You then hit stop and that movement is recorded. Then by standing on another different colored pad you can make a different path in order to solve the room's puzzle.
The core game lasts about 10 hours depending on how obsessed you are with collecting everything. Gold bolts can be collected to unlock alternate costumes and the collection of all Zonies will give you a much desired alternate level without going into detail of course. Much like previous games you have skill points which should not be confused with trophies. Skill points are a set of 1000 points you can unlock throughout the game by completing different tasks. It is in the same style of achievements but has no effect on earning actual trophies. Completing these will unlock cheats and some artwork from Insomniac. You have a decent length game and one double or maybe triple in length depending on how much of a perfectionist you are.
Just to add in the Battle Arena there is a game called "My Blaster Runs Hot". This was discovered by accident but it is a neat little arcade game where you can play as Captain Quark. The gameplay is similar to Robotron except when you use your gun too much it overheats and allows you to use a large beam. You can also collect aliens to gain more points and earn power-ups to help you. It's a very nice addition and a simple score attack game that even let's you play with a second person if the controller is available. Again it's a small addition but very much welcome.
A Crack in Time isnt a long game by any means, that is not to say there isnt plenty to do in this entry because there certainly is. The core game is a pleasant ride and gorgeous ride into space and it will feel that is over before it even begins. The length of the game is perfect but you just have such a good time you want there to be more. If you decide to do challenge mode and level up weapons that is always an option but it isnt a necessity, one play-through will be sufficient but understand that it is an experience for the books. A Crack in Time is one of if not the best platformers that have ever graced the industry. Insomniac congratulations, I consider myself very selective on platforms and you left me wanting more.