Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time
To like guns is one thing, but to enjoy using said guns to encase your enemies in blocks of ice, shoot saw-blades, or to turn your foes into dancing lunatics is an acquired taste. If any of these possibilities seem even remotely interesting to you, then Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time may very well be the game for you. If such an absurd arsenal seems familiar to you, then you’ve probably embarked on one of Ratchet and Clank’s adventures in the past, and if you haven’t, you needn’t be alarmed. Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time boasts an outrageously humorous re-cap of prior games, and is easily the best title within the Ratchet & Clank Future library. Good things tend to come in threes, and as Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time is the third and final game in the series, it also packs a highly enjoyable arsenal (as is to be expected of Ratchet and Clank), stunning visuals, a fairly strong plot (albeit a tad predictable) and more laughs to be had than you can shake a stick at. Needless to say that if the mind-bogglingly eccentric arsenal and the solid platforming don’t get you, the humor certainly will.
If Insomniac has honed two skills, it’s the art of creating a stunning platforming game, and the science of creating a balance between hilarious and badass. Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time is the paragon of both of these traits, but that isn’t to say that the other aspects of the game should be overlooked, and I’ve always been one to save the best for last. As the story from the previous title is recapped, we begin our story with Ratchet and Clank separated from each other. As Clank, you will explore the major motif of Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time, the Great Clock – a station built in the exact centre of the universe (give or take a few feet) to monitor and control the flow of time. Clank has been charged with maintaining the Great Clock in his father’s absence, and as Doctor Nefarious (Ratchet’s long-standing robotic rival) tries to take control of the clock, Ratchet must join forces with the only other living lombax in order to stop him. The storyline itself is fairly average fare, with a few entirely predictable twists and some hugely entertaining ones as well. Donning a disguise as Doctor Nefarious and roaming his fortress ordering the destruction of your own minions is just one of the many brilliant and humorous turns that Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time will take you as you make your way to the centre of the universe. Traveling from planet to planet as you search for a way to access the Great Clock will pit Ratchet against changing climates and strange enemies, all of which pridefully deviate from the norm and keep the trip fresh and interesting.
But what is intergalactic travel without a good Groovitron Glove to force your bloodthirsty enemies into a hypnosis-induced dance? This is just one of the many weapons Ratchet will have at his disposal throughout his adventure, and everything from an alien-hating robotic bodyguard to a six-axis steered magnetic vortex are all fair game. My personal favorite is the Rift Inducer 5000: a modest pistol that opens a rift in space where an enormous tentacle monster called Fred resides, and will grab and consume all enemies who stray too close. Needless to say that Insomniac has packed so many unreal weapons and gadgets into Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time, that you will rarely find yourself dreaming of a tool you could’ve used instead. Picking favorites and using them in combat will level up your weapons, increasing their damage, range, ammo capacity, and a handful of other nifty features. When your weapon reaches the fifth level it will be considered complete and will boast a large increase to all of its stats, and an aesthetic change to compliment. For those who prefer beauty over firepower, then tinkers rejoice! A handful of Ratchet’s weapons are customizable with modifications and color schemes that can be collected on various planets. In the end, if Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time boasts nothing else, it very successfully takes its arsenal to new extremes, and good luck finding a weapon here that you don’t experience a thrill of satisfaction using.
Space travel has received an interesting makeover as well. No longer is planet-to-planet travel instantaneous. Instead, Ratchet’s customizable ship is now pitted against swarms of enemy fighters, and there are even a couple of boss fights staged in this way. Though the space combat is very light and far from difficult, it does make traveling between planets more interesting than it once was. Star Fox fans will know what to expect.
While Ratchet runs around the universe sewing chaos and firing missiles that explode into more missiles, Clank will be taking a more subtle approach to his situation. Wandering throughout the Great Clock is actually an interesting endeavor. Clank has been charged with the task of keeping all of the planets throughout the galaxy free of time anomalies. Reaching different stations within the clock will require you to flew your brain muscle a tad more than your trigger finger, as Clank is confronted with a number of interesting puzzles. In order to successfully advance, Ratchet will need to use his newly acquired tome control skills to make copies of himself, and as the player you will need to guide each copy in the past to their desired destination and then revert to the present to advance. Tips will be available to you as needed, but with a little patience and some trial and error, this part of Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time is easily the most rewarding.
Technically, Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time is appealing to both the eyes and the thumbs. The environments and weapon effects are all colorful and sharp, and the enemies that will be receiving an unfriendly wrench to the abdomen were not skipped in detail. Strafing in combat is easy to master, but the camera does leave things up to some guesswork at times. Rotating the camera to see your enemies while strafing is nearly impossible, and will often leave you hoping that you are shooting in the right direction. A more dedicated lock-on feature would’ve lined Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time in gold, but I guess we can’t have everything.
Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time’s likelihood of appealing to you is nearly as infinite as the universe it takes place in, but a few disappointingly expected plot turns and some finicky camera controls will make the universe seem a tad smaller. If you can blast your way through these minor setbacks, Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time will deliver a fun and humorous platforming game packed with far-fetched weapons, sharp visuals, and more than its fair share of laughs. As the conclusion to its three part series, A Crack in Time represents the peak of what the series is famous for, and is easily recommendable to anyone who has enjoyed Ratchet & Clank games in the past, or simply has an itch to fire something exponentially more exciting than bullets. Either way, this is one game that anyone can find a reason to play.