In an era where games are increasingly complex, sometimes it's important get back to your roots. For the Wii and the PlayStation 3, just closing out their first year of launch life, this holiday season is a time to set down standards and 'classic' titles for the system. This week sees the release of Mario Galaxy for the Wii, and a few weeks back Sony's own platforming mascot made his next-gen debut in Ratchet and Clank: Tools of Destruction. For better or worse, the PS3 launched without a Ratchet and Clank title last year. It was well worth the wait. Ratchet and Clank: Tools of Destruction is pure, uncomplicated fun. It's easily the best game I've played yet on the PlayStation 3 and is essentially a new classic for anyone with Sony's next-gen console. Read on for my impressions of a back-to-basics title that looks better than every other platformer you've ever played.
- Title:Ratchet and Clank: Tools of Destruction
- Developer/Publisher: Insomniac/SCEA
- System: PS3
- Genre: Futuristic Action Platformer
- Score: 4/5: This game is above average, and excels in the genre it supports. A classic for the console, likely to be a part of every PS3 owner's collection, and well worth a look for every gamer.
As with most platformers, of course, the plot is really just an excuse to get you from point A to B. As Ratchet you'll be destroying enemies across a variety of planets and settings in a well-realized 3D world. There are a number of jumping/platforming elements, but you're equipped with a number of tools that make the gameplay easily approachable. There are also a few simple puzzles to tackle, but none of them will take more than a few moments to solve. These run and jump sections are also broken up by 'rail grinding' segments that have you following a fixed course, moving from track to track to avoid obstacles. There are also a few vehicle segments, including repeated space-shooter sequences. Both of these elements are well-integrated into the flow of gameplay, and feel completely at home in Ratchet's futuristic world. The shooting elements didn't do much for me fun-wise, but they didn't detract from the experience either.
Combat, pure and simple, is where you'll be having most of your fun. As you're jumping and dodging from place to place you'll be fighting a number of different enemy types. The colorful, creative enemies you'll be facing are only matched in number by the true hallmark of Ratchet games: the weapons. Though you start with just grenades, a pea-shooter laser weapon, and your trusty wrench, there are a galaxy of different destructive devices to find, purchase, and upgrade throughout the game. This never gets old. You're constantly tweaking weapons with the resource rareitanium to improve their powers, or deliberately using certain weapons to level them up through experience. That dinky pea-shooter becomes an impressive hand-cannon, and it's joined by laser whips, rocket launchers, tornado machines, spike guns, gel-tossers, saw-flingers, and a vicious nano-swarm machine that takes your enemies apart atom by atom. Each of these can be modified in the same way as the pea-shooter, with special 'ultimate' modifications if you completely upgrade them. Leveling them up is as simple as using them in combat, and also leads to a transformation after you get in enough 'dings'. These destructive toys are joined by a series of ingenious devices that assist you in more supportive roles. There's a leech bomb that restores your life, a grappling hook, stunning gas, and a grenade that turns your opponents into penguins. There's also the groovitron, famously demonstrated in the trailers for this game, that forces your enemies to dance for your amusement. At least, till you cut them down where they stand. It sounds gimmicky hearing about it, and you may feel like you're burdened with an overabundance of choice, but this system really pays off. Like all of the side-elements to the game, upgrading and leveling your weapons is completely optional. If you don't want to bother, just pick the one or two that you like the best and exclusively use those. The game will let you know if you're using a weapon ineffectively, and switching items is as quick as hitting a button.
It plays great, and there's a story worth listening to, but over the course of the hours required to complete the game you're going to want to look at something pretty, right? In this, Ratchet is a pure win. Heavenly Sword may be more detailed, and Gears of War may be grittier, but Ratchet and Clank has a pristine cartoon beauty that is unmatched by any other title currently available. The PS3's processing power results in sweeping animated vistas and incredible cartoon villains. Explosions, special effects, and weapon damage all cause suitable on-screen mayhem ... and that's not even counting the occasional dancing robot. The best sections to demonstrate the game's graphical prowess are the rail grinders, where you can really take the time to look around and appreciate the beautiful scenery. Graphics aren't everything, of course, but in an action-focused title that focuses so much on transitory fun it's amazing to see the level of detail Insomniac has brought to this game.
In fact, the whole game will seem to pass by quickly, but that's not a bad thing. Ratchet and Clank: Tools of Destruction is an amazingly entertaining experience. It has plenty of elements to keep you occupied while you're busting heads along the way, and once you're done with the game there's a great deal of replay value to keep you coming back. This title is the ultimate expression of the Ratchet franchise, and the folks at Insomniac should feel pretty darn proud of themselves for what they've brought to PlayStation 3 owners: uncomplicated fun. Uncomplicated by tiresome stories, muddy grey-green textures, unlikeable characters, or burdensome sixaxis controls, Ratchet and Clank is easily the most fun game I've played yet on my PS3.