Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction

Ratchet and Clank Future is one of the most addictive and purely fun games of this generation and shouldn't be missed

By Setho10, Posted 14 Apr 2010

Insomniac, long the premier Sony second party studio, has been making addictive and polished action platformers since Spyro on the PlayStation 1. Their releases have consistently pushed the boundaries of Sony's various machines, but have also always stood in the shadow of more revolutionary entries in the genre. With the release of Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction, Insomniac has again pushed a Sony console to it's limits with lifelike animations, detailed texturing, and massive, interactive environments, but while the game is fast, addictive, and just plain fun, it fails to reach the highest realms of the gaming landscape due to its inherently derivative nature. Don't let its low ambitions dissuade you, though, Ratchet is one of the most enjoyable, polished, and technically proficient games of this generation, and deserves to be experienced. Just don't expect to be blown away by a paradigm shifting breakthrough in game design, as you wont find it here.

Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction Review

The Ratchet and Clank series chronicles the adventures of the Lombax, (think a humanoid cat and you'll be close) Ratchet and his robotic companion, Clank. Surrounding this mismatched duo are a virtual smorgasbord of loony supporting characters, probably the most famous of which is Captain Qwark. In Future, Ratchet is given a new romantic interest, as well as a new nemesis in the form of Emperor Percival Tachyon. As the rather cliché story goes, Percival is the last remaining Cragmite, a violent species that were destroyed by the Lombaxes many years ago. Tachyon is determined to wipe out the last of the Lombaxes, Ratchet and eventually take over the universe. Like all elements of Future, the story on display here is a well told variation of something that is all too familiar. Clank is being accosted by a series of small alien lifeforms called Zoni which no one else can see, Qwark is the exact opposite of what his impressive figure would have you believe, and the edgy female lead goes through the motions. In essence Ratchet doesn't tell a story that hasn't been told a million times already, but it tells it in a likable, humorous way that makes the well produced cut scenes enjoyable to watch and endears it's characters to the player.

While the plot may drive some players to see Ratchet through to the end, many more will be driven by the deep and customizable upgrade system. Ratchet is an action game in which players shoot and jump their way through a series of mostly linear levels, killing Tachyon's army of power-armor enhanced slug warriors. The shooting and jumping behaves like most any action game out there, but the way the player can upgrade his character and items makes playing Ratchet akin to doing crack, just with less nostril degradation. While Ratchet will start out with only a couple of weak weapons, he will get many new weapons, devices, and gadgets at a steady pace. While some of these items are far more valuable than others, they all serve a purpose.

And how these weapons improve! First off, weapons, and Ratchet himself, will level up as the game progresses. Ratchet gains more health from each level up, while weapons do more damage. What's great is that the leveling occurs so quickly that the player is always getting some reward for just playing the game. The best part is that even if the player dies they still keep the levels that they and their weapons earned in their failed attempt. This really goes a long way towards removing the sense of failure and frustration that comes in so many games after repeating the same segment over and over. Here, no matter how well you do you always feel like you are getting somewhere.

Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction Review

In addition to the leveling up, weapons can be upgraded with Raritanium. This element is one of two forms of currency in the game, the other, nuts and bolts, allowing you to buy weapons, armor, and devices. With Raritanium you can add abilities to your weapons similar to leveling up a character in an a role-playing game. You can increase the nuts and bolts or Raritanium you get from killing an enemy with the weapon, increase the splash radius, firing speeds, and damage dealt, and even acquire more exotic upgrades that, for example, allow you to lock on each enemy twice with the rocket launcher, or shoot three missiles instead of one per bullet with the missile launcher. Once your weapon reaches level five it gets yet another ability, new graphics and a new name. Finally, if you play through the game a second time you can get omega versions of each weapon that add even more damage and abilities to each firearm. In this way your arsenal is always changing, and even weapons you get early in the game can gain great levels of power if upgraded fully. The constantly changing weapons, as well as the steady stream of new gadgets and devices, means that Ratchet never gets old, even though the player is essentially doing the same thing from beginning to end.

Also adding variation are the hit and miss mini-games. Among the good is the hacking mini game which is equally as enjoyable as the one in Bioshock, if not more so, and the Clank mini-levels that task the player with controlling Clank in areas that Ratchet can't travel. But other segments crash and burn. Both flying your ship and flying using Clank's wings are clunky and hard to control. Flying using the motion controls with Clank is especially difficult, as are similar sky diving sequences. But these poorly designed segments are easily overshadowed by the hacking mini-game and the most enjoyable mini-game- the grind rails. Here you essentially skate along rails dodging obstacles and leaping over gaps. These sequences benefit from an awesome presentation with buildings collapsing in the background and dozens of enemies hovering around you. As you zip along the rails, missiles shattering the areas in front of you, and lasers blasting from the back, you get a great adrenaline rush. Tony Hawk can only dream of something this intense.

It isn't just the grindrail segments that look amazing, the entire presentation of Ratchet is just incredible. The textures and lighting make the game look almost as good as a Pixar movie, while the huge environments are awe inspiring and filled with tons of detail. Each level also looks entirely different. You really get the feeling that these are different worlds, not just different parts of the same world. Whether you are in a buzzing, futuristic, colorful city, or a primordial swamp, Ratchet's graphics always impress. Tiny details really add to experience. If the player steps on a slug after his power armor is destroyed they don't just walk over it, the slug actually smushes under them. Indigenous life can always be seen flying or eating in the background. Even the load times are hidden by a colorful flying cut scene. The graphics aren't perfect though. A couple instances of slow-down were noticeable, and the physics didn't always work properly, with boxes failing to fall after those under them had been destroyed. Honestly, though, the only reason this slight physics issue was even noteworthy is because the rest of the game looks so amazingly lifelike that the small things seem more obvious.

Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction Review

The animation is also impressive, with Insomniac truly getting some of the best results out of their characters' expressions ever. The voice actors add to this. Ratchet and his pals have always benefited from witty writing performed by top notch actors and this game is no exception. Ratchet and Clank often fire off playful insults at each other, and Qwark is a bipolar mess, going from haughty superiority to despairing dismay multiple times per sentence. The weapons are suitably powerful sounding, and the hum of ships flying in the distance, or birds squawking in a blinding sunset really help sell the entire audio package. The music is probably the weakest aspect of the presentation. It gets the job done but lacks any memorable compositions. Overall this is one of the best looking and sounding games ever made, and the presentation goes a long way towards making this world feel real and alive.

Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction is one of the best games on the PlayStation 3. The core shooting and platforming controls have been honed to a fine sheen over the course of a half dozen games, and the mini games hit far more often than they miss. The upgrade system is addictive and customizable, and constantly rewards you just for playing, fail or succeed. The story is incredibly well told with a humorous script, great performances, and expressive character models, and the in game graphics are simply some of the best in the business. Really the main complaint that could be leveled against this game is that it really doesn't do anything new or revolutionary. It is one of the most polished action games ever made but its ambitions are somewhat limited. While that lack of vision keeps the game from entering the most upper echelons of game design, anyone looking for a fun and addictive action game would be hard to pressed to find one better than Ratchet and Clank Future.

Seth Golovin, Noobfeed

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General Information

Platform(s): PS3
Publisher(s): Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer(s): Insomniac Games
Genres: Platformer
Themes: Platformer
Release Date: 2007-10-23

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