by Chris Scott
reviewed on PS3
Have a crack at time
Once again it is autumn and, like clockwork, developer Insomniac Games has delivered unto gamers a new game. Arguably the most consistent developer for Sony's Playstation 3, Insomniac has delivered highly anticipated game after highly anticipated game on the system for the past three autumns. This year brings gamers the sixth, full-length, console iteration of Insomniac's popular action platforming series Ratchet & Clank, Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time.
The Ratchet & Clank series is one of the longest running and most successful Sony franchises. Starring the cat-like Ratchet, a member of the nearly extinct Lombax race, and his sarcastic robot friend Clank the series has relied on a generous mix of beautiful graphics, funny stories, excellent voice acting, weapon based combat and traditional platforming to keep it thriving for the last eight years.
A Crack in Time picks up the story that started in Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction (released in 2007) and continued in its shorter, downloadable sibling, Ratchet & Clank Future: Quest for Booty (released in 2008). While the amount of back story may seem too much for those new to the series, the opening cutscene is a lengthy interview with the series buffoon Captain Quark that explains the events of the two previous games in good detail. Basically, Clank is still missing, Ratchet is still hunting for him and the universe still needs saving.
As usual for the series, gamers will be tasked with saving the universe and while the method may seem familiar to longtime series fans, A Crack in Time is anything but a cheap and easy cash in. If there was a complaint to be made against Tools of Destruction it was that it did not do anything new. By being on the PS3 it certainly looked better, but everything else was decidedly by the numbers. Of course, that did not mean it was a bad game. In fact, Tools of Destruction was picked by us here at Hooked Gamers as the best game on the PS3 in 2007. However, another by the book entry into the series was not going to cut it yet again and Insomniac smartly responded by delivering something that is truly magical.
A Crack in Time will answer a lot of questions that series fans have built up over the years, including why Ratchet has always been alone and what happened to Ratchet's race, the Lombax. It is also a more mature story than in previous episodes in the series. Not mature to the point of being heavy handed or anything, but still more mature than a lot of similar-looking titles attempt to be. There are still plenty of laughs, though. In fact, the game probably has more laughs than any game in the series to date, even though it has some mature themes riding under all the comedy.
The visuals in A Crack in Time are arguably the best the system has ever produced and that includes the highly lauded Uncharted 2. To call the graphics in A Crack in Time amazing is selling them short as only movie studio Pixar does computer animation better than what Insomniac has put on display here.
Amazingly the audio front matches the visuals in every way. The voice work is exceptional and the German composer Boris Salchow, whom did the score for Insomniac's Resistance 2, delivers the most film-like score for the series to date. His work adds a greater sense of emotion to the story.
Beautiful visuals, humorous and touching story, excellent voice acting and some of the best gameplay in a platformer.
Some of the gameplay feels like we've been there before.