by Chris Scott
previewed on PS3
I like Pirates. Really, who doesn’t? I also happen to like the colour orange. Do you know who is orange, fights robot pirates and generally causes all sorts of mayhem? Ratchet, that’s who. Last year, Insomniac Games brought Ratchet and his robotic buddy, Clank, to the future of gaming with the release of their first adventure on the Playstation 3. With Insomniac working hard to finish up Resistance 2 for a November release, no one thought we would get any news on a new Ratchet game until 2009, at the earliest. Well Insomniac, considered by many to be the best (and certainly the quickest) developer on the Playstation 3, shocked us all with the E3 announcement that Ratchet & Clank Future: Quest for Booty would be coming to the Playstation Network in August.
What is it? A sequel? An add-on?
Quest for Booty is not your standard Ratchet & Clank game. A lot of terms have been thrown around to try and explain the Quest for Booty: expansion, add-on, episodic, etc. According to Insomniac none these terms is entirely accurate. For one the game is not an add-on or an expansion in the typical sense. Yes, the game does continues the story of Tools of Destruction but it is also completely stand-alone, so you will not have to have the original in order to play Quest for Booty (like some initial reports have stated). It is also not episodic in the typical sense. Quest for Booty is certainly an episode in the adventures of Ratchet & Clank but at this point no additional episodes have been announced. Instead, Insomniac is looking at Quest for Booty as something new. The best way to describe it is a smaller game at a cheaper price with the same high quality production values and excellent gameplay you have come to expect from the Ratchet & Clank series.
Old enemies and missing friends
Being as this is a continuation of Tools of Destruction, Quest for Booty’s story will pick up a short time after the end of that game. If you have played that game you will recognize a good number of the characters, although newcomers to the series will also be brought up to speed. Obviously you can expect the return of Ratchet and his friends (although Clank will be missing in action due to the ending of Tools of Destruction) and the pirates from Tools of Destruction, namely Captain Slag and his crew, will be making a return. Quest for Booty will also introduce some new characters to the mix, including a brand new pirate captain, Angstrom Darkwater, and his crew. In a classic Ratchet and Clank form, you can probably expect Darkwater to have some sort of zany twist that will make him completely unique and utterly hysterical.
In order to compensate for the lack of Clank, Ratchet’s wrench will be getting some upgrades, the most notable of which is the new Wrench Tether ability. The Wrench Tether will allow players to move platforms, open doors, and flip switches from a distance. It may seem like the classic weapon based combat that the series is known for will be missing but don’t worry - it will be there in abundance complete with an all new weapon to use.
Landlocked on Merdegraw
Unlike past Ratchet & Clank games, where you would travel to a variety of different planets, Quest for Booty will keep you landlocked on a single planet. The new planet, Merdegraw, is a haven for space pirates which obviously ties into the theme of the game. All the locations in the game have been made from the ground up using a modified Tools of Destruction engine. Dynamic lighting and dynamic shadows are going to play a big part in the game and not just from a visual standpoint. Insomniac has integrated light-based gameplay into Quest for Booty, which will introduce a whole new gameplay mechanic to the series. In fact, Quest for Booty’s gameplay will be inherently different from the last few Ratchet games as it will focus more on puzzle solving and platforming and the absence of Clank will eliminate Ratchet’s ability to jump farther and glide.
Will there be more?
Ratchet & Clank Future: Quest for Booty is an experiment for both Insomniac and Sony. If it succeeds we can be sure that we will see more of Ratchet & Clank in these smaller games but it could also encourage Sony to make smaller, more bite-sized gaming experiences for their other big name franchises. Ratchet & Clank Future: Quest for Booty will début on 21 August 2008 on the Playstation Network and at retailers (EU and Japan only).