I love Ratchet and Clank. Full disclosure: These games just make me happy on a level that few games can. That being said A Crack in Time is not the best entry in the series, but it’s still more fun than 90% of the games out there.
A Crack in Time takes place after Quest for Booty, the PSN exclusive released last year. The premise is that Ratchet and Clank are separated and Ratchet is trying to locate his robotic buddy. Clank was kidnapped by the Zoni, who were duped into it by Dr. Nefarious and his butler, Lawrence. Dr. Nefarious, you may remember, was the villain from Up Your Arsenal and he wants Clank so he can get into the Orvus Chamber, which will allow him to travel back through time and alter history. Clank’s origins are revealed in this game and we learn why he is the only one who can get into the Orvus Chamber.
Ratchet and Clank’s story is not really the main draw, but one thing must be said: it’s hilarious. The characters, from Dr. Nefarious to my personal favorite, Captain Qwark, all have moments that made me laugh out loud. The cutscenes are very well done, making the game look like a Pixar movie. In most games, I can barely pay attention during the cutscenes, but during this game, I was looking forward to them.
The gameplay is divided into a few sections. There is Ratchet’s traditional platforming/gunplay, which is always fun, especially for those who love collecting things. The planets you visit, while not as numerous as other installments, are varied and no two ever felt the same. The weapons you use during these areas are not as exciting as those that came before, but there are a few cool ones, like the gun that turns enemies into monkeys. Never got old. For fun, use the Groovetron to turn the monkeys into disco dancing freaks.
Once Ratchet gets his ship, right after the first planet, you will find yourself in an area of space with a few small planetoids that you can fly to and complete objectives in order to aquire Gold Bolts and Zoni, which unlock extra skins and upgrade your ship. These are pretty fun and are good for getting extra bolts to buy new weapons, but I grew tired of them after about 10 or so. They are round spheres that you walk over, which some have compared to Super Mario Galaxy, but was actually done first in an earlier Ratchet game, Going Commando. When Nintendo is cribbing from you, you must be doing something right.
The final section is interspersed throughout the main narrative, which is Clank traveling through The Great Clock using a very inventive puzzle system. Clank’s sections have a little platforming and combat, but are mainly puzzle-based, which is a nice break from the constant explosions of the Ratchet sections. The puzzles involve Clank making copies himself to open doors and hit switches. For example, Clank stands on a time platform, starts recording and then walks to a switch on the floor and stand on it. The switch raises an elevator to a higher level. Next, you stop recording and return to the time platform. You stand on a different platform and record and play the recording you just made. The copy you just made walks over and raises the elevator while you walk over to the elevator and are taken to the top. This is just a simple example, as it gets much more complicated with up to 4 copies of Clank running around doing different things. The feeling of satisfaction I get from completing is something I have only felt while playing Portal, so I highly endorse this section of the game.
A Crack in Time is a step forward in some ways, a step back in others and simple stands still at other times. This series is so much fun though, I hesitate to say that it needs to be overhauled. The franchise has evolved into gaming comfort food. Kind of the way I look at the band Collective Soul. They aren’t going to blow you away, but you are going to get 12 songs that you will be humming for the next month, no doubt about it. I loved this game, but it’s not the next level in platforming goodness.
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