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Ratchet & Clank: A Crack in Time

I've enjoyed a long history with the Ratchet & Clank series, since its earliest incarnation from 2002. The carefully judged balance between blowing things up, platforming, blowing more stuff up, puzzles and a healthy quantity of huge explosions, lasers and bolts has helped create one of the best series available on Sony's consoles. However, the Ratchet & Clank: Future series for the PS3 has left me feeling a tad sceptical. In hindsight, I was a little harsh on Tools of Destruction but Quest for the Booty was underwhelming. With A Crack in Time I was anxious to see if the series could provide some more innovation akin to the original trilogy.

A Crack in Time (ACiT) starts off strongly with an amusing recap of the previous titles, by the series' perpetually useless superhero, Captain Quark. After the return of Ratchet's nemesis, the diabolical Dr. Nefarious, Clank is kidnapped and taken to the Great Clock, a structure which controls time in the universe. Dr. Nefarious is in the process of forming another ridiculously complex scheme for galactic domination and Clank is instrumental in his dastardly machinations. With a strong story throughout the title and some excellent writing, the plot manages to be entertaining, funny and fairly involving.

A Crack in Time Screenshot 1

Technically, ACiT is outstanding across all areas with visuals that never cease to sparkle. The variety of locations and planets that you'll visit is impressive and helps to showcase the huge range of graphical trickery that Insomniac have employed. When you add in the dazzling effects of the game's many weapons, at times the graphics are eye-wateringly bright. The screen often crackles with electrical flashes, bursts of flame and the terrifying coloured lights of a hovering 70's era disco ball (I kid you not). Sitting alongside the impressive visuals is a strong audio design with good voice acting and solid music.

The core gameplay of the title remains resolutely unchanged, but is as refined and satisfying as ever. The majority of your time will be spent playing cute but deadly Lombax, Ratchet as he battles his way across several star systems to try and find his robotic pal. Inevitably this means traversing narrow platforms while reducing Nefarious' mercenaries to nothing more than bolts and smouldering metal. These bolts are the currency in the game world and are used for purchasing ammunition and new weapons. The core staple to any Ratchet & Clank game, the weapons are varied and generally don't disappoint. While some are classic returnees from previous games, or renamed and re-skinned versions, there are plenty of new additions.

A Crack in Time Screenshot 2

There is a good range of death-dealers on offer, ranging from rocket launchers, shotguns and grenade launchers to inter-dimensional monsters, the deadly mating call of an alien fish and a giant serrated circular disc. The weapons all level-up with use, until eventually they are upgraded to a more powerful version. Three of the standard weapons (pistol, shotgun and bomb launcher) can be customised with different parts and abilities which are hidden in many of the game's levels. These changes can be changing the trigger to be automatic or altering it so it charges up to produce more powerful shots. While these aren't revolutionary, they help to tailor these frequently used firearms to your particular style of play.

Much of Ratchet's gameplay is diverse with satisfying platforming, puzzling and shooting broken up with some different sections. Space combat occurs every few levels in small areas of space where you fight enemy ships, perform side missions and land on unexplored moons. These sections are refreshing and well handled, offering a different style of action and some different backdrops. Your spaceship can be upgraded by collecting hidden Zoni within the levels to help make these parts of the game easier. The levels are all different and as usual an arena combat zone occurs with a range of challenges and prizes, some of which are particularly testing. Sadly, this title doesn't feature a large world to explore with various beasties to kill in order to collect sellable items, as per the other titles in the series.

A Crack in Time Screenshot 3

Due to the separation of Clank from Ratchet, the title is very much split into two different games. Clank's sections are all puzzle orientated with the Great Clock providing time related challenges. These are potentially nightmarish in difficulty, where you are tasked with performing actions using different versions of Clank, recording them, then playing them all out at once to progress. If this sounds complicated, then that's because it is. For example, in one room there is a switch which opens a door, but only when you stand on it. To advance you are required to record one version of Clank standing on it, before recording a second to walk through the door while the other holds it open. Things soon become more difficult when you have 4 Clanks all doing different things, many of which need to be re-recorded. Few games have had puzzles that gave me this much of a headache, I shudder to think of what this will do to the kids the title is aimed at. Thankfully, there is an option to skip a puzzle if these prove too testing, which is a nice move for the younger demographic.

A Crack in Time Screenshot 4

Despite these difficult puzzles and something of a lack of innovation, this is a fantastic gaming experience. ACiT provides refined and intelligent gameplay with substantial shooting, platforming and puzzling mechanics which will keep people busy for some time. There's plenty to see and do here with a plethora of levels, an excellent bullet hell style mini-game, secret skill points to collect and a "Challenge Mode" which ups the difficulty and adds further upgrades for weapons on a second playthrough.

Insomniac has provided another excellent outing for the duo that's smart, funny and never less than entertaining to play. There is a lot to recommend Ratchet & Clank: A Crack in Time and if you're considering getting it for a younger gamer, then you'll struggle to find as enjoyable a platformer on the PS3.

A Crack in Time Screenshot 5


9.00/10 9

Ratchet & Clank: A Crack in Time (Reviewed on PlayStation 3)

Excellent. Look out for this one.


This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Christopher Wakefield

Christopher Wakefield


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