After finishing “Ratchet and Clank: Up Your Arsenal”, I became such a fan of the series that, not long later, I went out and bought a PlayStation 3 to get the new games. After an interlude of sheer idiocy, I figured out how to get the thing working (I knew something was suspicious about that cable…), and the first game I played was “Ratchet and Clank Future: A Crack in Time”. This game is not the first of the PS3 “Ratchet and Clank” games. I believe it’s actually the third in the “Future” trilogy. So why did I start at the end? Two words. Dr. Nefarious. He was the character from “Up Your Arsenal” that made me fall in love with the series, and seeing as he’s the main villain of “A Crack in Time”, I needed to play the game.
Unfortunately, I spoiled a lot of the game before playing it. At first, I didn’t think I’d get the PS3 anytime soon, but I just couldn’t wait to see what happened in this game. So I read bits and pieces of the plot on both Wikipedia and the “Ratchet and Clank” wiki. I also watched many of the cut scenes with Dr. Nefarious in it on Youtube, because he’s downright funny. Turned out to be quite unnecessary. I finally realized there was no point in waiting. I had the money. Why not get the PS3? And so I did.
Anyway, this game’s story starts out with Ratchet and Captain Qwark looking for Clank, who actually was taken by these creatures called Zoni two games prior. Somewhere farther away, at the exact center of the universe (“give or take fifty feet”) is a huge structure called the Great Clock, where Clank currently is residing. Unfortunately, Clank is damaged, and the Zoni (who are apparently rather naïve) have asked the evil Dr. Nefarious to repair Clank for them. Nefarious obliges, as he has his own purpose for Clank, as the little robot holds the key to opening the Orvus Chamber, the most important room of the Great Clock. Gasp. Over the course of the game, we find out more about Ratchet’s past, what Nefarious is plotting, and what Clank has to do with the Great Clock.
Fortunately, despite the major spoilers I put myself through, the game still turned out to be a blast. The first thing I noticed was how amazing the graphics are. Absolutely spectacular (and I’m not even using HD, which I still believe wholeheartedly looks no different anyway). It’s just wow. The usual humor is still there, too. This game is as funny as the earlier ones. Maybe more so. And the voice acting is some of the best I’ve ever heard, like usual.
And like the other “Ratchet and Clank” games, this game consists of exploring planets and using awesome weapons (well, the weapons aren’t that great until you get farther into the game). There are new guns and some new gadgets, including the very awesome hoverboots, one of the best items ever. These can be used to move very fast, jump farther, and use these ramps to get across large gaps. And I want them. I want them for real. (And you can throw Ratchet’s wrench while walking now. It sounds like such a simple change, but it is so convenient. Ratchet has lost the ability to crouch, though. Got bad knees, Ratchet? Me, too.)
Different to previous games, this one is split up between Ratchet’s story and Clank’s. Ratchet’s part of the game involves the usual stuff I just mentioned, and Clank’s involves exploring the Great Clock and solving these difficult time puzzles. They really get me thinking. I’ve never seen puzzles like this before. You can record yourself doing an action, and then you can do things while your past self does the recorded action. Like it can go stand on a switch for you while you go through the door. Some get more complex, too. You have your past self stand on a switch, which gives you access to a second switch. So you stand on the second switch as Clank #1 stands on the first switch. And then you record over Clank #1, and you stand on the first switch for Clank #2, so Clank #2 steps on the second switch, and you go through the door. Woo, huff, out of breath. And it gets a lot more complicated than that. Whoever said video games rot your brain never tried puzzles like this. All this brain exercise has given my brain rock-hard abs.
Anyway, since the weapons are an important part of the games, I wanted to quickly mention a few I found particularly great. The Rift Inducer 5000 (which actually shows up in some form in “Up Your Arsenal”, but I never used it back then) was awesome. It opens a rift to another dimension, and these tentacles come out (belonging to a creature named Fred), and Fred will attack enemies and pull them through the rift. Watching a big, hunky Agorian get picked up as if he weighed nothing and pulled through a rift never gets old. I also liked Mr. Zurkon. He is this robot that fights alongside you, while insulting and threatening those around him. Some of his quotes I liked were:
“Mr. Zurkon does not come in peace.”
“Mr. Zurkon requires no Nanotech to survive. Mr. Zurkon lives on fear.”
And at one point he said something to the tune of Camptown Races (you know it, the song that goes “Doo da. Doo da.”), part of which goes “Zurkon kills stuff all day long”. You can’t not love Mr. Zurkon. If you don’t, he’ll probably just kill you. Because he’s great.
Something else that is new to this game is the fact that you also can fly around in space now. On the PS2, you would choose a location from this menu, and Ratchet would fly there himself. Now you do the flying, and it frightened me a bit at first, being out there in all that, well, space. It’s not as enormous as it looks, though. Good, considering that one of my big fears is being lost out in space. It’s actually broken down into different sectors you can warp right to, so it makes it into manageable chunks. Glad I’m not about to face one of my worst nightmares, after all.
And there’s a lot out here in space. People to help. Moons to explore. There are also a few radio stations you can listen to, which are entertaining, though I didn’t listen to them much (I’m not a big radio-listener in the real world, either). But, I especially had to laugh when Nefarious called in to one talk show to complain about the “Lance and Janice” soap opera. For a supervillain, he seems to have too much free time.
I really ended up liking this game, but I found a few things to be pretty disappointing. It seemed too short, for one thing. There is a ton of extras, which is great, but the main story, as interesting as it was, seemed short. But, maybe that’s just me. The game was also too darn easy. There are three difficulties you can choose from when you start out, and I went with normal. I can’t imagine how easy it must be on easy, then. The final boss battles were especially pathetic. Dr. Nefarious destroyed me in “Up Your Arsenal”. Beating him took hours of trying, and I didn’t win until I practiced tons and used some shield to keep me from taking damage temporarily. This time, I beat him probably within 15 minutes.
Equally troubling is the fact that if you die (I only died once for real; the other times I kept being dumb and falling off the platform), you don’t have to start the battle over from the very, very beginning, like you did in the original three games on the PS2. You just start over that particular section, with full health and full ammo. I suspect this most upsetting change in the game has something to do with the people of Insomniac really being insomniacs, and they were very sleepy when they made this game. That must be it. Wake up and make the other games challenging, or I’ll send Mr. Zurkon after you!
But, to make up for the shortness of the game, there are a lot of extras. Besides helping people and checking out a bunch of moons, as I mentioned a tiny bit earlier, there is an arena where you can battle enemies for bolts and other prizes. There are 40 Gold Bolts you can collect for skins, too. I managed to get them all, and then I used the Dr. Nefarious skin the whole time afterward. (But, since Ratchet is short, it was a very short, stubby Nefarious.) There are also 40 Zoni to collect. They can upgrade your ship and collecting all of them makes something special happen. I know what it is, but I’m not telling. There are also these weapon thingies to collect. I think some are for modifying weapons, and some get you the Ryno V, the strongest weapon in the game, when you collect all of them. I didn’t do as much with that stuff, though, so I’m not as sure what most of them did. I did get the Ryno V, though. ‘Twas awesome. Oh, and this game also has skill points like the others, where you get points for completing certain tasks. These points unlock cheats and concept art. Unlike previous games, I managed to get everything but some of the skill points. (And I only cheated once, to find a Zoni in Krell Canyon. I was only a little naughty.)
Anyway, my first PS3 game was quite delightful. I wish the story was longer, and I wish it was harder, but other than that, it was great. I wish I hadn’t spoiled stuff, though. Probably would’ve been an even better game. Bad duck! Bad!
A Duck in Time