By Neil McCormick
Do you know, I have a problem with next generation console games. There are not enough platform games. Its a genre that is criminally overlooked, it seems ,now a days developers only want to produce shooters, driving games and RPGs. Sometimes you want to play a game, that isnt stressful and is fun to play, you can unwind and just chill out. Thankfully Insomniac Games have gone against the grain and have produced this, the final part of a trilogy in the Ratchet and Clank franchise It feels like setting sight on a welcome oasis in a barren desert. Another thing that riles me, is when people think about platform games, a certain Italian plumber is normally top of the list. Having played all of the trilogy now, I truely believe that Ratchet and Clank offers far more to the game player , you could almost believe that in the last decade they have been the provider of the best platform experience.
Captain Qwark is almost Pixar inspired and reminds me everytime I see him of Buzz Lightyear. The humour of his belief he is a hero when really he is anything but, had me laughing out loud several times throughout the game. The game opens with Qwark talking about his new film ” My Blaster Runs Hot”. Whilst setting a humerous scene, it also acts as a useful tool to bring new players up to date with the back story.
As is typical with the previous games in the franchise, Ratchet, our furry Lombax protagonist, is still on his quest to find his friend Clank. Clank has been taken by the Zoni, Ratchet has to scar the galaxy in the quest to find his missing friend. Whilst travelling through the galaxy, he will pick up clues to his friends whereabout. What is refreshing with this title, is that the developers, have chose to give Clank his own scenarios to deal with. In the previous two games, it has felt that Clank has only existed to be a minor sidekick to Ratchet. To be honest, this time round it felt that when you got to be Ratchet, it was a distraction. You craved to get back into being Clank again.
The types of mission during the course of the story, also helped create the division in the two playing styles of the characters – Ratchet’s story arc is more geared towards using weaponry and fighting with only a hint of puzzle solving. The designers playing on the fact Clank is a robot hammed up his apparent artificial intelligence by providing more complex puzzles. Sometimes it was nearly too much and you craved a brief rsepite from the more taxing problems by having a brief fight.
The last time i played a game with such fiendish but at the same time enjoyable puzzles was the quite wonderful XBLA title Braid. When you complete a puzzle as well as your own satisfaction of being able to work it out, brings rewards. You earn points that you can spend on upgrading or providing new weaponry for Ratchet to use. A useful feature for younger or less competent gamers, is that the developer built into the game a mechanism, that should a puzzle prove to be too tough, you can pay to have the puzzle completed from your bolts pile.
Normally I hate obviously linear games, I do not like to feel that I am being railroaded into a certain path. Modern warfare 2 for one, felt like being on a traintrack. However the linear approach in Ratchet and Clank works so well that I came away not minding that it had happened. Another feature introduced this time round, is that Ratchet could fly round the galaxy doing a number of side quests. This gave a slight break from the main story and gave a chance to earn weapon upgades at the same time. In no doubt a tribute to 2d scrollers of yester year Ratchet would have to face waves of pirates in his space craft. whilst at first it was a slight distraction, by the end of the game it became fun.
The campaign is probably set at the right length, coming in at approximately 12 hours. Considering that modern Warfare 2 only produced a single player campaign of about 6 hours, you do see value for your money. This game is probably crying out to be a purchase, for over the school holidays. Part of the game’s charm is the fact that both young and old gamers will be able to take something from the experience.
Thank you Sony Entertainment Europe and Insomniac Games for delivering a game that brought back the word fun to gaming. For at the end of the day, this is what gaming should be about, relaxing and unwinding and for a brief moment getting lost in the moment and forgetting about any stress or strain.