“So Insomniac is doing me like this with their latest, huh?”
That’s the first thing that came to my mind when I started playing Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time. The thought that the great marsupial-robot duo would be split apart for the title brought me great concern. Fortunately, those worries were quickly dissuaded as I stepped into the roles of hero Ratchet and — no longer just a backpack — Clank.
Yes, A Crack in Time is the same game you’ve been playing for the last seven years but with a slight wrench thrown into the equation via Clank’s own call to adventure. It’s still a fun platformer, of which is seen so little of nowadays, that has you shooting, jumping, and upgrading your weapons to save the day.
This time around, the story revolves around Ratchet going to look after his robot buddy who’s been called on to make sure the “very fabric of time is not ripped.” It’s not the most original story, necessarily, but it comes across with great characterization and animations that pop out of the screen with humor and charm rarely seen in games.
As with the previous R&C games, the progress you make in the titles are multi-tiered where one is going through the motions of the story and — all the while — upgrading Ratchet’s attributes, weapon efficiency, and ship attachments.
New to the series are three base “Constructo” weapons that you can fully customize through your adventure along with the crazy assortment of guns that litter the typical R&C game. In reality, though, you can make it through the entire game with only the occasional upgrade and come out on top. But the customization is there for those who want to wholly up their arsenal.
The greatest change is the inclusion of time-bending puzzles when you’re in the role of Clank. At first an annoyance, Clank’s puzzles become a welcome change of pace from the frenzied action of his counterpart. It’s like managing several ghost runs that eventually unfold as you fumble about and make you feel smarter when you come out the other end. Don’t be dismayed in thinking that that’s all you do with Clank; even he needs a break from repairing fried wires to do some old-fashioned platforming.
What should be frowned-upon are the numerous fetch quests that you come across. THIS needs three energy cores to turn THAT on. The ship needs THIS many Zonis to make it through THAT barrier.
Rinse. Repeat. Spit up.
Initially, they aren’t so bad and serve as a nice motivator to explore the worlds you traverse but when it seriously hinders your ability to continue the story? Unnecessary filler. The “optional” spherical levels — reminiscent of Super Mario Galaxy’s — suddenly become mandatory and a chore when you don’t have enough points to get to the end boss.
Final Thought: A few niggling issues aside, R&CF: A Crack in Time provides a solid, almost-Pixar quality platformer out of the norm in the current gaming climate. It doesn’t cut too far from its series’ roots, but a few puzzles here and a leaderboard there gives you a lengthy palette cleanser to tide you over well before your next time sink hits.