Ratchet and Clank Future: A Crack in Time

Kombo’s Review Policy: Our reviews are written for you. Our goal is to write honest, to-the-point reviews that don’t waste your time. This is why we’ve split our reviews into four sections: What the Game’s About, What’s Hot, What’s Not and Final Word, so that you can easily find the information you want from our reviews.

What the Game’s About
Ratchet and Clank Future: A Crack in Time is the next installment of the favorite action-adventure duo as they tackle their biggest challenge yet. A Crack in Time is the continuation of the Tools of Destruction and Quest for Booty story arch that split Ratchet and Clank up, which was all crafted by their arch nemesis Dr. Nefarious. Early in the game, you find out the story behind the mysterious Zoni and why Clank was taken. It also becomes quickly apparent that Ratchet isn’t the only Lombax in the universe. As Ratchet and Clank make their way to find each other, they work to stop a plot by Nefarious that threatens the very existence of everything.

What’s Hot
There is a very specific formula that makes a Ratchet and Clank game a Ratchet and Clank game, and those pieces remain intact as more pieces are added to the overall picture. One of the best features is the hub world you pilot Ratchet’s spaceship through. No longer do you have to sit and watch the ship “whoosh” by in a very poorly disguised loading screen. You can fly your ship across the different galaxies and make stops along the way.

Apart from the main missions, there are plenty of side quests that allow you to spend more time in the Ratchet universe by exploring planetoids that bring back one of the best parts of past ratchet games by traversing a sphere and negotiating challenges in a way that was popularized by Mario Galaxy (even if Ratchet and Clank were technically first). The ability to take off and land on a whim brings the universe to life in a way not yet achieved in a Ratchet and Clank game. The side missions aren’t too deep, so you won’t have to worry about straying too far from the core game. Some missions will have you clear a planet of enemies, other missions will involve roping a comet or require old fashioned blasting your way through spaceships.

A Crack in Time tells the tale of the heroes from two points of view, one from Ratchet and one from Clank. Some parts overlap and other parts fill in details. Basically, the telling of the story is splendidly crafted. When you aren’t watching gorgeous cinematic full of personality, humor and heart, there is a lot of gameplay that makes up the meat of the game. The intense and familiar action stands well against the test of time, and the new inclusions put A Crack in Time as the best game in the series. Clank’s missions involve him using a Chronoscepter to create replicas of himself to solve puzzles that allow him to be in more than one spot at a time. They start off relatively simple and progressively get more challenging as you get more comfortable with the time recording mechanics. It provides the yin to the action yang that used to dominate the Ratchet and Clank series.

The other new item to use in the game is Ratchet’s hover boots. The boots are used primarily to speed around the worlds you explore and reach new heights. They are a very fun way to move across the maps; so much fun, in fact, that they should be remembered as one of the best items in videogame history. The way they are integrated with the rest of the game will definitely make them a staple of the series for eternity. Not a bad deal seeing how much unbridled joy they bring when you fire them up.

What’s Not
A Crack in Time has a been there, done that feeling. By no means does it mean that the franchise is stale or out of ideas. It means that Ratchet and Clank are getting comfortable after finding the gameplay and storytelling sweet spot. There are familiar weapons, familiar gadgets and even some familiar settings. You can even go as far as to say the game is somewhat predictable in what happens because the characters are all fairly predictable now. It is nearly impossible to pin down areas that are rough around the edges or don’t gel with the rest of the game but the fact remains that (if you couldn’t tell by the number of times the word has been used) it all feels familiar. The built-in story might be part of the reason since this is the third game of the same story arc, and A Crack in Time tidies up the loose ends, more or less.

Final Word
Insomniac has created another Ratchet and Clank to top the last one. On one hand, if something isn’t broken, you shouldn’t fix it but you have to wonder how many adventures are left for Ratchet and Clank. There shouldn’t be any confusion, this is one of the best gaming experience yet this year, but Insomiac has done such a great job over the years that a déjà vu feeling sets in and lets you get comfortable with the franchise by not shaking the foundation too much. It isn’t a huge strike against the game, but it is a feeling that will wash over franchise veterans. A Crack in Time brings some dynamite new features that add to franchise and maintains the highest levels in animation and writing that only Insomniac and a handful of other developers can hope to achieve.