Ratchet & Clank: A Crack In Time Review
by transformer27

Basic Information:
Developer: Insomniac Games
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Date of North American Release: 27th October 2009
Date of European Release: 6th November 2009
Trophies: Yes

A Crack In Time is the 9th in the series of the Ratchet and Clank titles to be produced by Insomniac Games and the conclusion of the 'Future' trilogy of R&C titles. The game starts from where Ratchet & Clank: A Quest for Booty left off with Clank kidnapped and Ratchet searching the galaxy to find him.

If your a fan of the series or not, this game will appeal to most shooter fans and should also attract a varied age group as it is just as enjoyable for me (a 29 yr old dad) to play, as I am sure it is for a youngster of school age.

The challenge the developers had with this title before release was too make it similar enough for fans to love and varied enough for the rest of us. Unfortunately, even with the few gameplay changes that have been made, it still feels too familiar and the repetitiveness is apparent.

You won't really be blamed for mistaking Ratchet and Clank: A Crack In Time for either of the previous two efforts from Insomniac as this game feels more like an ending to a long, well written story rather than a separate game, or maybe, that was exactly the intention all along. Having said that, there are obvious new additions to the world of Ratchet and Clank including new weapons such as the Chronosceptor, a staff that is given to Clank which can control time and also be used as a very handy weapon.

Ratchet has not been forgotten and gets his very own pair of hoverboots, along with some interesting new weapons. There is also one major change in the style of gameplay this addition to the series brings, and it comes in the form of a fully maneuverable ship, which, you playing as Ratchet can control freely around the various sectors of space available.

The side missions produce a quick blast of fun and a nice change from the standard levels and the puzzles you are faced with playing as Clank can be a challenge for the younger minds. There are also space missions which split up the game well, producing a different angle on the regular gameplay.

Ratchets armour, weapons and ship are all upgradable by collecting small alien lifeforms called Zoni and also the regular Gold Bolts. As you advance through the game it becomes very apparent that collecting these items is very important for finishing the game in a more stress free way.

But overall the gameplay still feels a tad familiar for my liking, especially after playing Ratchet & Clank: Tools of Destruction, which in many ways is very similar to this title. The game can frustrate as well, especially on the harder settings as some of the tournament challenges can be just that, a challenge! and the constant fire button bashing gets tiresome very quickly.

If you look past all that is negative in this game though, there are many positives as well. The story itself is very enjoyable and well written with comedy in the vein of Nathan Drake, if not a little childish. The look of the game is also top notch with a very well polished finish. But, after all the similarities and frustrating parts, it is still one of the best Ratchet and Clank games that has been produced to date.

The singleplayer experience is much like it's two predecessors in the style of play and look of the game, but unlike the games that have come before, there is definitely more depth to A Crack in Time and this is mostly thanks to the open feel you get from being able to control Ratchets ship between levels.

All together there are five 'sectors' to the game. In each sector is an open area of space with the standard story line missions residing on the larger planets while side missions are found either scattered in space, at the depot which is usually located in the middle of the sector and the moons. These side missions, although not necessary for the main story, are home to many gold bolts and Zoni to collect. All moon missions are simple to do and a nice change of pace from the story missions.

The story levels feel a tad similar to previous games although the 'magic' has not been lost, the levels are well designed with a great feel to them and with a brilliant finishing polish to the whole game, its well worth the investment. The addition of free roaming in space and all the side missions boost the appeal and brings something new for fans of the franchise.

You begin the story playing as Clank, who is searching for answers for why he was abducted and for the world he has awoken in. Through the levels that you play as Clank there is a mixture of small set-piece fights and puzzles to solve. The puzzles all revolve around a new addition to the Ratchet & Clank games. Time manipulation. To finish these puzzles the player must record Clank in different time blocks and use the other versions of himself to help him get passed the obstacles. This is a great feature in the game and as each puzzle is relatively easy there should be little to no frustration when trying to solve them.

The story is very well written with some great comedic moments, especially coming from Ratchet. The game as a whole is what we have come to expect from Insomniac in recent years. The only problem I have with the singleplayer story mode is the constant button mashing you have to do on the boss fights. They seem to last forever and you have to unload your whole arsenal on the enemy just to get its health down by half! The first boss is great and a nice challenge, but after the 5th or 6th boss/mini boss fight, the whole process begins to grate.

There are also the usual tournaments available to play in. They are bronze, silver, gold and Raritanium challenge modes, and each has its on level of difficulty, but again these will begin to annoy towards the end as some are extremely difficult (for me anyway). Having said that the game is still a must have title for Fans of the series. With great visuals and storyline A Crack in Time is, along with Tools of Destruction the best Ratchet & Clank game so far. Good job Insomniac.

Apart from the occasional time I got stuck in a corner or behind rock and had to restart the game, there are no real technical problems with the game and as I have said above it has been finished with a real quality polish and with attention to detail.

Gameplay: 8/10
Singleplayer: 9/10
Multiplayer: N/A
Technical: 9/10

Overall: 9/10 Fantastic

Overall I really enjoyed this game, but with the level of frustration I went through trying to beat certain bosses/tournaments, did take away a little of the enjoyment for me. It is obvious that the developers are proud of the Ratchet & Clank franchise and I am sure there is still more to come.