The conclusion of the Ratchet & Clank Future arc, Ratchet & Clank: A Crack In Time focuses on Ratchet's continuing rescue mission of Clank and the dastardly deeds of antagonist Dr Nefarious.
Building upon much familiarity from previous Ratchet & Clank games, A Crack In Time introduces numerous new mechanics including Clank's puzzle-based time manipulation side-quests, Ratchet's hover boots and new sandbox style space exploration gameplay. Ratchet & Clank: A Crack In Time takes approximately eight hours to complete with many side-quests left to explore. There are also numerous difficulty levels to attempt and leaderboards tracking progress.
Ratchet & Clank's core gameplay mechanics remain unchanged in A Crack In Time. Much of the gameplay hinges on the collection of bolts and the levelling of Ratchet's ever-increasing arsenal. We don't know what it is about Ratchet & Clank, but we always get the urge to destroy every crate we come across. It should be the most repetitive thing in video games, but it's just so rewarding.
Taking more than a few cues from Super Mario Galaxy, A Crack In Time is literally littered with really great level design. We'd hardly call it innovative; it's not supposed to be. It's just good, fun, enjoyable platforming. The sub-planet hub missions are the best, which can be accessed by flying Ratchet's spaceship Aphelion between galaxies. These sub-planets are packed with varying platforming challenges that are just so enjoyable to complete. You'll always be rewarded for your endeavours too, with tons of things to collect.
There are not a lot of games left like Ratchet & Clank. It's practically a dead genre now. Thus, as fans of the genre, A Crack In Time feels so refreshing, even though it's a throwback to other games in the franchise. Ratchet & Clank is all about having a great time with Ratchet's abilities, and Insomniac bring enough fresh ideas to A Crack In Time to breathe life back into a dying genre.
Naturally, as Ratchet's honorary sidekick, Clank gameplay has been extremely limited in the past, but A Crack In Time awards him his own set of levels and abilities. Taking a few cues from Braid, Clank's time manipulation levels allow you to record multiple versions of yourself, allowing you to complete increasingly tricky platforming sections. They start out easy but get extremely tough later on. Thankfully, Insomniac constantly dangle the carrot, making the puzzles tricky enough to provide a challenge, but never so hard that you want to give up.
It's a given that A Crack In Time is a fantastic looking game with great CGI cutscenes, but the real star of the show is the performance of the game's engine. Even when there are explosions, bolts, shrapnel and enemies literally filling the screen, the game never drops a frame. Impressive.
Ratchet & Clank is one of the few video game franchises that can prompt a smile. A Crack In Time is Insomniac on top form. With a bigger role for Captain Quark, and just a better plot all around, the game is probably the funniest Ratchet & Clank outing on PlayStation 3. The game's sense of humour culminates in an arcade game based on Quark's upcoming movie. Think retro, think Quark, think laugh out loud.
If we had to moan about something in A Crack In Time — do we really have to? — it would be that the weapons are a bit weak this time around. Seeing as the weapons are Insomniac's bread and butter, it's a little disappointing to be underwhelmed in that area. Sure, the Groovitron Glove (which makes your foes dance) and the Rift Inducer 5000 (which summons a giant monster from an alternate universe) are comical, but we didn't really find any uses for them, and failed to ever settle on a weapon that we really liked.
On its standard difficulty, A Crack In Time can be a little easy. Then again, we suppose there's a lot to be said for a game that we sat and smiled through from start to finish. Some games cause us to rip our hair out before we view the credits. Let's just say A Crack In Time is well balanced, eh?
Ratchet & Clank: A Crack In Time is throwback in almost every sense, but it succeeds because it builds upon all that has come before. Ratchet & Clank remain a shining beacon in a dying genre.