A few years ago, Ratchet & Clank, Insomniac’s inspired space-traveling duo, made its debut on the PlayStation 3 with Tools of Destruction, an adventure that really opened up their world with larger levels and more thrilling action-based scenarios. The fun didn’t stop there, as they continued through a number of other releases, including the digital exclusive Quest For Booty; the inspired sequel A Crack In Time; the multiplayer adventure All 4 One; the strategy-based Full Frontal Assault; and, last but certainly not least, 2013’s platforming adventure Into the Nexus.
Now, with the help of Insomniac, Ratchet & Clank will go back to their traditional action-based form with the forthcoming self-titled adventure for PS4. Due for release next year, the game reverts back to the origins of the first PS2 game, which originally came out way back in 2002. However, as you might expect, the developers have expanded this world so that it’s bigger and better than ever, giving the heroic Lombax and his robot pal room to roam as they fight some of the galaxy’s biggest threats.
The game, which will tie in with a CG animated film that will hit theaters next year, will pit the duo against an all new intergalactic threat, while getting some help from allies along the way, including shop owners that provide a number of new weapons, along with the egotistical (but still somewhat well-meaning) Captain Quark. They’ll need all the help they can get, as the opposition is much more fierce this time around, firing on all cylinders as they attempt to stop this tag team.
As you might expect, Insomniac has really put a lot of effort into Ratchet & Clank’s design. It looks closer in quality to a Pixar movie than any of its previous titles (that’s saying something considering how great the PS3 games are), with beautiful animations and a universe that appears to be wide open for exploration.
This is, in part, to the much larger levels featured in the game. One in particular is an open-world stage where you’re asked by a fellow scientist to track down brains (eew) hidden throughout. There are over a hundred to find, so, needless to say, Ratchet and Clank have their work cut out for them. Thankfully, with the help of a jetpack – which operates rather smoothly with a press of the L1 button – getting around is much easier than just huffing around on foot. It also sets up an opportunity for aerial strikes, using both Ratchet’s wrench and a handful of weaponry.
Speaking of guns, Ratchet has plenty to choose from in this adventure. Mr. Zurkon makes a glorious return, smashing enemies while spouting over-confident cries of victory. The Morph-o-Ray is also back, turning enemies into harmless characters with a simple zap. Plus, the Groove-a-Tron still packs a punch, forcing foes to dance along with a disco beat while you finish them off. (There’s even a mini disco ball for good measure!)
There are a number of others that will be introduced in the game as well, including the Suck Cannon (which pulls a Kirby and draws enemies close enough to be vacuumed up), the Visibomb Gun (shooting explosive projectiles) and the Pixelizer, an old-school sort of cannon that turns foes into bits. Literally, like 8-bits.
Ratchet & Clank’s gameplay still has a lot of variation to it. Along with shooting weapons, you can use your wrench for melee strikes, or to activate certain switches throughout each stage, in the form of a giant screw that you can rotate around to activate. In addition, Clank comes in handy with jumping across large gaps (he basically transforms into a mini-helicopter), allowing Ratchet to hover long enough to reach the other side. More abilities are likely to be introduced as well, since the demo we tried out didn’t quite show them all.
Mastering these abilities is a must, as you’ll face a number of ferocious beasts over the course of the game, which can take a lot of firepower. One of these include the Snagglebeast, a large, remote-controlled monster that delivers thunderous hits with its paws, while occasionally calling upon his minions to attack you. The key is to keep delivering damage to him, while using Ratchet’s wrench to fend off the others – oh, and not falling into the pools of hot lava that are on the sides. This will instantly take energy off of Ratchet’s life bar, so watch your step.
With a beautiful cinematic style that puts the other games to shame (yes, even A Crack In Time) and great gameplay that offers something both old and new to the series, Ratchet & Clank could easily be the best adventure for the duo yet. We’ll find out just how it shapes up when it makes its debut on the market in spring 2016.
Get your sneak peek at the Ratchet & Clank movie here!