Ok, its been a little while since the last post but I have been busy lately with work and such, sunk my teeth into this gem a little bit ago so without further ado…
Ratchet and Clank: Tools of Destruction (or Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction in the US) is a continuation and a reboot of the Ratchet and Clank games on the PS2 and PSP formats from the early 2000’s. It contains many of the series staples and characters and oozes with charm right off the mark. However I have never played a Ratchet and Clank game before this one, mostly due to never owning a PS2 (I was an xbox and gamecube gamer), and from the look of the games front cover it didn’t strike me as a game that was really going to be to my tastes…
I must say after opening the box, installing the game, and having to deal with the annoying HDD glitch, I was pleasantly surprised by what I found. Underneath the gloss of saturday morning cartoon slapstick humour was the beating heart of an addictive and immersive platformer with elements of an role playing game. And a long game at that.
The storyline is very much in the vein of a children’s television sci-fi cartoon. You take on the role of Ratchet, a Lombax orphan, and his robot companion Clank. The planet Kerwan, Ratchets current homeworld, is attacked by an incredibly angry Cragmite Emperor, Tachyon, who is hell bent on removing the universe of all the Lombax. It turns out that Ratchet is in fact the very last Lombax left and so Tachyon is after you. The game takes you between galaxies and vast planets in search for the Lombax, and a way to defeat Tachyon altogether. Along the way you come into contact with many different alien species, and even some space pirates (and not the kind found in the Metroid series of games), and each level is beautifully detailed and is filled with some great elements of humour and cubby holes of fun to explore.
Gameplay wise R&C:ToD is not too dissimilar to its prequels, or its sequels, in how it plays. As it works like a third person shooter and a platformer at the same time the end result of how it controls could have been incredibly terrible, however it turned out very slickly. Using L2 to lock onto a target and strafe and R1 or O to shoot the combat side of the game is a breeze to control. When L2 isn’t pressed down it plays very much like any other platform game, allwowing full control of the camera and complete 360º movement. There are however some new additions now the series has found a new home on the PS3. The use of Sony’s Sixaxis control method is prominent throughout the game. Its cleverly utilised for manoeuvring Ratchet in free-falling sections, dictating the pitch and roll of flying with Clanks Robowings attachment, carving holes in walls with the Geo-Laser, for decrypting doors and directing tornado based weaponry. Another addition to this entry into the series is the use of weapon levelling. In previous R&C games weaponry would level up through use giving it more damage, and Ratchet would also level up through killing enemies, thus gaining more health. Ratchet still levels up as before, as do the weapons, but now you can spend a rare mineral inspiringly called Raritanium to level them up further. By spending Raritanium you can now upgrade each weapon even further by increasing damage, ammo capacity, the amount of bolts (in game currency) and Raritanium they drop, the area of effect of the weapon and a special effect that differs with each weapon. This adds an RPG layer to the game, although not the deepest of structures but enough to satisfy my RPG urge for now.
On top of the many weapons to spend hours levelling up, and the huge scope of the main campaign there are a whole plethora of collectibles to gather and things to unlock. Firstly scattered across nearly all of the levels are Holoplans to find. These Holoplans are holographic blueprints for the most powerful and deadliest weapon in the game and there are 13 of them to find. Also scattered across all of the levels, bar one, are Gold Bolts. These gold bolts are hidden away in hard to reach areas or just out of camera shot. These bolts are used to unlock extra character skins for your own silly amusement. You also have the wonders of the Fight Festival to continually revisit, which is just an arena based combat sidequest. There are many different tournaments to enter which reward you with large amounts of bolts or Raritanium to use; each tournament follows a similar pattern of fighting enemies off in waves but each has a twist, avoid the flames, don’t get hit, kill all enemies in a time limit etc. On top of all this you also have skill points to unlock which grant you extra artwork and cinematics to view. The skill points work essentially like Playstation Trophies, as the game launched without trophy support. You gain skill points by meeting certain agendas, such as killing ‘X’ amount of enemies with weapon ‘A’ and so forth or upgrading every weapon to level 5 or uncovering secrets on certain planets etc. And finally to top it all off once you finish the game you can play through the entire thing again in a high score challenge mode! In this mode you gain multipliers for enemies killed and this dictates how many bolts you obtain, however if you get hit your multiplier resets to 1. Its an addictive add on that adds that little bit extra life onto an already massive experience.
Overall Ratchet and Clank: Tools of Destruction is a brilliantly fun game, a game which contains all the childlike charm needed in a platformer, and a game that really tests the older market by laying down a challenge. Its incredibly lengthy and wonderfully executed from start to finish. If, like me, you saw the cover in a shop and just walked on by, you should walk right back and pick it up. I know that I will definitely be playing my way through the sequel.