It came out! I played it! I can speak authoritatively about the experience!
As we said then, Ratchet and Clank is, essentially, a 3D Action Platformer. Run, jump, shoot. What makes it special, however, is that the game gives you so very many different shooting options and each option FEELS different from each other. Well, this game gives you 14 different weapons and I’d say that 11 or 12 of them feel truly distinct from each other. (Given that the whole “ready, aim, apply kinetic force” dynamic remains mostly unchanged between these things.) But there are circumstances where a flamethrower is appropriate and circumstances where a rocket launcher is appropriate (just like real life!) and these circumstances are very different from each other. I found myself enjoying jumping back and forth between different weapons when in different situations and enjoying that the game put me in several situations where I’d need to be doing some light close range and heavy long range in the same battle while jumping around like a Ping-Pong ball.
As you play with each weapon, it goes up levels and becomes more powerful (and, as you play, you get special crystals that allow you to upgrade the weapons further). So if you find a favorite weapon, you’ll quickly find it getting more and more and more powerful. If you’re a completionist (and who isn’t), you’ll find the game constantly challenging as you’re dumping your maxed-out favorite weapon for the somewhat less interesting/more frustrating ones in order to get it up to a decent level.
Another thing that the game does well is in the creation of the different situations/environments. There are about 10 different planets/areas for you to visit and they do a good job of making these distinct. Of course, some are more distinct than others… but there are tropical lagoon planets, metropolis planets, wasteland planets, and you also visit factory floors, space stations, and a delightful level that takes place on the back of a train. (My favorite level is on a planet with lava pools all over the surface and where you get The Jetpack… at which point the game goes from “jump from place to place” to “jetpack from place to place”.) Your starting planet feel like it’s a planet all the way out in the middle of the sticks so that provides a nice experience where even as you think “this new level is on a really pretty planet”, you just know that Ratchet is thinking something similar.
On top of that, Ratchet and Clank has always done a good job of spicing up gameplay and switching from a game where the emphasis is action platforming, to a flying spaceship shooter, to a hoverboard racing game, to a jetpack sim, to a turret shooter, to (when you’re playing as Clank) a puzzle platformer.
All in all the game mixes things up and keeps itself fun and inventive.
Here’s the downside, though: it was a couple of weeks ago that I was looking forward to it coming out. It’s now a week and a half after I got it and… here I am, writing the “I beat it” review. (And I haven’t spent the time between these two posts with my butt glued to the couch either.) It’s a terribly fun, terribly inventive game… that also happens to be terribly short.
It’s a good thing that the replay value is off the charts (and by design… you can only get your weapons up to level 5 in the first playthrough, you need to have a second playthrough if you want to get some of them fully upgraded and up to level 10. And if you want to get all of them maxed out, I’m pretty sure that you’ll need a 3rd playthrough.)
All in all, I can’t wait for the sequel.
Though I hope that the sequel is a bit longer.
So… what are you playing?
(Picture is “Untitled” by our very own Will Truman. Used with permission.)