With Ratchet And Clank: Into The Nexus — which Sony is releasing for the PlayStation 3 both on disc and through the PSN store — Insomniac Games bring to a close to the Future set of Ratchet And Clank games. But while this hopefully isn’t the last we’ll see of Mssrs. Ratchet y Clank, at least this chapter of the series is going out with a bang.
When we rejoin our heroes, they’re on board a space ship, escorting a notorious criminal to jail. But when eh bad girl’s brother helps her escape, it’s up to Ratchet and Clank to track them down, even if it means going to a section of space that’s…haunted!
Don’t worry, this isn’t nearly as Scooby-Doo-ish as it sounds. Instead, Ratchet And Clank: Into The Nexus is yet another wild sci-fi adventure that’s filled with the kind of reflex-challenging action, brain-taxing problem solving, and LEGO-style collecting that we’ve come to expect from these games.
As with other entries in this series, Ratchet And Clank: Into The Nexus mixes inventive platforming and puzzle solving with cartoony third-person shooting, hack & slash combat, Pixar-ish cartoony humor, and sadistically-creative weapons.
And it’s in that latter category where things get good and weird. While other games have had their own versions of the Vortex Grenade, which creates a small black hole from which no nearby enemy can escape, I defy you to name another game with something like The Winterizer, which turns bad guys into stationary snowmen. Or, in keeping with the whole Scooby-Doo vibe, something like the Nightmare Box, which brings forth goblins and g-g-g-ghosts that will attack your enemies.
But my favorite new weapon — though, admittedly, it is the most conventional — is the Temporal Repulsor, which is like a shotgun, except it knocks enemies backwards and, if they don’t fall off a ledge or smash against something, will suspend them so you can re-shoot them at your leisure. I can only imagine how much fun this would be in a game like Halo or Call Of Duty.
Even without these wacky (and not so wacky) weapons, though, it’s still fun to just whack guys with your wrench.
Ratchet and Clank also have some new gadgets to help them get around. The Grav Tether, for instance, connects two receptors, allowing our heroes to go between them as if they were Batman on a zip wire. Though the real fun comes when you cross the streams.
Even with all the new toys, though, Ratchet And Clank: Into The Nexus largely doesn’t stray far from its established formula. But while this may not be a revolution — or certainly enough of an evolution for some people — the new gadgets and weapons do make it feel like a variation on a familiar but still fun theme.
Which isn’t to say this is just Ratchet And Clank Future: A Crack In Time II: Electric Boogaloo. For starters, there are times where you have to race against the clock. And while you can just reset the timer and try again, it still gives these moments a bit more urgency.
But the biggest change comes when Clank go into The Netherverse, an alternate dimension where the perspective changes and this turns into a 2D side-scroller. But while similar games might have you running and jumping up, down, and left to right, Clank gets to run along the walls and the ceiling as well as the ground. Further complicating matters, whatever surface he’s on acts like the ground. So if he’s running along the ceiling, and he jumps, he doesn’t land on the floor but instead back on the ceiling. And it’s all done without a change in perspective. While the ceiling may act like the floor when Clank is on it, you still see it as the ceiling.
The only problem is that you can switching directions in mid-air, which means you can kind of cheat these part and sort of swim through the world. But even then, these puzzling parts make for a nice change of pace.
As fun as Ratchet And Clank: Into The Nexus may be, it’s not without its shortcomings, even if they are minor and nitpicky. For instance, when Ratchet uses a ladder, you don’t push up on the thumbstick to climb, you have to hit the X button instead to jump up.
There are also some orbs you can use to swing on, but they’re sometimes less effective than you expect them to be, so getting the hang on them is uncharacteristically difficult.
That said, I’m overjoyed to say that Ratchet And Clank: Into The Nexus avoids a problem so prominent in gaming these days that I feel like I could paste a negative version of this paragraph into every review I write: the size of the type isn’t too small. Which means you don’t have to get up and stand next to the TV when you want to read the menus.
While Ratchet And Clank: Into The Nexus marks the end of the Future chapter, it hopefully won’t also mark the end of the Ratchet And Clank series. For if this engaging and addictive game shows anything — aside from the fact that Murphy’s Law is intergalactic and inter-dimensional — it’s that this series should have a future.