Ratchet & Clank A Crack in Time – Future Series

This conclusion to the Future Series continues this Ratchet Retrospective! Releasing in 2009, this concludes the story Tools of Destruction and A Quest for Booty tried to tell. Will Ratchet find the Lombaxs? Where IS Clank? And why is an old foe returning?

Lets read this retrospective and find out.

History:
This game was announced early 2009 with a really impressive teaser showing a small orb moving through a clock with a lot of gears, closing with a picture of two Lombax’s and an older Lombax warrior turns to the camera, saying “Are you ready?” before flying off and the logo hits the screen; Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time.

The title was planed to be a strong conclusion to the Ratchet series as a whole, with the plot lines introduced in the earlier Future titles being wrapped up and Insomniac wanting the origins for both Ratchet and Clank to be resolved by the end of this adventure.

New mechanics were introduced such as the hoverboots to push for faster navagation across larger maps, time-based puzzles for Clank and open space exploration to really hit that exploration feeling home. It was also the first time in the series were we got a new composer making music; Boris Salchow takes the help of A Crack in Times score.

People were impressed with the title when it was demoed and showed off, with it having a successful launch in 2009. It got some of the highest scores in the series history (next to the PS2 titles) and people to this day regard it as one of the series best adventures alongside Going Commando/Ratchet 2 and Up Your Arsenal/Ratchet 3.

Story:
The plot continues where Quest for Booty left off, with Ratchet and Talwyn finding out where Clank is and learns that Dr. Nefarious from Ratchet 3 is with him. So, Ratchet rushes to the Polaris Galaxy with Captian Quark joining the ride while Clank wakes up inside this place called the Great Clock, where Dr. Nefarious is causing havok looking for the robot. He stuns Clank and leaves, letting him wake up later and him meeting Sigmund (voice by Nathan Drake himself; Nolan North!).

Ratchet & Quark crash land on a jungle planet where time is all out of wack and after various events happen, Ratchet sets off to explore space to find another Lombax, named General Azmith.

The story is less humorous compared to past titles but that is fine, as this serious story where Clank and Ratchet learn about themselves and their history was enjoyable. Ratchet learning where the other Lombax’s are and Clank discovering he wasn’t just an mistake in a robot factory are just some of the plot lines explored in this game.

I also love Nefarious coming back with Laurence, Quark stealing the show whenever he is on screen and Azmeth being a strong character; he has motivations for his actions and its nice seeing Ratchet have a father-figure for a significant portion of the game. It also helps that he is one of the best boss fights in the series and his introduction was very impressive.

I liked this story but it is not my favorite in the series; that honor still goes to Up Your Arsenal.

Gameplay:
Will say this right now, the jump from Tools of Destruction/Quest for Booty to A Crack in Time is HUGE. Everything and I mean everything got improved. But lets take it one step at a time.

Lets go over one big thing first; the game is called Ratchet & Clank, but they don’t meet up until very late in the game. But both still get a lot of screen time with Clank having lengthy puzzle sections and Ratchet taking up a good 60% of gameplay time.

Okay, now we can go over Ratchet’s gameplay. His control feels very tight and responsive compared to Tools, with things feeling far more ‘instant’. Not to mention some smart choices (wrench throw being more instant, gadgets mapped to the D-Pad) makes ‘small’ things feel better then before.

Ratchet’s combat is better then ever, with a great line up of weapons to play with and every tool being great to use. The ‘Devices’ are gone and the popular ones like Mr. Zurkon and the Groveatron become full-on weapons now. We also get special Constructo Guns (Blaster, Bomb, Shotgun) that can be upgrade with mods you find across the level; you are pushed into platforming to get more tools to mess around with and that is a smart design choice.

Other fun weapons include the Sonic Eruptor which is like a Shotgun but it being a living creature using a mating call for a powerful attack and a fun black-hole gun that summons a Cathulu tentacles to pull your foes into a void-less sky. We also get the Spiral of Death, the first fan-made weapon to ever grace the series; its cool that this appears in the Ratchet Movie as well.

So, the weapons are fun and core gameplay is better then ever. What else is there to cover for Ratchet? Well, the level designs are far more closed in, with exploration pushed but not enough. Tools had large levels to explore with Crack in Time having smaller locations for main levels. This is fixed with the moons you can explore though.

We also get to tap our inner Sonic the Hedgehog with Ratchet’s hoverboots. They allow him to hover in the air (replacing Clank) and being able to go very fast across large landscapes. Very useful to get from point A too point B very fast. We also get a few parts where these shine, like its introduction level where Ratchet spins, bounces and flies across large gaps of level; very fun and made me think of the Sonic series at points.

Ratchet can explore space now with his ship and once you are in space, no load times for bouncing between the moons. This means that you could visit each moon and get everything without jumping into a loading screen! But the moons offer little challenges like races with your hoverboots, small platforming levels and combat waves to get through.

You are rewarded with Gold Bolts (buy costumes), Mods (used for Constructo Weapons) and Zoni (little creatures that can upgrade your ship). These are great rewards and with the iconic arena returning from past titles, you have a lot to do with Ratchet. His ship also has a few combat sections but they are very minor; very simple gameplay wise and not really that engaging.

Clank is interesting though, as his gameplay is completely different from ANY gameplay style in the series then and now. You have Clank being able to push his time abilities from Tools even further by making copies of himself and you can ‘record’ actions they do. So, you can have copy A step on switch, copy B defending copy A from foes, copy C running toward the exit. That is just one of the many puzzles you will solve.

Clank also has a staff that can be used for fighting, time bombs that freeze everything for a short while and a great triple jump. He is far more useful then any other incarnation of Clank and his levels are a great way to break up the action.

Presentation:
This game looks great to me, with bright colors, detailed locations and some impressive animation. That is the one thing I took away, as Ratchet has far better animations compared to his ones in Tools of Destruction. Cut-scenes are also very impressive too and feel like literal movie clips.

The game also has a really nice touch; weapons movies that have an animated Ratchet react to different weapons being used when he gets them. They are funny, well animated and are very funny!

Musically, its just okay. With the main series composer being gone and replaced with a new guy, the series got a more movie-based score. I did like a number of the tracks though and they do fit nicely when you are playing the game.

Main Menu Theme: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BvXa…PKZGOX19AOCWn1
The Caretaker’s Awakening: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bO_k…AOCWn1&index=4
Lumos – Krell Canyon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U_wg…CWn1&index=114
Nefarious Space Station – The Battle for Time: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CT75…PKZGOX19AOCWn1
The Great Clock – Heroes Collide: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tY32…CWn1&index=192

Overall:
This is a great action platform that could of been a nice conclusion to the Ratchet series. A lot of lose ends got wrapped up, the ending is heartwarming and I loved the character growth everyone got here. Not to mention we got strongest gameplay for the series since the PS2 Era Ratchet titles.

Fantastic game and while not my favorite game in the series, very close to Ratchet 3 and 2 to me.

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