Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction is Insomniac’s second game on the PS3, but their first next-gen iteration of the Ratchet and Clank series. Insomniac’s previous games were some of the top-rated titles on the PS2, and their first PS3 release, Resistance: Fall of Man, became one of the platform’s top performers at over 3 million copies sold. With these kind of high standards, can Insomniac deliver again? Or will they come crashing down?
The first thing that really jumps out at you are the beautiful graphics. If you ever wanted to feel like you were in a Pixar movie, this will get you closer than any other game. The graphics really lay the groundwork for what really is an excellent game. Brightly colored environments, detailed characters, and an overall sense that everything round you is alive. They really hit the nail on the head in the graphical immersion department, and it’s thanks to both the animation quality and the rendering prowess of their game engine.
The central figure of the story is the new villain Emperor Percival Tachyon, a crazed alien who’s hell-bent on killing Ratchet, the last surving Lombax. In Ratchet’s quest to escape Emperor Percival and ultimately defeat him, he will discover that there were more to the Lombaxes then he could have ever imagined!
In addition to Ratchet, his ever faithful companion, Clank, is by side. However, Clank is dealing with some troubles of his own. He’s been communicating with the Zoni, a bunch of cute little robots that only he can see. What they want from Clank and whether he can deliver it to them is one of the big mysteries of Tools of Destruction.
The story, as always, is riddled with humor and wacky characters, and although not perfect it flows rather nicely in the ever-changing universe of Ratchet and Clank. My only criticism would be the cliffhanger ending. It’s not that the ending itself is bad, but rather that it focuses so much on setting up the sequel. It just leaves you wanting more, which I’m sure Insomniac was going for.
What the Ratchet and Clank games really excel at is exciting, impactful gameplay, and Tools of Destruction is no different. The weapons are just as crazy and varied as they are in the previous games. You start with just your wrench, blaster and grenades, but will be purchasing new weapons and armor by collecting bolts. Bolts can be obtained by defeating enemies and destroying crates, which are scattered throughout every level. Bolts can also be acquired by using your wrench to destroy plants, lanterns, and other pieces of the environment. It doesn’t require much work, and will allow you to purchase weapons a lot faster.
The game does a pretty nice job in making you use all 30+ weapons. Although you can get away with just using a few, some enemies are more vulnerable to specific weapon types. Also, the more you use a weapon, the more powerful it becomes. You also can upgrade your weapons’ fire capacity, range, etc. by using crystals obtained from killing enemies. The number of crystals received depends on the how difficult an enemy is to take down.
Another great feature is Ratchet’s large number of gadgets. While extremely useful, ammo for these gadgets is often hard to come by, which is where the purchase system comes in. These gadgets can do virtually anything, such as making your enemies dance, turning them into penguins, or even both! Each one is extremely effective; the aftermath tends to be quite amusing.
However, the game is not without its faults. Switching through the inventory list, although pretty straightforward, could have been implemented a little better. To pull up your choices, you hit the triangle button. This will pause the action and bring up three different screens where you can choose your weapons or gadgets. The selection list on each page is completely customizable, but also allows for redundancy, which can be both good and bad. With the large number of weapons and gadgets, it occasionally becomes a chore to adjust this list, especially when earning new weapons or gadgets. Further compounding this situation is the fact that some gadgets are actually weapons.
The thing that really makes Tools of Destruction great, though, is the variety of gameplay choices. You do not simply platform or shoot your way through the levels, as there are a ton of mini-games scattered throughout. There will be areas where you must hang-glide through tight spaces, instances where you need to dress like a pirate, and so much more. The truly great thing about these mini-games is that they’re not put in just for variety’s sake. The subtle details in the dialogue and characters will make you laugh and smile, and it’s really the emotional ride that supplements the variety found in the gameplay.
Insomniac has also done a pretty good job of implementing Sixaxis motion controls. A few examples include hang-gliding, free-falling, cutting through walls, and even controlling one of the weapons in the game. Although not perfect, it is some of the best usage of motion controls I’ve seen on the PS3 so far. Also worth mentioning is that if Sixaxis isn’t your cup of tea, the Options Menu allows you to turn all motion controls off and use the analog sticks instead.
Overall, gameplay is rather easy. Though a difficulty setting isn’t available during the first playthrough, a Hard Mode is unlocked once the game is complete. This mode includes the ‘option’ of upgrading your weapons even more. Sadly, the replay value really isn’t there once you’ve beaten it. A second playthrough really doesn’t open any new areas or opportunities. One of the series’ biggest strengths is also it’s biggest weakness. There is a ton of variety in the game but as a whole, Tools of Destruction doesn’t really do anything different from the rest of the series. This isn’t really a bad thing since the game is executed so well, but my concern is that the gameplay may start to get old.
Overall this is just another solid game in the Ratchet and Clank series. It doesn’t do anything new, but then again it really doesn’t need to. It isn’t the best game in the series, but it is definitely near the top, and every PS3 owner needs to own this game. It’s simply too enjoyable, and too addictive to pass up.
PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score
Huge variety of gameplay choices.
Weapons upgrade system gives a lot of replay value.