Everyone’s favorite intergalactic duo is back in Ratchet and Clank Future: A Crack in Time, Insomniac’s latest installment of the fan-favorite Ratchet and Clank franchise. Ratchet and Clank have once again been tasked with saving the universe from the clutches of the evil Dr. Nefarious. Their journey, which unfolds over the course of about 10-12 hours of an eclectic mix of platforming, puzzles, and gun-slinging action, is some of the most fun the franchise offers.
Picking up directly after the events of Tools of Destruction and Quest for Booty, Ratchet and Clank are still separated. In fact, you spend nearly the game’s entirety apart. If you missed the aforementioned games, a cleverly-placed interview with Captain Qwark takes place as the mandatory 500MB game data installs, which will give you enough back story to bring you up to speed. The Zoni have abducted Clank, and have been duped into teaming up with Dr. Nefarious. He then turns on the Zoni once they refuse his entrance into the Orvus Chamber of The Great Clock. The Great Clock is a mystical structure built by a Zoni named Orvus to stabilize the rift time-space continuum.
The game starts off throwing Ratchet right into the action as he sets off to locate his long-lost robot pal Clank. Ratchet departs on his journey along-side Captain Qwark, and as expected, gains an arsenal of unique and comical weapons that only the creative folks at Insomniac could cook up. Along the way Ratchet meets General Azimuth, who like Ratchet, is a furry creature known as a Lombax. Until now it’s been believed that Ratchet was the only Lombax left in the universe. With Ratchet’s finding of General Azimuth, he learns of his origins, and is eventually presented with the choice of bringing back his family, or saving the universe.
Meanwhile, Clank is responsible for being the caretaker of the The Great Clock, the key to temporal stability of the universe. As the title would suggest, The Great Clock and time itself is a central theme in the game. Ratchet is in a race to locate The Great Clock and along with it, Clank. Clank however, has plenty to do on his own as he learns the ins and outs of being the caretaker to The Great Clock. During your time with Clank, you’ll experience the game’s shining achievement in gameplay. Clank has the ability to manipulate time itself. Clank will solve puzzles by stepping on colored tiles which initiate recorded “copies” of himself, which you use to essentially team up with yourself (recorded selves) to press buttons, raise and lower platforms to eventually progress into the next area. This new time-manipulation gameplay is difficult, and requires you to really stop, think, and plan your approach. As difficult and as time-consuming as this can be, it’s very rewarding when you finally make it through some of the tougher puzzles.
You’ll never get bored playing as either Ratchet or Clank, and your time with each character is nicely balanced. Ratchet is certainly the focus, as you’ll spend the majority of your time playing as the Lombax. Another way the game breaks up the pace is through Ratchet’s space ship, which lets you traverse each sector of space. The ship gameplay is actually rather disappointing compared to the rest of the game. Using it to traverse each sector is fine and dandy,but it’s when you start getting into intergalactic battles where it can get frustrating. Your ship has a very limited move set, and it’s difficult to control. Definitely not a deal breaker, but instead is a missed opportunity.