A Crack In Time Saves Nine
In terms of great platforming duos, few names roll off your tongue like Ratchet & Clank: even Mario and Luigi or Sonic and Tails doesn’t sound right. The duo return to the PlayStation 3 for their ninth game, an epic intergalactic jaunt through space and time that the rest of us can refer to as Ratchet and Clank: A Crack In Time.
Separating our two lead characters for most of the game, A Crack In Time picks up shortly after Quest For Booty (the previous game) with Clank being abducted by the Zoni, mysterious creatures with an affinity for time and who are working with the villainous Dr. Nefarious. While Clank tries to attain freedom, investigating the mysterious “Great Clock” at the centre of the universe, best buddy Ratchet realises he may not be the last of his kind after all, and teams up with bumbling superhero Captain Qwark to find and save Clank.
Gameplay is similar for both Ratchet and Clank in the game, ultimately a 3D platforming game with some puzzle elements: Ratchet’s access to a multitude of weapons means that his levels involve some run-and-gunning (for the most part, the weapons are either auto-aiming or have a wide enough area of effect that aiming is unnecessary) while Clank is mostly dealing with puzzles. Both of our heroes, however, find their adventures hampered by a series of problems with the timestream: in some cases, this is as simple as providing the reason for moving platforms or environments that change as you move through them, but for Clank, it requires using little-known powers to manipulate time, effectively working with past and future versions of himself (also controlled, or more accurately “recorded” by the player) to solve puzzles.
The physics of Ratchet and Clank’s universe provide some of the greatest moments of the game, both for the temporal manipulations and Ratchet’s weaponry as well. Everything in the game is beautifully animated, even down to Ratchet’s fur, both in cut scenes and in actual gameplay. But the series and the game are at their best with dialogue and a narrative that both reference and parody other games and the science fiction genre overall, and A Crack In Time is no exception to this, with a rich epic storyline in which every little thing has some contribution to the plot.
Ultimately, fans of the Ratchet and Clank series aren’t going to be disappointed with A Crack In Time but as the final entry in a trilogy of games, it’s somewhat difficult to invest in the game if you haven’t played its predecessors. But the series has also earned its place among the legends of platforming, and even the most basic of playthroughs of this game will win the series many new fans for their next outing.
Zombie Rating: B+
Ratchet And Clank: A Crack In Time is out now on Sony PlayStation 3.