So come October 20th the Ratchet and Clank series will expand by one yet again. Marking its third entry into the current generation, the Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction amazed us all with its visuals, scale, and charm. It's "sequel", Quest for Booty, continued onward with the storyline directly following the events of Tools of Destruction. Quest for Booty was a first-of-its kind offering, boasting a full fledged experience, in a three hour downloadable package that cost a mere $15. It was the steal of the year, no doubt about it. But, a proper sequel is nearly here and we've dug our way through it to tell you what you should expect.
First off, if you're up to date with your R&C happenings, then you should be well aware that Clank was kidnapped by Doctor Nefarious. This, of course, means it's up to Ratchet, and Captain Quark (what! what!), to rescue Clank. As the game opens up, a lengthy cinematic eventually leads to Clank awakening to discover he's been kidnapped to, what Nefarious calls, his birthplace. Heavy. So Ratchet and Quark embark on their adventure, and immediately something goes wrong. The duo finds themselves in an odd, and very beautiful, tropical environment, home to the Fongoids, which later befriend the duo and help them get back on course. That is essentially the first 20-30 minutes or so of the game, and what a fantastic way it is to open up a game that has no problem telling you, off the bat, that there's an epic scale in store.
The scenery around you extends as far as your eye can see, and gorgeous objects tower way, way, way over you. It's truly stunning to see just how expansive the environments are, and moreover, most of them continue the tradition of feeling alive and full of presence, as there's a lot of miscellaneous animations going on all around you. Now experiencing the action all throughout these fantastic levels feels even better than before, as the addition of new weapons and a few new abilities helps enhance the enjoyment.
For starters, Ratchet can now throw his wrench while he's running, so no longer do you have to stop to do it. While it may not seem like anything special, it's a nice ability to have, allowing you to damage enemies from afar while you're on the move, and especially pick off crates even quicker than before. Next up is the whole element of time manipulation. There are numerous areas of stages in the game where time has been disturbed and cannot be put back on track. In these segments/portions of a stage, you'll see various scenarios unfold and then watch as time reverses itself and everything rewinds itself – and this repeats non-stop, creating opportunities for some puzzles, as well. If you're confused, think of it this way, in certain parts of the game time is a broken record constantly repeating itself.
Now, with Clank you are given a special staff that grants him the ability to activate time pods, allowing Clank to record four versions of himself and play those recordings back in order to complete numerous puzzles, usually relating to unlocking a door. Admittedly, solving these puzzles and utilizing the recordings of Clank can be rather complicated and will surely frustrate some. But at the same time, they sure are quite creative, and strangely enough, remind me of Portal.
Moving along, space exploration becomes a slightly larger focus, but not being able to travel freely while you're piloting Ratchet's ship feels a bit limited. As far as movement, you're basically locked to either left or right, you can perform a few evasive maneuvers, such as a barrel roll or a 180, but that's about it. More freedom would've surely been nice, but wait until I tell you about the space exploration. You see, in the game there are a whole bunch of moons scattered around the galaxy, which is yours to explore. Each one of these moons is unique in its setup and the reward will be a Zoni (yes, the magical creatures we've been looking for). Traveling from one moon to the next requires absolutely no loading screens or times, as it's all done seamlessly. You hop into your ship, fly to where you wish, land, quickly explore, hop back into the ship and move on to the next moon. And no, these moons are not actually full fledged stages, but rather quick little bursts of action that do not replace the full fledged experience of a massive Ratchet and Clank stage.
Lastly, the weapons continue to be cool, but it's the Hover Boots that are really fun to use, as they enable Ratchet to move around a lot quicker than ever before, and allow him to hover over some really intricate tracks with speed and precision. And if you're wondering, yes, the Groovitron is still in the game.
Since our preview build is not yet complete as far as visuals and sound goes, we'll save that talk for the review. But, I will say this, A Crack in Time is quite a looker. Remember, set your calendars for October 20th.