E3 07: Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction - hands-on

Ratchet and Clank, the alien Lombax-and-robot duo whose adventures helped define the PS2 era, have gone through a lot of changes over the last few years. with Ratchet covering himself up with more and more armor (leading up to the ridiculous Master Chief outfit from Ratchet: Deadlocked), his weapons have gotten increasingly ridiculous and Clank has gone from pursuing a movie career to being shut out of the game entirely (again, see Deadlocked). With Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction, however, developer Insomniac is back in control and determined to bring back the things that made the first few Ratchets so addictive.

From what we've played so far, that definitely seems to be the case. Visually, the game is incredible; Ratchet himself is better animated and more convincingly furry than ever, and the city of Metropolis (where the demo we played was set) felt gigantic, with cool stuff like collapsing buildings and exploding mortars constantly erupting in the background. Ratchet seems back to his old, happy-go-lucky self - as evidenced right at the beginning, in which he survives a comically horrible aerial crash (on their way to answer a distress call from craven idiot "hero" Captain Quark) and cheerfully shrugs off the near-death experience as an honest mistake. And despite the massive destruction you're surrounded by as the city of Metropolis comes under attack from a mysterious alien army, everything looks really colorful, detailed and hyper-interesting. It's almost a shame that it all goes by so fast.

The gameplay, meanwhile, is vintage Ratchet, and anyone who's played the PS2 games will feel right at home bashing enemies with Ratchet's wrench, floating around using Clank's pop-out propellers and blasting everything that moves with a widely varied arsenal. While smashing open crates and blowing up enemies feels as good as it ever did, the short demo of Future we played brought a few of its own touches to the gameplay. Our favorite, unsurprisingly, was the new Groovitron weapon, which enables Ratchet to toss out a grenade-like disco ball, forcing enemies to dance their asses off to some catchy disco loops for a few seconds.

While they're distracted, you can blow them up with the Combustor (Ratchet's default pulse rifle) or the Fusion Grenades, but it's kind of mesmerizing to just sit there and watch them go. Each enemy has several bizarre, unique ways to bust moves, groups will sometimes do synchronized routines, and every creature in range - from enemy commandos to friendly robots to flying saucers to small, terrified fish-things - is guaranteed to perform. For extra cuteness, you can use the Transmorpher gun to turn baddies into adorable, scarf-and-hat-wearing penguins first, and then toss out a Groovitron to watch them happily wave their stiff little wings around before you blow them straight to hell.


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