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

Even when they're not dancing, the enemies are fun to watch, particularly the hulking robot commandos Ratchet and Clank are most frequently pitted against in the demo. They're actually mechanized suits piloted by small, fish-looking creatures called Drophyds, who sit in vulnerable, water-filled glass pods. Blow up the robot suit, and the pod will shatter, leaving the Drophyd to flop around helplessly. Get too close, and they'll freeze up and stare at you in goggle-eyed terror, at which point you can smash them into wet chunks or simply ignore them.

Combat aside, things rarely got dull during the demo. As he charged through the crumbling, futuristic city of Metropolis, Ratchet was able to slide on rails (one of which looped around a collapsing building for a cool, disorienting effect), and was frequently catapulted through the air by triangular green jump pads - giving the animators a chance to bust out the dramatic camera angles and show off the city under siege from bird's-eye perspectives. And because the city was under fire, there were also a couple of sequences where the camera drew way back and Ratchet had to run across ruined causeways as they crumbled behind him. There's no escaping the drop when the final walkway collapses, but the disaster gave us a chance to see Ratchet's terrified face in slow-motion close-up, right before we were able to steer his free-fall through crowded aerial traffic using the Sixaxis pad's motion controls.

The stage's climax came with one final, long rail slide, during which Ratchet had to jump from rail to rail to dodge trains, leap across gaps created by an enemy flying saucer and dodge lasers from an alien gunship that just happened to have its guns placed perfectly parallel to the three rails Ratchet could jump between. Finally, Ratchet came under attack by a bunch of chaingun-toting alien walkers, at which point he learned that he was the real target of the attack on Metropolis. Just then, the gunship from earlier landed, and the level's apparent boss - a giant, Drophyd-piloted walker - slowly strode out. We say "apparent" boss, because that's the point at which the demo ended.

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