For the first time since the dreaded Deadlocked, Insomniac seems to be actively playing with the Ratchet & Clank template. The stupid amount of oddball weapons are still here – the Sonic Eruptor, for example, is a small frog attached to a gun that belches a mating call and is capable of shattering or stunning enemies – but it’s the core gameplay that’s being tweaked for the duo’s PS3 return. This latest sequel, A Crack in Time, is the third game in the PS3 story arc and continues from where Quest for Booty left off, with Clank having been kidnapped by the mysterious Dr. Nefarious and the Zoni, and Ratchet searching for answers.
The game is effectively split into two story arcs and two styles of gameplay. The Ratchet levels are familiar from Tools of Destruction and involve guiding the Lombax warrior to the level’s end. These are now more detailed than before, with a greater number of secret areas to discover. The primary way of finding new places in a level is by mastering Ratchet’s hoverboots. These can boost him along the ground for extra speed, can be linked with attacks and can also be used to grind rails and leap to higher sections. This Jet Set Radio and Sonic hybrid feels fresher than it should.
The playable level of A Crack in Time involved dusting off a Hydra tank mini-boss in a desert valley location. The Hydra tank shows Insomniac’s dedication to invention, as the machine has three mechanical heads that need to be destroyed one by one. First shoot the tank, then use Ratchet’s spanner to pull out one of the heads’ power cores to make it useless. Repeat twice for victory.
The main combat is as you’d expect from Tools of Destruction. The new weapons do their part to mask the cracks with a weird sense of invention – the sniper-like Plasma Striker can pick out an enemy’s weak spots and the Cryomine Glove can throw grenades that freeze enemies in their tracks. Using the Sonic Eruptor with a Cryomine will shatter the enemy. One new fun gadget is the Omnisoaker, which enables you to suck up any liquid in the game world and then fire it back out as a weapon or a distraction. So, using a dollop of Nectar will divert Teramites away from a door, enabling Ratchet to sneak by.