Since their adventures in the Shadow Sector in Deadlocked, our heroes have been enjoying some well deserved R&R. Ratchet has been pondering his origins, and his lonely life as the only known Lombax in the universe. Enter Emperor Tachyon, leader of a race of hideous insect-like creatures. He’s been obsessed with wiping out the Lombax for centuries and now he’s come for everyone’s favorite kitten of mass destruction. The Emperor attacks in the opening moments of the game, resulting in a spectacularly explosive introductory level that leaves our heroes stranded in the far-off galaxy of Polaris.
“One of the things we learned from Resistance: Fall of Man was that it’s really important to start your game off with a bang.” Ryan Schneider is the marketing director at Insomniac Games, the guys behind the Ratchet & Clank series. Ryan’s just finished revealing the latest version of the popular franchise (six games in five years, if you count the US-exclusive cell phone version, Going Mobile) at Sony’s Gamer’s Day event in San Diego, and he’s clearly excited about getting to show off the game to an audience for the first time. “The live demo went unbelievably well, didn’t it? We were really apprehensive about showing it because, apart from the trailer, we hadn’t shown any raw gameplay yet.”
Seeing the game in action, it’s easy to see why Ryan’s excited. It seems that the only reason that Resistance was so unrelentingly brown was because Insomniac was saving all their colors for Ratchet & Clank - the rainbow palette looks like the result of an explosion in an Play-Doh factory. While instantly recognizable as a Ratchet & Clank title, the jump from PS2 to PS3 has caused the needle on our pretty-o-meter to blast off the end of the scale. The alien worlds have always been imaginative, but never have they looked so alive - everything bursting with ambient detail. Trees gently sway, fireflies dart around, hundreds of hover cars clog the air and huge gears and wheels churn and turn constantly. But despite all this, the frame rate is smooth like peanut butter. For all the focus on Ratchet’s imaginative arsenal, it’s easy to forget how solid the underlying technology is too.