Ratchet and Clank have been all over the place--and I’m not just talking about the different planets they’ve traveled to. After defending the universe from power-hungry fools and dabbling in a few different genres, the galactic duo is back doing what they do best: running around, cracking jokes, and blowing things up. Into the Nexus feels a lot like classic R&C game and brings the series back to its roots. It’s not very innovative nor does it leave a long-lasting impression, but it’s a nice reminder of what made the series so much fun to begin with.
Keeping things simple, Nexus focuses on the iconic duo's attempt at saving the galaxy via third-person platforming and shoot-outs, eliminating much of the extra fluff introduced in recent games. This stripped down version works in delivering a fast-paced experience that's in line with what you’d expect from the series. Combat sections are quick and enjoyable (a good thing, considering you'll be doing a lot of shooting), and even when you’re not hurling explosives at enemies, Ratchet never slows down. You’ll walk up walls in anti-gravity sections, zoom through swamps on hover boots, and fly around in your stylish jetpack. The varied movement is fun and keeps the action humming at a steady pace.
Ratchet’s arsenal also keeps things fresh, featuring both classic and new weapons that are as inventive as ever. The Winterizer, for example, plays a festive rendition of “Jingle Bells” as it turns enemies into Snowmen, which, as it turns out, are fun to unbuild by way of smashing them with the OmniWrench. Of course, classics like Mr. Zurkon are back but have received some nice new upgrades that provide even more options in battle.
Nexus occasionally shifts gears, featuring some neat 2D side-scrolling levels starring Clank. Gravity plays a big role here, as you need to change its flow to guide him in and out of interdimensional Netherverse mazes. These sections provide a nice breather amidst all the action, and offer a more puzzle-like approach gameplay. It’s a shame they aren’t that frequent, and there's not much variety to speak of. On top of all that, figuring them out is a cinch.
Progress is mostly linear and story-driven, but Nexus does retain some elements from recent games that work to make this adventure even more enjoyable. You can hop into your ship and fly to a previously explored planet, for example, and complete any secondary objectives or collect things you might have missed. There’s lots of stuff to find, and the return of Challenge Mode (a fancy name for New Game +) adds to the replayability by letting you start a new game on a harder difficulty while retaining all your upgraded equipment. A deathmatch arena featuring waves of enemies and hazards is also included, but it’s rather short and isn’t that challenging--though all the heckling from spectators makes it worth checking out. Ever wondered what burnt Lombax smells like? You’ll soon find out.
To add to all its thrilling moments, clever cutscenes and voiceovers always fill you in on what’s going on, and the usual blend of comedy and action makes it hard not to laugh at times. Expect sexual innuendos and crude humor, though a slightly darker tone also ties in nicely with themes of homesickness and isolation, providing a nostalgic reminder of Ratchet’s past struggles and tough decisions.
Think of Nexus as the end of an adventure, a tying of loose ends after years of games on the PlayStation 3. Unfortunately, this well-crafted adventure ends too abruptly and doesn’t give our heroes complete closure. Some serious moments of reflection let you feel for Ratchet and his friends, but are then brushed off and forgotten. At one point, you travel through a museum that highlights some major victories and characters in the series, but they don’t provide any major significance in the story. Nexus’s conclusion is weak and its cliffhanger ending only seems to exist to build up momentum for future adventures.
Nexus only lasts about five hours. Yeah, it’s pretty short, but those are some good five hours that’ll remind you of why you fell in love with Ratchet and Clank in the first place. Its $30 / £20 price tag makes it a great incentive to pick it up, and it delivers what you’d expect from the series. Nexus may not be the most conclusive of the Ratchet and Clank titles, but it is a (mostly) charming sendoff to years of PS3 gaming.