Late to the Party: RATCHET & CLANK: ToD

We all love reviews- they give you an early sense of a game, comic, movie, or tv show, and let you know if it’s worth your time and hard earned money. Most reviews are for products that have just come out. What if you missed it, though? What if, like everyone sometimes, you were late to the party? This column is for you. For the gamer that’s still interested in that game from a year ago, you just never got around to picking it up. Maybe it’s in the bargain bin now, or a “greatest hit” that can be found at a reduced price or maybe you can get it on the cheap used at your local Gamestop. However you go looking for it, we’ll get you up-to-date right here.

Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction

From: Sony, Insomniac Games

Reviewed on: PlayStation 3 (Exclusive)

The "Ratchet and Clank" series has been a mainstay on Sony systems since the 2002 launch of the games on the PlayStation 2. When the PlayStation 3 hit, it was only a matter of time before the cat-man and his robot buddy would follow. Sure enough, in late 2007, they made their "next-gen" debut. Now this fall, the full-length sequel Ratchet and Clank Future: A Crack in Time has just launched. Before diving into the new game, however, I thought I'd finally check out its predecessor, now a "Greatest Hits" discount title.

Having missed the PS2 iterations, I didn't know what to expect coming into this title. The gameplay is a hybrid of traditional platforming dynamics, that is, running and jumping along a somewhat linear path to get from point A to point B, and shooting mechanics with a very wide variety of weapons.

While the enemies wind up pretty generic, with most falling into one of four categories, the game never gets boring. The huge variety of weapons coupled with the upgradability of them, allows for fun new strategies that can be discovered and alternated throughout. As quickly as one weapon becomes your absolute favorite, you'll find yourself switching to another and falling equally in love with that, ahem, tool of destruction. This mixture of platforming and shooting is handled ably by tight controls, though the lock-on aiming leaves something to be desired. There are also multiple motion-controlled sections, either for flying or for puzzle solving, that are fit into the game. None of these are ham-fisted, and they control pretty strongly, adding a unique component to break up the "defeat enemies, move on to next section" formula. Completists will have an especially fun time earning all of the upgrades, especially after beating the game once and restarting in challenge mode, opening several higher end upgrades.

The presentation of this game is what will truly suck in gamers of all types however. From the high-quality cartoony graphics to goofy one-liners and real friendship dynamic between the titular characters, there is always something exciting happening on screen. It opens the game up, allowing you to experience more than just the action and instead experience a true total package. The dynamic, cgi-movie quality to the game shows how a combination of all-ages friendly atmosphere and adult-oriented gameplay can work to make a more full game for all.

For PS3 gamers on a budget this holiday season, the Greatest Hits line can be a good place to look for games you may have missed. Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction provides several hours (a good 15-20 on your first playthrough alone, depending on how much exploring/upgrading you want to do) of fun for half the price of brand new titles and is worth the play even if you're not traditionally into platform games. The hybrid design makes something completely new, and offers a great and unique experience on this generation of consoles.

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