Ratchet and Clank Nexus was released last Friday as the final PlayStation 3 entry for Insomniac’s popular series. It follows on from Tools of Destruction, Quest for Booty and A Crack in Time and actually offers a free downloadable copy of Quest for Booty too in case you missed this smaller game when it was originally released back in 2008. Ratchet and Clank Nexus, while longer than Quest for Booty, is still a short game when compared to Tools of Destruction or A Crack in Time but its cheaper price of €29.99 reflects this.
You start the game transporting a dangerous criminal Vendra to prison when her twin brother Neftin Prog launches an attack with the help of Thugs 4 Less and breaks her free. From here Ratchet and Clank give chase in order to stop the twins’ plans and bring them to justice. The plot is pretty basic and doesn’t really do anything to further the back stories of Ratchet and Clank in the way the previous games have but it is still well written and filled with humour. At one stage in the game you need a new jetpack upgrade to proceed which by coincidence is the top prize in a fighting tournament currently being held. Even the villains describe it as an “oddly specific” prize.
The gameplay feels just the same as previous entries, if you’ve played one of the other games then you’ll know just what to expect and will immediately feel familiar with the controls. As Ratchet you have access to an ever increasing amount of weapons with which to fend off robots and aliens. New weapons can be bought with bolts, the games currency that you gather by smashing boxes and defeating enemies. The weapons can be upgraded with Raritanium that is hidden throughout levels and again can sometimes be found when you win fights.
Some weapons make a return and there are some great new additions too. You can use the old Warmonger to fire explosive rockets or you can try the new Winterizer. This plays Christmas music while turning attackers into snowmen which you can break open for presents wrapped with a bow. This variety is what Ratchet and Clank does best, what other game lets you destroy your enemies with the power of Christmas? Sadly the Groovitron was not to be found, it gets its own room in a museum demonstrating it but I never got to add it to my arsenal. The good news is my personal favourite Mr. Zurkon is back and he brought the whole family with him. Mr. Zurkon doesn’t need bolts, his currency is pain but Zurkon Jr. doesn’t need bolts either, he has an allowance of CARNAGE. Mrs. Zurkon…well she looks like a nightmare from The Jetsons.
In A Crack in Time you had to take control of a ship and fly through space shooting down other ships and finding another planet to visit. This gameplay section doesn’t come back in Nexus, the planets you can visit are shown on a map and you are automatically brought to the planet you select on it.
Ratchet doesn’t have all the fun, Clank has his own levels to explore in another dimension. Rifts can be found in certain areas letting Clank access the Netherverse. Here he can manipulate gravity to travel through these 2D side scrolling levels. The objective is to get to the end of a level and wake up a netherbeast that chases you back to the start of the level so that Clank can escape and fix the rift. Each one of these levels are great fun to play and increase in difficulty each time keeping you on your toes. I only wish there were more of these levels to play through.
As I’ve already mentioned, this game is much shorter than the other two main entries but there are enough challenges within the game to keep you occupied if you aren’t ready to stop playing when the credits roll. Initially you can choose to play easy, normal or hard modes but after you’ve played through the story a new option ‘challenge mode’ opens up. This lets you bring along your bolts, weapons and findings from your first playthrough to face this harder mode. The level cap on your weapons in this new mode will go from level three to level six, letting you power them up even more. This isn’t the only extra available; the game offers specific challenges and rewards you with a skill point for each one you overcome. This could be to defeat a particular enemy using only a certain weapon or to destroy all the breakable glass windows on a planet. Completing these lets you spend the skill points on cheats or concept art and keeps you busy long after getting all the Trophies on offer.
Ratchet and Clank Nexus is a fun game with varied levels and fans of the series won’t be disappointed with the gameplay. I’m almost jealous of newcomers getting to experience the brilliant and bizarre weapons for the first time. Where players may feel dissatisfied is with the length of it and the plot. With the cost of the game being €29.99 I can’t fault the length of the game but it is a shame that the plot wasn’t a bit more ambitious than just feeling like filler.
I’d be happy to see a more complete entry to the series be released on the PlayStation 4 or Vita but until then we have the Ratchet and Clank movie to look forward to.