I’m back from my futuristic endeavor to bring you the next item from the Box Of Many Things. This time I took a gander at the Ratchet and Clank series and I have to say this was one hell of an adventure. Now the series in its entirety would take a good summer’s worth if I lost my job and fiance but luckily the box only contained three titles: Ratchet & Clank (PS2), Ratchet & Clank: Tools of Destruction (PS3), and Ratchet & Clank: A Crack In Time (PS3). Unlike other sci-fi settings, the Star Wars universe for example, technology in these games gets amazingly creative and advanced as they progress. You play as the lone Lombax, Ratchet, with his ever faithful robotic sidekick Clank. Together you face the biggest threat to the galaxy at the time, using an arsenal of kick-ass weapons and tactical devices to bring them down and save the day.
Starting with the original PS2 classic, Ratchet & Clank; yes, the graphics are a bit dated but for its time you still appreciate what they accomplished (and how far we’ve come). The game does a great job introducing you into this world of technology and its sci-fi atmosphere. You will tell right off the bat that this was meant for a younger crowd seeing how fast you get through the puzzles and enemies with minor difficulty. It’s great to be rewarded in-game when even the most minuscule amounts of logic are applied. The extent of puzzle-solving involves mostly diverting from the set path to find a wall of crates to smash to find collectable items. The game encourages you to explore and enjoy the fundamentals of gaming which again is what makes this a childhood must. You go through the game trying to stop some evil tyrant from taking over the galaxy and picking up hints on each planet that lead you to him. There is a lot of jumping around if you want to take advantage of all the armor upgrades and purchasable weapons they offer. You do have the option of speed running the game for the sake of beating it but the game does its best to tempt you to do otherwise. The whole purpose of the Ratchet & Clank series is the technology. Using the vast array of weapons to smash, cut, or blow up your enemies is the core of the series and it is definitely an enjoyable experience. The series could have been left on the shelves of time as an all-time great, but the developers had bigger plans for it.
Skipping ahead to the PS3 format, we are open to high definition gaming and a lot more room to play. You now have wireless controllers, the Six-Axis control system, and a bigger demographic to impress. In Ratchet & Clank: Tools Of Destruction you start out with a lot of familiar weapons from the first game, as well as some new equipment such as grind shoes. Right from the beginning you feel like Han and Chewy on another wacky adventure as an invading army occupies the planet you are currently on. Minutes before they arrive you are innocently working on an internal combustion engine. Then shit gets real and you’re hurled into action with lasers flying back and forth and buildings collapsing around you.
Not only have the graphics taken a leap forward but this game feels like it grew up with you. Enemies are harder, puzzles and more challenging, one-liners feel a little more mature. It felt like Ratchet and Clank had all of this waiting for you to stumble upon. Tools Of Destruction lives up to its name with guns big enough to make a Doom developer blush. You get to mess around with electro-mag-nets (literally), flame throwers, energy enhanced razor blades, and a few shiny disco balls. I couldn’t get enough of these new weapons. With a three page arsenal you pretty much need to beat the game and go back in challenge mode to truly get your fill of these awesome weapons.
In Ratchet & Clank: A Crack In Time, they really took advantage of plot and puzzles. At this point you know what havoc can be caused from blowing everything thing to kingdom come, now you get to use all new tools to bend reality and take on some interesting challenges. One new mechanic to the series is a device called the chronosceptor. Before, you used Ratchet’s famous wrench to fight enemies and unlock new parts of maps. With the chronosceptor you can still fight off enemies but you can also control time by slowing it down or manipulating it to solve puzzles. The game focuses a lot around Clank and his mysterious destiny but Ratchet gets a lot more face time with his new companions.
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Once thought to be the last of his kind, Ratchet is teamed up with another Lombax by the name of Alister Azimuth. Azimuth wants to bring back the Lombax race and of course Ratchet tags along but when Clank gets taken away they need to team up to get him back and discover a bit of their own destiny along the way. What’s great about the plot is how well it flows from game to game. The series is very long with a good ten games, not including some of the spin off games that feature Ratchet and Clank, you get to watch Ratchet evolve with his circle of friends and enemies. Ratchet starts out being thrown into the hero position but quickly accepts the role but doesn’t so much become a defender of the galaxy but a would be hero in search of answers about his past. The games can be as long as you want them to be, based on how much time you invest upgrading and hunting down extra content in the game. They can become tedious but the pay off of watching things explode and your plans coming together are worth it in the end.
As I continue through the Box Of Many Things I only gain a greater respect for gaming and the joys I missed out on as a kid. Everyone has their favorites growing up and stuck to the games they knew but if the Box has taught me anything it’s to share with everyone how great it is to put down what’s popular right now and dig up some gems of the past. It’s a shame to pass up these titles, granted not all of them are going to be great but I am having a fun time playing them and that’s what counts.
Up next in the BOMT: Ninja Gaiden Sigma