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Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack In Time

The ninth installment in the Ratchet & Clank franchise, A Crack in Time, is the most recent release and brings about the conclusion to the Future arc. This one picks up where Quest for Booty left off and sees Clank in the hands of Doctor Nefarious. Basically what happened was our little robotic buddy wound up being brought to the Great Clock by the Zoni. It left Ratchet all alone and on a quest to find his friend.

When A Crack in Time begins (while the game loads onto your system actually) the ever hilarious Qwark brings gamers up to speed on the events leading up to this point. In no time Ratchet springs into action and goes toe to toe with some of Nefariousí minions. The story is fairly engaging and it brings a lot of what was unknown about the series into focus. Clank gets his time to really shine in the Great Clock, it turns out that Ratchet may not be the only Lombax in the universe, and Qwark, well, heís just as goofy as ever.

Story aside, the real experience awaiting gamers in A Crack in Time stems from the seriesí staple gameplay. If youíve played one Ratchet & Clank game then you should already know what to expect. A myriad of weapons, both goofy and destructive, awaits gamers along with tons of platforming, some awesome gadgets, and plenty of action. A Crack in Time kicks the experience up a notch by making Clank so much more than a sidekick.

Admittedly Iíve never been the biggest Clank fan. Iíve always felt he kind of stood in the sidelines and never really met up with the level of cool that came from playing as Ratchet. This game changes that somewhat and gives Clank some really cool abilities. His sections of the game stand out with loads of time controlling mechanics and puzzles that force you to really use your noggin. Basically Clank has the power to create a temporal clone of himself to stand on switches and advance through certain roadblocks. There are other armaments as well and they go a long way to make the character more than just a sidekick.

As great as the Clank sections are, the majority of A Crack in Time will be spent in the furry shoes of Ratchet. For the most part he plays exactly like fans will recall. Wielding his trusty wrench Ratchet breaks boxes and turns cranks. Even better is the selection of weapons that make themselves available as one progresses through the game (Mr. Zurkon for the win). The variety is daunting and there isnít a stale gun in the bunch. Even familiar items feel fresh, especially once you start going through the gratuitous amounts of upgrades. Thereís literally no stone unturned with some of the improvements you can make, and even better is the fact that weapons power up the more you use them.

The shooting and combat elements stand out as a blast (no pun intended) and there are plenty of bosses to take down, but A Crack in Time is also equal parts platformer. To that end this game offers up a traditional Ratchet & Clank experience as well. Getting around the environment requires lots of perfectly time jumps and the use of some support equipment. My only beef with this part were some stages where death is almost a given until you figure the pattern out. There's some trial and error in parts and you'll fall to your death more than you'd care to admit. Still, the game is rewarding and getting past these tougher segments gives a definite sense of accomplishment.

The game opens things up even further by offering the universe for you to explore once your ship has been repaired by some Zoni. It's easy to fly between planets, land, and start exploring. Getting to new worlds and unlocking new chapters is very enjoyable and will keep players coming back for more until they unravel the mystery of the Great Clock. All these elements come together to make this the best Ratchet & Clank experience on the PlayStation 3. It may not rewrite the concept, but it sticks with its guns and truly feels like an homage to earlier installments.

It also doesn't hurt that the game looks fantastic as well. While not quite cutting edge in terms of high definition detail (like Uncharted 2), A Crack in Time does offer some jaw-dropping moments. The environments are massive, it looks like a cartoon come to life, and all throughout the designs are quite charming. When put into motion this game is smooth and the framerate never dips, no matter how much is going on at that point in time. I think the biggest, most important thing that one can say about this title is that it is completely engrossing. While there may be some jagged edges and some textures don't look 100%, you can't help but be drawn into it.

Likewise the audio package here is stunning. Stellar voice acting, immersive sound effects, and a great soundtrack make this one stand out. Fans of the franchise will recognize all the voices and newcomers will undoubtedly be impressed by the amount of personality the cast squeezed into the cut scenes. Even Qwark's one-liners and Mr. Zurkon's ramblings stand out on their own. Great stuff all around!

While it doesn't reinvent the wheel, A Crack in Time is definitely the best entry for Ratchet & Clank on the PlayStation 3. It's inventive with its approach to telling its story and Clank really gets his moments to shine. Naysayers who stood against the robotic sidekick will be eating crow here, and that's definitely a selling point. This entry is great for newcomers and veterans alike, and there're plenty of reasons to keep playing long beyond the first time through. Collecting items, unlocking stuff, and upgrading weapons will keep hardcore gamers coming back for more. Highly Recommended!