Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction Preview
We've already seen some of the best games of the year arrive - Heavenly Sword, Warhawk and Bioshock are all awesome - and more top-notch titles are still to come. One of the most anticipated is just about a month away, and it's bound to be one of the most popular games of the year: Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction marks the charismatic duo's first foray into the new generation, and it looks great. There's a playable demo slated to appear on the PlayStation Store on October 4, but we had some good news a few days ago. As it turns out, if you pre-order the game at GameStop/EB, you get the Blu-Ray copy of the demo! So of course, we just had to take advantage of that, and see how Insomniac's attitude-laden action/platformer is shaping up.
You play through the first level of the game, which starts off with your typical tête-à-tête between our two favorite intergalactic heroes, Ratchet and Clank. The CGI is downright gorgeous, as this is the first time we're actually seeing tiny individual strands of yellow hair on Ratchet's face. The environment is extremely colorful and beautifully designed as well, which isn't really surprising, considering this has always been a strong point of the R&C titles. And hey, we gleaned that just from the opening video, which has Ratchet bein' all cocky and Clank questioning and wisecracking as usual. Captain Quark is clearly under some major distress, and it's up to the dastardly duo to save the day once again. But they don't give away too much about the story; all we really know is that there are some "heavily armed" robots and they're getting awfully hostile...for some reason.
So after a spectacular crash landing - Clank told you those thrusters weren't working, Ratchet - the pair begins yet another adventure, filled with plenty of electronic-oriented enemies and more elaborate dangers than ever before. In addition to your trusty wrench, you also have access to four weapons throughout the demo, and two of them are just downright hilarious. Fans of the franchise will certainly recognize the Combuster (it's your basic blaster gun that can hold up to 100 shots) and the Fusion Grenade V1 (it's a grenade - duh - that you can aim into a group of enemies). But there are two new ones the developers wanted us to see, and they'll bring a big smile to your face. The first is the Transmorpher, which automatically hones in on enemies and, if successful, turns them into nonthreatening and oddly cute little penguins! Of course, you might feel a tad guilty swatting the crap out of those adorable flightless birds, but then again, it's your duty to prevail.
The second over-the-top weapon is the Groovitron, which is aptly named. When deployed, a miniature disco ball pops up into the air, spreading multicolored rays of rhythm over a certain range. Any enemies caught in that range start to "groove" to the Groovitron, thereby allowing you to attack them unimpeded. It's one of the funniest things we've seen in a game in a long time, and brought us back to the good ol' days of Michael Jackson's Moonwalker (remember getting all the zombies to dance, than watching them fall over dead?). You can experiment with all four of these unique weapons throughout the 15-minute demo, and before long, you'll immediately appreciate the accessible and solid control so often associated with the series. It's always easy to handle the camera and general movement with Ratchet, and even though we think the auto-targeting could be more refined, everything seems to be firing on all cylinders. In other words, this demo felt exactly like Ratchet and Clank, which in no way is a bad thing.
There were some very cool platforming elements, too. Yeah, it may only last about 15 minutes, but during that time, you'll be leaping about on some very cool "boost points," which are green and purple. It seems all you have to do is jump on the green ones to get transported to the next area, and you will automatically land on and leap off of the purple ones. There was some jerkiness during these leaps, but we assume that'll be ironed out for the final version of the game. Furthermore, you'll do some pretty serious rail grinding, and that includes the final sequence that has Ratchet dodging a massive enemy ship and flipping from rail to rail. You'll also have to avoid oncoming trains, too, which makes it even more intense. The process is very simple and a lot of fun, and in no way did it feel like a tacked-on gimmick. But it shouldn't be too shocking; this is exactly the kind of thing Insomniac does best, and it will work very well in the final product. So even though it's a short demo, you'll be sampling a lot of what will make this game great, despite the fact you're stuck with the same four weapons for the entirety of your play time.
Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction is scheduled to release on October 23, and based on what we saw in this demo, we're fully prepared to highly recommend it. ...of course, we were 99% prepared to do that before we played the demo, but now we're at full-on 100%. Well, 99.9%, anyway. Just get it. You won't be disappointed.
9/20/2007 Ben Dutka
|06/27/07||Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction||Arnold Katayev|