Ratchet and Clank: Tools of Destruction User Review
It is, like the entirety of the series before it, an action-platformer with a near perfect balance of those two key elements. The entire game is built upon a platforming base, and you will rarely go more than ten minutes without finding somewhere that you need to jump, or use one of the gadgets that you’ll come across in your journey to get somewhere else. But then, the world is populated by enemies, and these need to be overcome before you can progress any further. Thankfully, you are given a huge array of incredibly inventive weaponry, in concert with combat aide devices to get you through the levels. Whether it be standard shooting in the form of the Combustor, or controlling the very forces of nature with the Tornado Launcher it is hard to get bored. And when you are given every option to further upgrade your weapons at vendors scattered liberally throughout the galaxy, it adds a layer of depth that the game would otherwise feel slightly barren without.
Of course, it’s only logical that these upgrades do come at a price, and this is that of Raritanium. This is a special element dropped by enemies every now again, though you can also find chests of it at certain points throughout the game. This allows you to do extra damage, increase the area of effect, firing speed or ammunition capacity of each weapon, and when the paths are full, you get access to a special ability, which further improves damage. Working alongside this is a levelling system, for both weapons, which makes them stronger as they improve, and armour, which basically serves to give you more health.
Additionally, there is a third part of the game, though this is far less of a focus than the other two, and it is piloting your spaceship in interstellar dogfights. This is, without a doubt, the weakest element of the gameplay. There’s nothing bad about it per se, but it comes across as being overly simplistic. That being said, were it too much more complex, it would defeat the purpose of making the game with this particular style, as it would likely leave a child unable to progress through these sections, and this would be a mistake, given the very accessible nature of the title. Finally, there are three gadgets that you come across as you progress through the game, and these are all minigame facilitators, played primarily through the use of the Sixaxis controls. These work surprisingly well, and are a good demonstration of the capabilities of the technology, though the ‘flat’ that they have used is horizontal, as opposed to the natural lift that one uses when holding the controller. These can be mapped to the analogue sticks, but this doesn’t feel quite as natural.
The rest of the controls work just fine, though they aren’t without their issues. First of all is the camera, which can often work against the player due to its stiffness. You have full horizontal control, but the vertical control is extremely limited, and this will have an effect of the ability to judge the distances of some of the jumps. These are almost always well within the realm of possibility though, so it isn’t as problematic as it could be. On the other hand, you will occasionally face off against flying enemies, and this is where the camera issues become slightly more prevalent as the auto-lock has a tendency to not work as well against them. Speaking of which, it usually works outside of these few areas, so there is no real hardship in this.
Another small issue lies in the quick select menu. This is brought up using the Triangle button, and you can flick through the three folders with the front shoulder buttons. Again, the system here works well enough, but the weapons and devices seem as though they’re thrown into the menu willy-nilly. Yes, it is based upon the order in which you acquire them, and yes, you can reissue them in any way you like, but I didn’t find any set up I used to be exactly easy to acclimatise to. The final problem lies in the controls themselves which sometimes lag behind the inputs, and become, on rare occasions, completely unresponsive.
As mentioned though, the control layout is simple and intuitive, which certainly aids in attracting the intended youthful market. Jumping is performed with the X button, and tapping it again results in a double jump. Holding it down deploys Clank’s rotor blades, which allows Ratchet to glide a short distance. Using the jump button in concert with R2 allows for further or higher jumps to be used. Square is the button mapped for a melee strike, and both R1 and Circle fire your equipped weapon. Those are the most common buttons that will be used, and it works extremely well in most cases.
Every element of the sound is top-notch, and the only thing preventing it from attaining a perfect score is a small problem with the balancing. So yes, the ambient sounds of each of the worlds are largely fitting to it, and the music is also reflective of your surroundings in most cases. The voice acting is truly spectacular, and you can really feel the camaraderie between the actors playing Ratchet and Clank, as should be the case given the number of years that they’ve been working on the series. The voice acting of Emperor Tachyon in particular is a standout. Every line is delivered with a vengeful, yet comical tone, which sets him up as a delightful foil for Ratchet. The weapons usually sound underpowered, which is a real shame, but you quickly get used to this.
The visuals are gloriously colourful, which allows this game to stand out from the norm of this generation of bland, brown graphics, and the move away from realism is much welcomed. Environmental diversity is quite grand, ranging from metropolitans to vast landscapes and industrial areas. Unfortunately, these are often balanced amongst each other, leaving it to feel repetitive, and moreover, something about the backgrounds makes them feel bland. Perhaps it is that lack of realism, but there seems to be a lack of intricate detail in most areas. You will also notice a decided lack of smoothness about certain characters and objects, though this is easily forgiven.
Aside from this, the main characters are each well-designed, and the animation is more than satisfactory. Similarly, enemy designs are good and varied. All of this is held together with a rock solid frame rate with no real technical issues to plague the production, aside from the occasional incident of clipping.
The story isn’t really what you might expect from a game with the kind of cartoon aesthetic that Tools of Destruction has. I knew a little bit about the game before I started playing, but I expected it to be more like LBP and have a story that revolved primarily around offering a morality tale to children. It was foolish of me to expect this, knowing the pedigree of the game and the state of cartoons nowadays. It is aimed at an older audience that can be appreciative of deeper stories, but that doesn’t mean that it’s comparable to most adult oriented media. It is punctuated by silliness and genuine humour, as well as moments that can resonate with older gamers, so the appeal really is universal.
It begins with Ratchet and Clank on Planet Kerwan, with the former trying to fix his hover bike, while the latter offers snide, unhelpful remarks. An emergency distress signal from galactic ‘hero’ Captain Qwark interrupts them and they learn that the city has been invaded by an army of robotic commandos. The pair hightail it to the source of Qwark’s transmission where they are surrounded by the aforementioned army and introduced to its leader, Emperor Percival Tachyon, a megalomaniac that is the last member of his species, and his quest is to destroy Ratchet, though the reason for this isn’t made clear until later on in the game.
Realising that they’re outnumbered and overpowered, they manage to escape thanks to some fancy footwork, and what follows is a madcap race across the galaxy to discover more about Tachyon, his reasons and the fabled ‘Lombax Secret’.
This all spans roughly twelve hours, though you can get a lot more out of the game, if you so desire. This is because there are secrets hidden on every planet, these being holo-plans for a devastating weapon, gold bolts with which to buy extra character skins and gadgets to make the game a tad easier. In addition, there are a ton of Skill Points to find, some exclusive to certain planets. These unlock silly cheats and other things, such as trailers and weapon reskins, but it is addictive to hunt them out. After completing the game, you also unlock Challenge Mode, which basically offers a bolt multiplier to increase the currency you earn, which can later be exchanged to power up your weapons into their Omega modes.
I know that a lot of people have doubts about the appeal of a game like this, but as always, I implore you not to judge before trying. If you can look past the graphics, you’ll find a surprisingly deep, engaging and addictive game that is almost guaranteed to keep you smiling as you progress through the levels. That being said, it features one potentially fatal flaw, and that is a lack of challenge. This only enforces the idea that the game is very much suitable for children and casual gamers, but it shouldn’t be enough to turn off anyone interested in the experience.
As always, thank you for reading. May you find Peace, Happiness and Contentedness going forward in your lives. Until next time, PSXE.
This user review does not reflect the views of the PSX Extreme Staff.