Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Final Instalment in the Future Series is Another Strong Outing for Ratchet and Clank

Quick Note: If you're not a fan of the series there's nothing here for you. But if you enjoy the games or want to enjoy a great 3D platformer with a solid combat system, pick this game up immediately. 

Since the original released in 2002, I've been playing Ratchet and Clank. I love 3D platformers, and Ratchet and Clank has always been enjoyable, with strong combat focused on unique weapons and a deceptively interesting lore. One of my fondest gaming memories has to be playing Going Commando in high school on mute while blaring the 311 Greatest Hits CD, and to this day I have to play the series with some form of rap rock or beach music in the back ground. Needless to say, I'm a fan. And despite the experimental nature of the past two games in the franchise, Into the Nexus is the perfect cap for the duo before we all turn in our PS3's for the next generation. 

Into the Nexus is a more traditional Ratchet and Clank that takes place after A Crack in Time. The game picks up with the pair helping Zephyr and Cronk export the dangerous criminal Vendra Prog to her prison in the Vartax Detention Center when her brother Neftin Prog assaults the transport ship. After narrowly escaping, the dynamic duo finds themselves in a haunted quadrant of the galaxy. The tone for the game is slightly darker than past iterations, delving into horror tropes to keep you on your toes. This change in pace is quite refreshing and helps to differentiate the game from it's larger and better recognized predecessors. Despite this unique twist on the typical Ratchet and Clank story telling, the storyline is by far the weak point of Into the Nexus, ending with a whimper rather than a bang.

The best part about Into the Nexus, though, is it's return to form of the older games. Ratchet and Clank gather weapons as they explore worlds and beat baddies into submission. Combat is as tight as ever, and new weapons like the Nightmare Box and higher difficulty settings like the Legendary setting keep the game refreshing from start to finish. I especially like the new touches with upgrades, revolving around both combat experience as well as a grid system that uses raritanium and requires you to surround special grid pieces to unlock special abilities for each weapon. Each weapon still has a final upgrade, which changes it's form and adds a special ability to help improve the weapon even further. I especially love the introduction of the Zurkon Family as Mr. Zurkon's final upgrade ("Mr. Zurkon doesn't need bolts. His only currency, is pain.").

Other older inclusions have been brought back as well, such as the Jet Pack attachment, which adds aerial combat into the mix for some great, off the walls shoot outs. Arena battles also make a return with some interesting challenges to tackle, both inside and out of battle. There's even a level that requires collecting a specific item (horns in this iteration) by exploring an open landscape and battling hundreds of creatures, just like the older PS2 games. These were some of my favorite time wasters in the original trilogy and it's nice to see them come back, especially since it's a more condensed experience than in the past. This game has basically taken all the best aspects of the franchise and fused them into a smaller, bite sized but potent game, and I love everything about that.

To make up for it's short length, there is a challenge mode to play through the game again with everything from your first run carried over. This also comes with a bolt multiplier that slowly builds up to x10 as long as you don't take a hit from your foes. There's also an added Platinum round to the Arena battles for those with a brave heart and enemies are generally tougher overall. Omega weapons also become available to buy, allowing you to upgrade your arsenal to ridiculously powerful proportions. There's nothing more satisfying than aiming the RHYNO at a boss and tearing it to pieces in three seconds flat.

Despite the shorter length and the lackluster ending, Into the Nexus is everything I want in Ratchet and Clank: it's fun, tight combat and platforming with enough refreshing touches that I want to come back again and again. Even after obtaining the Platinum, I feel like I will be back again for some more of the galaxy's most famous duo. I highly recommend Into the Nexus for fans of the series or anyone who enjoys a good 3D platformer.

9.5 out of 10

Here Are Some Links:

The Game Home Page

The IGN Review

The Wiki Page

The Metacritic Page

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