Ratchet & Clank: A Crack in Time PlayStation 3
Published by: Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Developed by: Insomniac Games
Whilst several of Sony's key franchises have yet to appear on the PlayStation 3, the same cannot be said about the Ratchet & Clank series. Ratchet & Clank: A Crack in Time is the third game in the series to grace Sony's latest console and it's arguably the finest game in the series to date. It's not as deaf gamer friendly as it could have been however and deaf gamers are going to miss out on a lot of dialogue. In many respects however, it encapsulates everything that made the series the success it has been.
A Crack in Time completes the storyline that began back in Tools of Destruction and continued in Quest for Booty. That's not to say you need to have played those games to enjoy what A Crack in Time has to offer. The story so far is shown at the start of the game, bringing you up to speed with the events. Clank is being held captive, in The Great Clock, by Dr. Nefarious and a race known as the Zoni whilst Ratchet is hopping from planet to planet in an effort to find him. During the course of the game you'll switch between playing as both characters with Clank handling the puzzles and Ratchet being focused on the hectic action sequences. Ratchet does have a companion from time to time but even so, he has to rely on his impressive arsenal of weapons to sort out the varied list of enemies that he'll encounter on the path to rescue Clank. It should also be mentioned (although no specific details mentioned for sake of spoiling anything) that several key questions are answered in A Crack in Time concerning both Ratchet and Clank with regards to both their past and future.
Several things in A Crack in Time can be upgraded. Weapons can be levelled up (to level 5) and customised to make them suit your preferred style of play. There are even some new weapons on offer to bolster Ratchet's arsenal such as the Cryo-Bomb Glove, Plasma Striker and Sonic Eruptor. Even the spacecraft that takes Ratchet from planet to planet can be customised. Incidentally you will have to engage in some space combat during Ratchet's travel between the planets. The combat is lacklustre and feels more of a chore than anything else, which is odd as the combat in other areas of the game is as impressive as it's ever been in a Ratchet & Clank title. Ratchet will eventually acquire a pair of hover boots which allows him to both fly high and travel around on the planet's surface much more quickly than on foot. It's a great addition as it makes exploring your surroundings a lot less time consuming.
Whilst playing as Clank isn't as hectic as when you're controlling Ratchet, it's certainly as enjoyable. Clank does have his share of platforming to perform and a much smaller amount of combat to deal with but the most interesting aspect of playing as Clank is the puzzle solving. Clank has acquired some time control abilities and he's now able to make recordings of himself and use these recordings to assist him in solving a number of puzzles. The puzzles require some thought but they are enjoyable and help to freshen up the traditional Ratchet & Clank game-play.
Ratchet & Clank titles have always been great looking games and A Crack in Time is no exception. The character designs and animations are as impressive as ever and the wide range of environments in the game are as vibrant and well designed as in any of the previous games in the series. The game's cut scenes are as visually impressive too and really add to the experience. There are frame rate dips during the course of the game but there's nothing here that's problematic.
When you first load the game you are asked if you want the subtitles to be enabled which makes a really nice change. I have to be honest and say that gave me the impression that the game was going to cater nicely for deaf gamers but sadly that isn't really the case. Yes the game's cut scenes and vitally important dialogues are subtitled but there's a heck of a lot of speech, some of which is quite useful and a lot of which gives the game it's special sense of humour, that isn't subtitled and deaf gamers are going to be completely oblivious to this. Still, tutorial messages and objectives are shown in text. Objectives can be recalled at any time by pressing the start button.
Fans of the Ratchet & Clank series will definitely enjoy what Ratchet & Clank: A Crack in Time has to offer. It's almost everything that fans of the series could ask for. I say almost because it's not quite as good as it could have been. The lack of any multiplayer modes and the rather flat space battles do harm the experience a little and the lacklustre subtitling, which leaves a lot of the dialogue not subtitled, mean the game isn't as deaf gamer friendly as it could have been and that's a real shame. Niggles aside however, A Crack in Time can be regarded as an essential purchase, especially as the storyline answers a variety of questions for both characters.