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Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack In Time Review – Learning To Love PlayStation

Let’s get it out of the way. Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack In Time, released
in late 2009 for the PS3, is now my favorite of the Future series. It’s arguably the biggest step forward for
the series since Going Commando on the PS2, and competes with that title for my overall
favorite Ratchet game. Unfortunately it has a few misteps that I
feel hold it back and may harm its perception long term, but we’ll touch on tha as we go
along.par tab We’ll start with the plot. Clank, as we learned in Quest For Booty, has
been trapped by Dr. Nefarious in The Great Clock in the center of the universe (give
or take 50 feet). Nefarious is looking to gain control of time,
and Clank is the key to succeeding with his plan. As it turns out, Clank is the…son of Orvus,
a Zoni that loves awful jokes, and the creator of The Great Clock. Yeah, I guess back when Clank was created
on Quartu, Orvus gave him a Zoni soul and installed a program of himself into Clank…that’s
uhh…you know what, I’ll allow it. If we gotta massage Clank’s origin story some,
I’m just glad it’s with something that tells terrible jokes. Anyway, Nefarious uses a device that puts
the great clock and Zoni into disarray, allowing Clank to escape from his trap. Ultimately Nefarious caused too much damage
to the area, and before making an escape, Nefarious’ butler Lawrence immobilizes Ratchet.par
tab Meanwhile Ratchet is still on the hunt for Clank, with Qwark of all people by his
side. Their ship is hit by strange energy, causing
them to crash on a planet inhabited by creatures called Fongoids. Get used to these things because they are
all over this game, nyarf. It’s here that they meet up with the Fongoid
chief, who says he knows a way to fix Ratchet’s ship with the power of the Zoni, introducing
the gameplay element of forced Zoni capture which you can guarantee I’ll touch on later. After a return to the Fongoid village, they
find that they are being invaded by a force led by Lord Vorselon, who has mistaken Ratchet
for another Lombax called Azimuth. Whoaaa but waaaait Ratchet is the last Lombax
abwhaaa?par tab So after freeing the Fongoids from Vorselon,
Qwark gives Ratchet intel about where to find Azimuth, and upon meeting Azimuth tries to
kill Ratchet thinking he’s a hologuise sent to kill him. Azimuth just happens to be a wanted Lombax
stowing away on this planet, and can’t believe there’s another Lombax alive, let alone the
son of his close friend Kaden. After a little talk about The Great Clock
and needing to find Clank, Azimuth agrees to help Ratchet. par
tab Phew, usually I’ve covered a plot by now. Would you believe that this is only the first
few hours of the game? I skimmed over the plot pretty heavily in
my Tools of Destruction video, but I got some feedback from you all on Twitter that more
heavy plot summaries are preferred. So from here on out if you’d like to avoid
spoilers, skip ahead to TIME MARK in the video. par
tab So meanwhile Clank is revived by Sigmund, a timid yet enthusiastic robot who is the
junior caretaker of the great clock. Sigmund takes Clank to a mnemonic chamber
where Clank meets with the Orvus program in his head, who reveals that he left The Great
Clock to Clank to take care of, which is why the Zoni abducted him in Tools of Destruction. Clank gets a fancy spear and is warned by
Orvus that the great clock isn’t meant to be used as a time machine, only a device to
help keep time in line.par tab All while this happens, Nefarious calls
in some troops called The Valkyries, who kind of look like Helga, but apparently there’s
no relation. Huh. Ratchet and Azimuth set out to locate another
Obsidian Eye to communicate with Clank and track his location, and Azimuth spills the
beans about the Lombax’s downfall, citing being approached by an inventor who would
turn on their species, that inventor being Emporor Tachyon of course. As it turns out, Ratchet’s father Kaden warned
Azimuth not to trust Tachyon, but Azimuth graned Tachyon access to all of the Lombax’s
technology and secrets, granting him the key to form his own army and wreak havoc. This puts Ratchet in the unfortunate position
of traveling with the person responsible for the downfall of his kind, but being unaware
of the dangers of using The Great Clock for time manipulation, he goes along with Azimuth’s
plan to turn back time. par
tab Speaking of time manipulation, let’s hurry things along here. Ratchet and Azimuth get ahold of Clank, who
tells them to head to Zanifar to help Orvus by way of a time portal that had opened there. It turns out that Nefarious and Lawrence crash
landed there a few years prior and brainwashed the Fongoids into believing they were their
saviors. Naturally Ratchet undoes this, while sneaking
in a little damage to Nefarious, but is unable to help Orvus. Ratchet then hears from Vorselon that he’s
captured Azimuth. So Rachet rescues Azimuth. Frankly, Vorselon is pretty great at capturing
people…and pretty shitty and keeping them captured. par
tab Back to Clank, he visits his subconscious again and meets…The Plumber, the series’
running gag. The Plumber says he must’ve taken a wrong
turn since he meant to wind up in Qwark’s brain, and tells Clank rather randomly that
he “wouldn’t risk any more than 6 minutes”, which we’ll keep in mind because that…winds
up becoming a major plot point…from a running gag character…in a main character’s subconscious,
I…uhh…yeah…let’s…let’s just get back to that when it’s time, pun intended.par
tab But it turns out that Nefarious was back and had immobilzed Clank and Sigmund, just
as Qwark arrives at his base in a nurse’s outfit. Meanwhile Azimuth lets Ratchet know that he’s
picked up a distress signal that just happens to match Clank’s unique signature, on a planet
called…Vapedia…teehee. It turns out the Valkyries were there waiting
to ambush Ratchet, and that the distress call had been faked by Nefarious. It turns out that Clank was here anyway though,
and as Ratchet defeated a Valkyrie named Cassieopeia, he grabbed Clank and rescued him. Clank forgives him for not being able to save
Orvus, and explains to Ratchet that using the great clock to undo the Lombax’s history
would be dangerous, putting Ratchet in a tight spot between listening to Clank, or Azimuth’s
pleas to right his wrongs. Azimuth winds up leaving them as our duo sets
off to fight Nefarious. par
tab The two follow a plan put forth by Qwark to infiltrate Nefarious’ base, but ultimately
are caught by Nefarious, who flings them away on a slingshot. It…makes more sense in the game. They crash land at Gimlick Valley, where they
once again use a time portal to help turn the tides of a Fongoid battle and help procure
themselves a ship through the power of plot convenience. Seriously, they travel 10 years back, ask
for a ship as a favor for their help, then…before getting the ship they ask for they jump 10
years forward and just ask to borrow a ship anyway? It winds up being a ship they destroyed that’s
fixed up, but…huh? par
tab Anyway they get back to Nefarious, best him on top of one of his ships, and narrowly
avoid a auto piloted crash into his station. So Ratchet, Clank, and Azimuth wind up back
at the Great Clock to see Clank off to his new duty. Azimuth is still adamant about manipulating
time, however, and shoots Ratchet out of his way. Clank cuts him off and locks him from the
main chamber, then suddenly his memory reminds him of the plumber’s line about not risking
more than 6 minutes. So..Clank…turns time back a few minutes
and saves Ratchet from Azimuth’s blast. Leading Azimuth to make it to the main chamber
first and turn back time. Clank’s action here…saved time, admittedly,
but considering that Azimuth made it in it was kind of a dumb move…anyway as the great
clock starts to crumble, you face Azimuth as the final boss, in what’s admittedly a
pretty challenging fight. Ratchet eventually talks sense into Azimuth,
and Azimuth sacrifices himself to stop the time manipulation and save the great clock. With the threat stopped, Ratchet leaves Clank
to his duty for good…but Clank finds Orvus’ words that while he left the great clock for
Clank, h ewould much rather his son do what makes him feel whole, which is kinda sweet. Clank promotes Sigmund, who has proven incredibly
inept at stopping threats throughout the game, and jumps back into Ratchet’s ship for the
next adventure.par tab PHEW. This is why I don’t usually do plot summaries. Overall, A Crack In Time tells what is probably
the most engaging story in the series, even if game pacing gets in the way throughout
in the form of Zoni collection and don’t worry, I still plan on getting to that. It’s the story of a friendship that can stand
the test of great circumstance and trials, the story of one creature’s desire blinding
him to a disastrous outcome, and the story of Nefarious being an incredibly entertaining
villain despite incredibly shallow desires. It’s an interesting blend and feels like a
great payoff to what has been building since Tools of Destruction and Quest For Booty. It’s a bit fragile at points, like most time
travel stories, under scrutiny it falls apart some, but it’s a video game telling an engaging
story, not a perfectly written one. Coupling a more experienced way of story telling
with a much nicer presentation, seriously these cutscenes are a delight to watch, it’s
hard to not enjoy the ride Crack In Time offers. That said, if you strictly loved the goofier
tone of the PS2 titles, you may not enjoy the subtler humor and more serious tone of
Crack In Time. Personally I can’t tell which style I prefer,
I know Up Your Arsenal certainly made me laugh the most, but nothing in the PS2 games affected
my emotions the way certain points in Crack In Time did. That payoff with Orvus’ wanting Clank to follow
his dreams, as flimsy and corny as it is, just gets to me in a good way. Still, there are technical faults here. Like I alluded to, Nefarious is in it purely
for revenge against Ratchet, yet barely crosses paths with him, making him feel a bit inconsequential
along the journey. Yeah, it’s due to him that Clank was found
by the Zoni, I…I think, I just feel like you could remove Nefarious and still tell
a similar story. Have the Zoni locate Clank due to air quote
mystical powers, have Clank warn Ratchet and Azimuth about the dangers of using the great
clock much earlier on, and subsequently have Azimuth established as a villain much earlier
on. It would’ve been a stronger story to connect
with and like Azimuth, then have to brush against him in a race to the great clock. The actual end twist of Azimuth’s betrayal
doesn’t feel like it comes out of nowhere, but it does just feel like something that
happens because, well…we beat Nefarious but Azimuth is still around…eh have him
be headstrong and turn heel here just for a plot twist. Again, Nefarious was incredibly well written
and acted as per usual, he’s still my favorite Ratchet villain, but like I said in Tools
of Destruction. If they want to tell a more serious story,
I’m going to look at it a bit more seriously. ALL THAT SAID, though, I see myself playing
A Crack In Time again, and I’m sure I’ll enjoy the story the 2nd time around, and the 3rd,
and the 4th, so don’t get me wrong. par
tab What I may not enjoy so much on those replays, however, were some game design choices. Control-wise the game feels like a step up
from Tools of Destruction, with the platform manipulation that Quest For Booty brought
to the series. Ratchet feels great to control, and oh man,
this Omniwrench throw…I don’t know why it’s so addicting to do this but…damn…I just
can’t stop…Crack In Time also introduces its own elements, such as hover boots. These let you whisk around quickly, and give
you an option to hover since you’re not with Clank for a large portion of the game. Even better are some courses specifically
designed for use with the hover boots, which help add another fun, frenetic branch to this
series. Some small planets are specifically designed
to test your skills with these and taken on their face value, are pretty fun for what
they are. It’s hard to nail down exactly how Ratchet
feels better, it’s kind of like going from Going Commando to Up Your Arsenal, the tweaks
are very slight, but you can definitely feel them. Ratchet also gains some contextual gadgets,
the swingshot returns once again, but now Ratchet gains an Omnisoaker. Which is…pretty much like the hydrodisplacer
from early on in the series. This doesn’t add too much other than seeing
an area that needs liquid or oil, running to get it, thn coming back and shooting it. Hum.It kind of feels standard to say, but
Crack In Time doesn’t reach the high bar set earlier in the series for weapons, either. The tornado gun I found issue with in Tools
of Destruction is replaced with a weapon that can shoot a ball of energy controlled by the
six-axis, which works better but still doesn’t feel incredibly responsive. Other weapons like a belching blaster, a tesla
spike shooter and more get the job done, but don’t impress. Overall though, there are still a nice variety
of options ultimately. In Tools of Destruction you could add additional
upgrades through Raritanium found in levels, in Crack In Time, you find mods for a select
few weapons tucked away as collectibles. This gives you substantially less return for
your time investment versus the prior system, and ultimately you’ll probably just find one
mod you like and stick with it, which doesn’t feel as good as constantly upgrading your
weapon with resources. par
tab Clank, however, sees the biggest gameplay improvement. Back in my Tools of Destruction video I stated
that his gameplay felt like it was lagging behind Ratchet’s ever increasing flexibility. In this title, that is alleviated. Clank is still a bit sluggish, can’t take
many hits, and dishes out a basic combo attack, and he doesn’t have any robotic helpers or
Zoni. Instead what he has are brain teasing gameplay
portions involving the path plotting of multiple Clanks, in addition to some area of effect
bombs that can slow the flow of time. Basically you come to portions where there
are a few colored buttons. Standing on one and hitting Record allows
you to plot a path for a sort of projection of Clank. It will follow your exact movement, so you
can make a copied Clank stand on a switch to open a door for the actual Clank. For smarter folk, these sections were probably
a bit too easy, but I found them to be the perfect difficulty. I never felt like hitting my head against
a all with these, and while they stumped me some late in the game, I found what I needed
to do at a very brisk pace and really enjoyed these. I kind of wish Insomniac had released a small
game based on these elements, it was rather enjoyable. Clank also has some areas where you point
some lasers at a projection of a planet to fix time holes appearing around the galaxy. You only do these a few times and they’re
okay distractions from the main puzzle solving, but frankly they don’t hold a candle to Clank’s
main event. par
tab So, to get around the galaxy, we have space flight. It’s nothing more complicated than horizontal
direction, you can’t fly up or down, which is good but ultimately kind of a negative
too, when it comes to fights in space. Every now and then throughout the story you’ll
bump into aliens who want you dead, so you…kinda fly after them at an angle and shoot at them
to destroy them. You’ll get a certain number you have to destroy,
which knocks down the barrier so you can shoot at the main ship. Rinse and repeat. While I enjoy the simplified navigation, it
hurts the potential of the ship combat which was done better in prior titles. When not shooting at opposing factions, you
can stop by an arena and play a game based on Captain Qwark, or compete in combat arenas
much like prior titles. There are also a number of small planets with
challenging platform or combat requirements, which I like as a base idea. You even get a few radio stations to choose
from in each sector of the galaxy, interlaced with comedic quips from the radio hosts or
news updates from anchors. These ultimately boiled down to basic platforms
floating around in mid air, or just shooting a set number of enemies, but it was nice to
have a bunch of smaller areas to explore and obtain weapon mods and to collect Zoni.par
tab I guess I can’t dance around this criticism any longer. Scattered throughout these small planets,
and on larger planets, are the Zoni. Much like Gold Bolts in prior games, which
also make a return in Crack In Time, there are 40 to collect. Every few Zoni you collect actually provide
upgrades for your ship, which is neat. It’s a nice incentive to actually collect
them. However, larger planets required for story
progression are almost literally gated off until you collect certain amounts of Zoni. So, if you’re like me and really digging the
story and not wanting to veer off the main path too often, you’ll often find yourself
brushing up against a planet, being told you need to collect more macguffins to progress,
sighing, and distractedly checking your map to find out where you can collect more Zoni. Ratchet games haven’t really had to stoop
to this kind of artificial lengthening before, and it’s really disappointing to see it plague
a great title. This really hurts the pacing of the game,
and makes what would otherwise be fun extra content into forced adventures that distract
you when you’d rather be advancing the narrative. These neatly designed challenges become something
you dislike when you’re forced into doing them. This kind of thing can severely hamper other
games, take Sonic Unleashed for example, but thankfully Crack In Time is still so tightly
designed and charming that it’s just more of a nuisance than something you’ll come to
loathe. And to be fair with the example I mentioned,
in Sonic Unleashed you had to replay levels you’d been through to get the macguffins to
advance. In Crack In Time you can explore new areas
to get them.tabpar tab As I’ve alluded to, the presentation
in this game is very nice. The cutscenes and story are engaging, the
music is great, and the game looks very nice overall. The little scenes that play everytime you
acquire a weapon are especially endearing. This is the last mainline Ratchet to be 60
FPS so far, and from my time with Into The Nexus, I miss it already. It’s hard to find anything to nitpick about
the raw presentation. It’s just the cherry on top of a fantastic
game. I’ve had a few nitpicks with Crack In Time
obviously, but again it’s probably tied with Going Commando for my favorite in the series. It’s smart, funny, addicting, and all kinds
of other buzzwords I could tell you. There’s just a perfect balance of platforming
and combat in this game. If you’re still looking for a jumping on point,
with either the Future series or Ratchet & Clank in general, A Crack In Time is a great entry
to see this series hitting a stride. You’re caught up on the story thanks to Captain
Qwark while the game installs, so while it’s preferred that you start with at least Tools
of Destruction, you get enough info from the jump to know what you absolutely need to. This game comes highly recommended from me. This has been MykonosFan, thank you very much
for watching, and I’ll see you next time with Into The Nexus, on Learning To Love PlayStation.par
tabpar }

10 thoughts on “Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack In Time Review – Learning To Love PlayStation

  1. Let me know what you think of the story summary, especially if you voted for or against it in my Twitter poll! As you can see it resulted in a much more wholesome video, but if it's not working for anyone I'd love to take that into consideration. Thanks!

  2. Your main criticism is… strange. I only played this last November, but I never had to go searching for Zoni a single time, at least before going for Platinum trophy.

    The villain is one of the best written game villains i've ever seen. Honestly, I feel like removing Nefarious would ultimately water down the story, which is very gripping as it is and balances drama and comedy.

  3. I take the collecting in collectathons very seriously, so I always explored every single moon I could get to and do every single side mission. The radio stations added a whole level of enjoyability as you could pick your favorite style of music while exploring which can be really relaxing and even therapeutic on the sky high moving platforms section. During these section I personally love "Deep Space Jams". It's so cool to hear classic jazz in a futuristic setting, it reminds me of the Jetsons.

    That being said, my first play through of the game left me feeling unsatisfied. I felt the story was too short and could have been longer, especially since the compelling story is one of the strong points of this game. It was good, I just wanted more. Also there were't as many worlds to explore, maybe a half or even a third of the number in Tools of Destruction. You're review was great, I only wish you talked about the weapons a little more, like what you thought about the RYNO playing the 1812 overture.

    By the way I enjoyed your story summary, though you forgot to mention that Clank left before he could hear his father's final speech on how proud he was of him and how he wants him to do that which makes him feel whole. This makes the speech both heartfelt and heartbreaking at the same time, because Clank never heard it himself. "I hope you can understand" was his last words to his father, and he left before getting the answer that would have erased all doubt from his mind. Clank has a habit of doing that and it just makes the emotional moments more emotional. Remember the first game when Clank meets his mother again? "I'll try to make you proud mom," Clank says and then walks away. He doesn't see the words appear on his mother's screen: "You already have." The fact that they are just written, not spoken adds another degree to the feels. These scenes have the same concept of letters left behind by loved ones that have since past. Honestly those moments with Clank's Parents are some of my favorite in the Ratchet and Clank series.

  4. P.S. You should play "All 4 One". It is a lot better than most people give it credit for. I had a blast playing it solo, but I will admit it is a lot more fun playing with other people, be they friend or online strangers.

  5. I'm curious how you'll feel about the Clank sections in future playthroughs. My biggest problem with this game is these sections being forced as act breaks. I like a LOT about this game, the mostly nonsensical story notwithstanding, but my reward for playing these wonderful Ratchet sections are these (IMO) piss easy but fun Clank missions that only serve to break the pace and barely forward the plot. I really did love them at first, but now every time I beat two planets I just groan because I'm forced to walk at a snail's pace through inconsequential puzzles. Thankfully in future playthroughs you CAN skip them, but you still have to do basic platforming and tutorials until near the end of the game, and it's entirely unskippable. It's sacrificing gameplay for the sake of padding the length and making the story seem deeper than it is.

    I give the game a bit of a pass at times, because Quest for Booty sort of ruined this game's promise. (QfB was made to hopefully make the engine for CiT and actually save development time, but instead screwed them out of nearly half of CiT's initial development time.)

    Anyway, good review dude. I really like whatever music you chose here – is this some of the radio music from CiT, or is this just random music? Also, Iwill say that I think you may have missed that the Plumber did the same "save the day" thing in ToD when he gave Ratchet the 3 and 3/4 hex screw or whatever it was, which is the exact screw they need to fix the Dimensionator at the end of the game. It seems like you missed it at least, because it sounds like this is a first for you in this game. He gives sage advice in A4O as well, although not nearly as important, more of a tease to a plot twist.

  6. Man, I'm going to have to replay Going Commando at some point because I remember being very meh about it. The gameplay was way better than the first game but I think it was the lame story and ending that soured it for me.

  7. If you collect most of the Zonis on the planets themselves, you don't need to go to many of these moons. When I did runs where I didn't do the moons, I only needed to go to one in order to complete the game. And I think at least exploring some of them should be obligatory, as it is a feature that's part of the game. Wouldn't just let them go to waste.

  8. Crack in Time as much as i love it is the point were i got really sick of some of the weapons or more specifically how we had the weapons repeat (Combuster for example)

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