Focusing primarily on Ratchet, a furry creature who can perform acrobatics as well as he can wield ferocious weaponry, and occasionally his "death-bot" sidekick Clank, Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction employs a fairly simple combination of third-person platforming and shooting in a ratio of about 1:5. Ratchet is the last of a species called the Lombax, and the dastardly Percival Tachyon has set out to finally make the race extinct. The chase begins from the game's outset and takes the duo across a large array of varied planets, each with a particular theme and a number of challenges to overcome. The story is slightly juvenile, but no one goes into Ratchet and Clank expecting high-brow literature.
The gameplay itself is straightforward and accessible. Moments without explosions and mayhem are fairly infrequent; you'll find yourself taking up arms against a seemingly unending horde of foes in almost every scene. This would grow tiresome were it not for the game's RPG-like experience system, which allows you to level up both Ratchet and his weapons. Weapons can now be upgraded by spending a rare collectible substance to purchase spaces on a grid of interconnected hexagons, each of which adds something different to the weapon.
The weapon and device selection is perhaps the most significant feature of the title. Previous games in the series have featured a wide variety of creative weapons and devices that are a lot of fun to use and improve, and in that regard Tools of Destruction is no different. Some new favorites include the Groovitron, a disco ball that renders enemies lost in the funk; the Shock Ravager, an electric whip that can devastate a ton of enemies at once; and the Tornado Launcher, which allows you to use the Sixaxis to manipulate a tornado.
Aside from the new weapons, there's not a whole lot that's been changed from past entries in the franchise—which could be a good or bad thing depending on your tastes. Clank's new powers, such as the Robo-Wings which let you roam freely around certain levels, add some new mechanics to the mix, and there are some one-off sections like Sixaxis-controlled skydiving and spaceship-shooting to mix things up, but for the most part the action remains the same. Of course, there is plenty to see and do in the main story, but you'll also be able to reexplore the worlds to find golden nuts, pieces of the Gadgetron holo-plan, and unlock some extras like cheats, skins, and so forth. The skill-point system, which is similar to Achievements, also makes a return.
Graphically, Tools of Destruction is operating on a completely different plane than most of the other PlayStation 3 software. With a rock-solid 60fps rendering a world where a single rough edge or washed out texture is nearly impossible to find, and a caliber of animation befitting of (as the back of the box boasts) Pixar, Tools of Destruction is easily one of the best-looking games to hit the console scene—and all this with no evident loading aside from a crafty space sequence between planets. Unfortunately, the presentation dips a little with some forgettable music, though this is largely compensated for with spot-on and hilarious voice acting.
Complaints are minimal. The camera can be a bit unwieldy occasionally. The difficulty is also pretty tame. Thankfully, subsequent play-throughs are made a bit more challenging; you keep your upgrades but the difficulty is ramped up. If you're looking to be pushed to the max of your abilities, though, you may find yourself somewhat disappointed.
These small issues don't detract from the core experience. This is a game that has not only been polished through the evolution of its own franchise, but also through some serious care and dedication to the PlayStation 3 as a platform. Believe it or not, there really is no better showcase of the system's potential than what I consider to be Insomniac's true inaugural outing on Sony's box. What the team has learned between the release of Resistance and now is astounding, and while I may be enjoying the title immensely, I also have higher hopes for the future of the PS3.
System: PlayStation 3
ESRB Ratings: Everyone
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