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The perfect send off to a beloved generation
Ratchet & Clank: Into The Nexus, or in Europe simply Ratchet & Clank: Nexus, comes following a long line of supposedly terrible games (Ratchet & Clank Q Force, for example, or the frustratingly repetitive Full Frontal Assault.) I personally have to admit, I haven’t been the most loyal Ratchet & Clank fan, nor have I really got more than my toes wet since the wonderfully marvellous A Crack in Time four years ago, but despite all this, the descent into the Nexus is truly exciting.
Into The Nexus returns Ratchet & Clank to good form, its story picking up sometime after the events of 2009’s A Crack in Time (which also happened to be the most recent in the series that was actually something worth talking about). Our titular duo are in the process of transporting the villainous space witch Vendra Prog across the universe to the ‘Vartax Detention Facility’, when her bonehead twin brother Netfin seizes the opportunity to now rescue his sister. Thus begins an incredible fugitive space chase across the galaxy in order to set things right, but not before hitching a ride on board Netfin’s ship to the planet Yerek.
This invigorating jailbreak sets the tone for the structure of the game from this point on, one which involves flying to planets, exploring some moderately linear paths, collecting some items and upgrades, before flying to a new planet, rinse and repeat. That said, Nexus manages to bring further excitement to the mix with some entertaining new sequences that break up the line between the traditional third person shooting and 3D platforming and continue thereafter throughout the majority of the levels.
‘Tools of Destruction’
It wouldn’t be a homage to a perfectly brilliant Ratchet & Clank game without recognising what truly makes the game its own. One of its core strengths comes from the variety of bizarre and idiosyncratic weapons, with the further ability to upgrade each one using “raritanium crystals” that are discovered throughout the various levels. Some of the weapon upgrades are blooming marvellous, with the addition to send enemies flying using the “Kinetic Pulse” addition, or just simply upgrading the sniper rifle to allow you to slow down time whilst aiming.
Where Ratchet & Crank: Nexus really excels in my eyes, has to be the various toys and gadgets that make the platforming shenanigans much more enjoyable and a lot less tedious, especially where hunting collectibles is concerned. The jetpack, or ‘heli-pack’ gadget, is one such contraption that happens to boost the fun factor considerably, allowing Ratchet to whiz through the air further than ever before, as well as becoming a surefire way of dodging numerous enemies. It’s notable to add that this little novelty has indeed opened up each level to a substantial degree, meaning planets are much less linear than they previously were, which also gives players the opportunity to spend more time exploring and less time journeying across a succession of undeviating paths.
Another of the exciting new gadgets introduced is the ‘Grav-Tether’, which allows you to create a gravity stream between two of the targets flowing in either direction dependent on which one was shot at first. This is a rather interesting method in which to navigate your way around the various areas, thus also adding a rather clever puzzle element to each of the locations.
Into the Netherworld
Sadly, our robot companion Clank doesn’t get a whole lot of screen time in this one; I think he speaks a total of perhaps twenty lines throughout the course of the game. That said, one of the intriguing new features in Ratchet & Clank: Nexus is the 2D “Netherverse” sections throughout the game, which involve controlling the gravity around Clank and tapping the right stick at the correct times and angles in order to send him flying in the right direction, whilst avoiding various ceilings and walls in a perilous shadow world. The aim of these ‘puzzles’ is to locate a sleeping Nether and lure it back to the rift opening, thus breaking the link between worlds and correcting anomalies in reality. This offers players something a little more unique from the familiar platforming mechanics, and breaks up the routine further.
Although Ratchet & Clank: Nexus isn’t necessarily a long game, the environment art is beautiful and each of the cutscenes are animated to an outstanding quality. All of the characters are full of personality and there is absolutely tons to keep you entertained for more than a single playthrough. Nexus is a game that is easily enjoyable, and ties up its loose ends to the story in the best way possible, without overcompensating.
Ratchet & Clank: Nexus is a truly solid 3D platforming game, and an even better later entry into the series. However, its greatest shortfall is the length of time it can take to complete the story, which can be over in somewhere around five hours. That said, it is easily forgivable as it’s one instance where it truly excels in terms of quality and fresh ideas, and this is much preferable to any Ratchet & Clank game that resulted in nothing more than a longer-lasting and disappointing experiment. Insomniac Games has found its footing once more, with the hugely brilliant Into the Nexus reestablishing everything that was so great about the series.
As we wave goodbye to this generation, there is no better way than for Sony’s most recognisably loved heroes to send the PS3 off on a strong note.