Future is fast, fun, furious action. Strap in for an amazing ride!
Poor Ratchet and Clank; while everyone’s been looking to flying, fire-breathing mythological beasts and sword-wielding, crimson-haired heroines to deliver the PS3’s first killer-app, the lovable Lombax and his metallic sidekick have been nudged out of the cyber spotlight. How ironic then that Sony’s dependable duo have delivered what Lair and Heavenly Sword could not: the best damn reason to pick up a PS3.
You’d think after nearly as many sequels as Ratchet has guns and gadgets, that Insomniac Game’s favorite franchise would be getting a bit long in the tooth. But following their PSP powerhouse, Size Matters, they’ve saved their best effort for Sony’s horsepower-hogging hardware. And from top to bottom, visuals to sound, creative weapons to quirky creatures, it looks like they’ve milked every last drop of awesome from the PS3’s cell-processing potential.
This series has always gone above and beyond in terms of graphical prowess; even on the comparatively underpowered PSP Size Matters delivered an eye-popping production. So, you can just imagine the eye candy buffet that’s being served on the PS3. There’s so much to see, it’s difficult to take it all in during a single play-through; whether it’s the fleet of ships hovering in the background or the dozens of enemies rushing you in the foreground, the screen is consistently filled with candy-colored chaos. And the PS3 handles it all beautifully with nary a hiccup or hitch. The franchise’s staple visual vividness shines like never before with imaginative, out-of-this-world locales brought to life with Disneyland-meets-Halo detail; from the slick sci-fi backdrops to the inspired character and weapon designs, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a single detail that isn’t pretty.
And speaking of those weapons, they didn’t choose Tools of Destruction as the subtitle for nothing. These games have always been about creatively kicking butt, and this one actually ups the ass-whupping ante with a host of new upgradeable armaments. Just when you thought Insomniac had exhausted all possible fresh ideas for blasting bad guys, they equip us with the fairly self-explanatory Tornado Launcher. This powerful friend literally sucks–in a good way–as it quickly clears a room of all alien annoyances; SIXAXIS controls even allow you to navigate the mini miracles of nature toward your faster foes. On the franchise’s ever-expanding device docket is the new Groovitron, a disco ball-spewing gun that’ll immediately turn your enemies into dancing machines – believe us, they’re much easier to deal with when they’re getting their groove on. This is a Ratchet and Clank game, so weapons and devices alone won’t cut it; expect gadgets, like the grappling glove-like Swingshot, to help you out of the tight spots.
Without spoiling too much – after all, half the fun is discovering the silly goodies in Ratchet’s endlessly inventive universe – we’ll say that these goofy gadgets, weapons, and devices are just a few of the many items in your arsenal that effectively take out goons and help you navigate the galaxy while simultaneously putting a smile on your face. And using this stuff is only half the fun, as collecting and upgrading them is an RPG-inspired blast. Collecting bolts pads your bank account, allowing you to purchase the coolest new goodies, while finding raritanium–a precious metal in Ratchet’s wacky world–will allow you to tweak them to their full planet-saving potential. Ratchet’s armor can also be customized as you collect new pieces. This too becomes an addictive activity among many in this brimming-with-fun package.
You’ll need all the help you can get though, as Ratchet and Clank’s latest conquest has them facing off against an all-new nemesis. The ruthless Emperor Percival Tachyon holds an age-old grudge against Ratchet, rooted in a past conflict between their ancestors, and he’ll stop at nothing to turn our furry friend into Lombax roadkill. Story usually takes a backseat to gameplay in most titles, but like previous games in this series, Tools of Destruction’s tale provides endless fodder for hilarious banter between the game’s quirky characters; a magical mix of action and humor is a big part of what makes this game tick. The clever narrative even uncovers some facts behind Ratchet’s secret-until-now Lombax lineage.
In addition to creatively felling foes and halting Tachyon’s maniacal plans – and laughing while doing it, Tools of Destruction also offers its fair share of platforming and puzzling. In fact, it’s worth mentioning that Insomniac has done a fantastic job of incorporating SIXAXIS motion-control into some of its puzzles, without suffering any of the frustration or tacked-on feel that’s plagued so many other PS3 titles. The highlight of this execution is a Marble Madness/Mercury Meltdown-inspired mini-game that’s so addictive it could probably hold its own as a stand-alone PlayStation Store download. The pitch-perfect pacing does a great job of doling out these side activities, giving you an occasional breather from the otherwise fast and furious action. And when you’re not solving puzzles or blasting baddies on foot, there’s plenty of vehicle-based fun to be had; the highlight of which has Ratchet taking to the zero gravity skies in his ship, fighting enemy fleets while dodging asteroids.
There’s so much to love here that a review really doesn’t do it justice. On top of everything else we’ve gushed over, Tools of Destruction delivers amazing audio work – complemented by slick sound FX, top notch voice acting and a rousing score, screen-filling bosses, truly cinematic cut-scenes, and last, but definitely not least, our favorite gaming sidekick, Clank; Ratchet couldn’t conquer his latest quest without his robo-buddy. His ability to control an army of mini-bots returns, and like the rest of this fun-fueled package, it makes for some great gaming. The little guy even receives a substantial nod in Tools of Destruction’s twisty tale. Whether Clank’s right by Ratchet’s side, or attached to his back, or off doing his own thing, his loyalty and cyber gadgets are the icing on this universe-saving cake.
Tools of Destruction is more than worth the sixty bolts. In fact, if you’ve been thinking about a PS3 purchase, here’s your justification–the PS3 has its killer-app. Some greedy gamers might complain over the lack of multiplayer, especially seeing that the Lombax and his cyber pal have displayed their online prowess in previous titles. But honestly, even the most jaded multiplayer junkie will likely forgive the absence of this element when they discover the degree of care and quality that’s gone into crafting the single-player experience. It’s pacing, polish, and through-the-roof production values make Tools of Destruction an outstanding effort. So many series suffer from sequilitis, offering second, third or fourth entries that reek of phoned-in, uninspired development. But Insomniac has done the complete opposite, creating an experience that’s clearly a labor of love for Ratchet and Clank’s keepers. A sequel is inevitable, but topping this level of gaming goodness should pose the Lombax’s greatest challenge.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 5.0 Graphics
Hope you’re hungry, because this one’s a visual feast! 5.0 Control
Fantastic! Even the often problematic SIXAXIS motion controls are intuitive. 5.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
From the action-packed to the amusing, the sound supports all moments perfectly. 5.0 Play Value
No multiplayer, but who cares? The solo campaign is a gaming marvel. 5.0 Overall Rating – The Best
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.