It is interesting to note that while other popular PS2 era developers moved on from the creations that made them famous when making the jump to the PS3, Insomniac Games kept the Ratchet & Clank series going strong. I will not try to speculate on why this ended up being the case (although it should be noted that Insomniac has hardly only restricted themselves to R&C during the PS3 era) and instead will simply offer a hardy sigh of relief that this is the way things worked out. I say this because while the R&C series was not as prolific on the PS3 as it was on the PS2–producing only two full R&C titles compared the latter’s three (four if you count Deadlocked)–it nevertheless kept the series well-earned reputation going with aplomb.
The first R&C game on the PS3, Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction, was not only a new high water mark for series as a whole, but it was also arguably the PS3’s first real full-blown masterpiece. While there had been good games like Folklore and Motorstorm released for the system previously, it was Tools that really showed off what the PS3 was capable of. Furthermore, the game came at a time when the console was still struggling to find its footing following a fairly soft launch and a gorgeous game like Tools was exactly what was needed. Tools was more than just a pretty face however, as it also made good strides on the gameplay front along with pushing the series storyline to greater heights than ever before. Tools even had the guts to end the game on a massive cliffhanger that promised to reveal some of the biggest secrets in the series history.
After an enjoyable yet brief diversion in the form Ratchet & Clank Future: Quest for Booty, the series proceeded to make good on those promises with Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time. Here was a game that was everything R&C fans could hope for and it stands in my opinion as the best R&C title released to date. In terms of gameplay, Time made the bold decision to split up Ratchet and Clank for significant portions of its playtime, but it was a risk that more than paid off thanks to such additions as the Hoverboots and the Chronosceptor. The time-manipulation puzzles that accompanied the latter stand as some of the most well designed gameplay challenges in the series and at times came close to matching the beloved Portal series in terms of cleverness and audacity.
Then there was A Crack in Time’s story. With both Ratchet and Clank exploring their respective pasts, Time was able to take the R&C series to greater emotional depths than it ever had previously reached. Azimuth made for a particularly intriguing addition to the series and the tragic way his story plays out was genuinely affecting by the time all was said and done. It was also great to see the return of Nefarious, a character who has long been the series’ most memorable villain. Time was truly the story of its two leads and the revelations about both are ultimately satisfying payoffs to storylines that have been around since the series began. If Time had ended up being the final R&C game it would have been an extremely satisfactory conclusion to the series as a whole.
Fortunately, that turned out not to be the case. Subsequent spin-off titles Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One and Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault where middling affairs at best, but the upcoming Ratchet & Clank: Into the Nexus looks far more promising. Hopefully this return to the true classic R&C formula can bring both the Future sub-series and the duo’s time on the PS3 as a whole to a satisfactory conclusion. Whatever the case, one thing is clear: with a movie set to debut in 2015 and plans for further R&C games already in the works (be it on Vita or PS4) the duo’s Future remains bright.
You can find more articles in our 25-in-25 series over here, and stayed tuned tomorrow for another look at a great PS3 title!