Ratchet and Clank: A Crack in Time Review

VGD joins the well-armed Lombax and his mechanical sidekick for a third and final outing on PS3.

By Edwin Evans-Thirlwell, October 30, 2009

Sorry Borderlands, but Crack in Time's well ahead in the colour stakes.

Sorry Borderlands, but Crack in Time's well ahead in the colour stakes.

While Clank levels are A-to-puzzle-to-boss-to-B affairs, Ratchet is at liberty to trawl single plane starscapes for odd jobs between story missions. Besides basic, hold-the-button-down space combat and a smattering of find-and-retrieve tedium, you’ll scour small barren planetoids for the Zoni, bug-eyed Area 51 rejects who can upgrade your ship with afterburners and the like, allowing access to new sectors and planets.

There’s the customary entire absence of real punishment, with any Bolts, upgrades and other artefacts you’ve collected staying put in your inventory when you die, allowing less skilled players to beat tricky segments (few and far between) by way of gradual accretion. And there are the usual gloriously improbable gadgets to be swiped from holographic vendors, each with its own Ren-and-Stimpy-esque tutorial video.

Jet boots furnish Crack in Time with its obligatory racing subgame.

Jet boots furnish Crack in Time with its obligatory racing subgame.

The Groovetron’s back, cause of many an unplanned disco dance-off, together with the trusty pistol, bomb-tossing glove and homocidal robot assistant. New tools include a voluble, amorous frog-beast masquerading as a shotgun and the Dynamo of Doom, which fires a massive, Sixaxis-controlled ball of electricity. Each builds experience and levels up with use, but you can also bolt on enhancements such as burst fire, motion detectors and the like by finding the requisite blueprints.

It’s hard to see where the series could go from here, but then one might have said the same of Up Your Arsenal back in 2004, and five titles later I have few crippling complaints. Perhaps above all else the writing is as full of charm and wit as ever; if the sight of an IKEA store’s worth of screws whirl-pooling into Ratchet’s pockets leaves you cold, consider forking out to hear Quark deliver his own voice-overs, or Nefarious lose control of his electronic larynx during an especially violent tantrum. Ratchet and Clank might be living on borrowed time, but between the gags and the glitz we’re happy to forgo collecting a little longer.

7 out of 10

7 Responses to “Ratchet and Clank: A Crack in Time Review”

  1. Aaron says:

    It is worth asking why do games that maintain a steady pace of excellence get decreasing scores. You folks do realize it is ok to give Excellent Game Volume 5 a 9/10 while also writing “its very similar to the previous excellent games, whether that is good or bad is up to you.” These reviews lauding Crack in Time’s positives, explaining no negatives other than “this is Ratchet and Clank 11″, and then hanging a mediocre score on it are getting stranger and stranger …

    • Edwin says:

      But surely it would be just as OK to write something like “Excellent Game D is the exact same game as previous Excellent Games A, B and C – if this *isn’t* a problem, add two points”?

      I love Ratchet and Clank, but nine sequels in you have to start wagging fingers…

  2. The_Benny says:

    The similarity does dampen enthusiasm though, you can see it in plenty of reviews for this. “It’s still good, because it’s still pretty much what it was before.” By this point playing a R&C game is fairly by the numbers, and I imagine it’s harder to feel comfortable slapping an excellent, potential-game-of-the-year kind of score on it.

    • Rainsoaked says:

      Halo 3 got a 9.0 even though it was… well… Halo 2 with a finished campaign and the less total starting maps than the predecessors.

      It’s not fair to say “This game is a solid addition to a long running series. It’s prettier, it adds new puzzles, it has more content, the dialogue is a step up, there is even a new spin on an old puzzle- nothing wrong with it.

      BUT it’s glaring fault is retreading in the footsteps of previous, fantastic games with a familiar romp.”

      It makes me wonder if a step down can be called an innovation now. Would that make things better? Gut the game so the next title could go back to where it was? Or maybe stop releasing solid, good titles for a loved series?

      Shouldn’t having cross-hairs be derivative? The next Mario Game has 3d too, what a step back! Please! Every Ratchet and Clank title at least did something new from the last, in some way. Each are polished, solid games. What’s wrong with that?

  3. Andres says:

    Edwin, your opinion is highly respecable, but bear in mind that you are grading a game and not a series. It’s perfectly understandable that you criticize the series and the repetitiveness it is falling into, but as a game, as an individual game separated from its predecessors, does it really deserve only a 7/10? I think you will agree with me if I say that it does not.

    If I’m a kid who doesn’t know much about videogames and has never played a Ratchet and Clank before, and I’m thinking about purchasing this game but this is the only score I know of, I’m probably not going to buy the game. I’m not spending $60 on a 7/10 game. Had I known that on its OWN MERITS the game could have perfectly scored a 9 or a 9.5/10, I would have probably bought it. Even if I have played this series before, and take a look at this score, I’m going to think that this particular sequel is subpar and that it is not as good as the previous ones.

    Do you see why I’m against factoring in the “we’ve seen this before” variable, let alone making it worth 20% of the score? It’s just not fair. A series might become repetitive, but a game is good or bad on its own merits.

    Plus, there are many people who don’t even want to see big changes. I, for one, look for consistent quality and reliability in sequels, and I would much rather have an excellent game like this than a bizarre experiment that ends up messing up the whole series.

    • Thanks for the considered response, Andres, but I’m sticking by my original conclusions. We’re a specialist game editorial site, not a mainstream outlet, and thus comparing and contrasting iterations in a well-known franchise when giving a judgement is only appropriate. Games don’t exist in a critical vacuum. If the score seems misleading (and all scores are, by their very nature, misleading) there’s the review text right above it.

      With you up to a point on the “consistent quality and reliability in sequels” front, and the review reflects that, but this is Insomniac we’re talking about here – the company isn’t exactly known for misguided experimentation :p One thing I’d like to see going forward is a return to competitive multiplayer, or perhaps even a co-op mode.

  4. Jeremy says:

    Completely agree with review I have clocked every ratchet and clank game, and i was just slightly disappointed with this. The levels are so similar and I found the camera and the annoying jabba binks characters frustrating.

    Quark is brillant and the game is good, like clanks set pieces. However the game is way to easy, 7 / 10 seems fair.


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