Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction” is what Playstation 3 owners and Sony have been waiting for: an inspired and nearly flawless package that takes advantage of the PS3 hardware without turning off casual players. With its Pixar-quality graphics and smart, funny script, “Ratchet” should appeal to gamers of all ages and, to the extent the PS3’s small install base can support it, be Sony’s first smash hit for its young console.
“Tools of Destruction” is the sixth installment in the popular “Ratchet and Clank” franchise from Insomniac games. More important, it’s the second game this particular developer has made for the PS3. That means that while a lot of other developers are still groping their way around the inner workings of Sony’s console, Insomniac is using it to push the boundaries of what a videogame can do.
In “Future,” players once more take on the role of Ratchet, a yellow, furry alien who looks a bit like a flying squirrel, and his diminutive robotic sidekick Clank. Though the plot, in which the duo are attempting to overthrow an evil Napoleonesque empire, is simple, the story details are both captivating and humorous. Gags, such as one in which Ratchet disguises himself in a pair of Groucho Marx glasses complete with furry eyebrows and mustache, fit in organically and maintain a good balance between fun and outright silliness.
The art style closely follows the look of the previous “Ratchet and Clank” titles, but pumps them up substantially from what gamers were used to on the Playstation 2. The graphics are as crisp, making the transition from pre-animated cut scenes to playable action seamless. “Tools of Destruction” is proof the long-held promise of videogames being powerful enough to look like feature films is finally coming true.
Graphical power is put to good use across the game’s numerous sprawling levels, each of which takes place on a different planet with a unique look. Almost every world is packed not just with the scenery necessary to tell the story and provide a playing field for gamers, but with tons of detail that make the game pop. Futuristic cityscapes teem with ships zipping back and forth in the distance. Jungles are packed with wildlife. Weather rolls in, clouds fill the sky, rain falls. And none of this effects the game’s performance, which suffers no lag or hangups.
While the core of the game could still likely be considered a platformer because of the reliance of jumping from one place to another, the fact that it takes place in a 3-D world and involves frequent fighting makes it feel more like an action title.
“Tools of Destruction” lives up to its name with nearly three dozen diverse and sometimes humorous weapons, like the Tornado Launcher, which spawns a tornado that can be controlled with the PS3 controller’s motion sensing, and a launchable disco ball that forces all of the nearby enemies to start dancing, giving the player time to take them out. Game even breaks away from the typical at times, throwing in some spaceship to spaceship combat to liven things up.
Most players will finish “Tools of Destruction” feeling very satisfied, and then fire it up again for the many side missions and hidden goals that warrant playing it through for a second time.