Ratchet & Clank games have been somewhat lacklustre of late. All 4 One was an enjoyable co-operative effort but really lacked in the adventuring and collecting departments rife in A Crack in Time. It was a much more linear affair, with some unique ideas, but the game ultimately always pushed you forwards through sections, without giving you enough time to really explore and take them in.
QForce wasn’t the next step that the series needed either, attempting to blend in an odd form of tower defence with third-person gameplay, which left Ratchet and his robot friend stuck in one area at times, shooting hordes of foes in the most dire and monotonous of ways; I didn’t even have the drive to complete it.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a huge fan of the series. A Crack in Time was the pinnacle of its genre, with the first three Ratchet & Clank games being my personal favourite PS2 titles. The original was the first game I played on my PS2 and replaying the first three games in the form of their HD remasters recently has made me yearn for another traditional entry into the series.
And that’s why I’m glad Nexus exists. Announced in a suitable way, with no drawn out teasing and not much of a leak aside from the title, it appears to be taking the series not back to its roots, but rather to where it should’ve continued after A Crack in Time, acting as an epilogue tying up all the loose ends from the Future (PS3) series and perhaps allowing Insomniac to focus on a more expansive PS4 entry.
From what we’ve seen – mainly from the trailer above and IGN’s preview – Nexus looks like not only a return to form, but a way of moving forward with the gameplay without losing any of the magic. The new anti-grav gameplay looks as though it’ll expand on previous titles’ use of the Gravity Boots, featuring zero gravity space sections almost similar to Dead Space, which is a bit strange considering how different the games are.
And then there are the new weapons. Hopefully we’ll be seeing something as impressive and hilarious as the Groovitron from Tools of Destruction, though the Winteriser, which turns enemies into snowmen to the tune of Jingle Bells, and the Nightmare Box, which fires out a variety of different distractions including clowns, robots and eyeballs, featured in the trailer are definitely a good start.
These come along with the confirmation of returning favourites such as the Blaster and the Fusion Grenade. Other new weapons reflect the anti-grav gameplay: the Repulsor suspends enemies in the air, while the Vortex Grenade creates a black hole which sucks enemies towards it.
As well as returning gadgets such as the Swingshot, the game will feature new devices to alter the gameplay, such as the Grav Tether, which allows Ratchet to deploy purple tethers – similar to Portal 2’s tractor beams.
It certainly looks more cinematic too, with an array of explosive set-pieces present throughout the trailer; the zero gravity sections should make way for impressive sections that look like they’re taken from an animated movie rather than a game.
Speaking of which, it’ll be interesting to see if this ties into the upcoming Ratchet & Clank movie in any way, or if that’s part of the next phase of the series, which will hopefully include some PS4 outings for the duo. Nexus has its own, separate plot which puts the main characters stranded on a planet at the far edge of the Galaxy after two foes they’re transporting escape.
The humour as well as the third person shooting/platforming hybrid gameplay appear to be returning and completely intact. It’s those, not the titular Lombax and his companion, which make a Ratchet & Clank game. Well, those core features as well as weapon levels, vendors, skill points, Clank-only sections and gadgets are the ingredients to a proper entry into the series.
And, thankfully, Nexus has the lot.
On top of all that, Insomniac have touted that it’s the most expansive downloadable title in the series yet, “dwarfing the size of both Quest for Booty and QForce” and since it’s around double the price of those titles at 30 Euros, it’s easy to assume it’ll be more of a fully-fledged Ratchet & Clank game. It doesn’t sound quite as big as A Crack in Time, but it could definitely be similar to Tools of Destruction or the PS2 titles in length.
“It feels like the time is right to revisit Ratchet’s personal story arc,” said James Stevenson in the initial announcement post, which I think is something we can all agree with. We’ll all find out just how successful the revisit is when it releases later this year on PS3, with a Vita release entirely possible.