Ratchet & Clank: Nexus Preview

Ratchet & Clank lost its way with recent entries in the series. Moving away from the Future story arc and the third person shooting/platforming hybrid with it, All 4 One was a one-screen four player co-op adventure. While good, it lost the sense of adventure and became a much more linear affair. QForce might have returned to the traditional third person viewpoint, but tried to substitute the exploration for a take on tower defence gameplay.

So Nexus is a return to form for the franchise, advancing the traditional Ratchet & Clank gameplay and taking it to the next level. There’s platforming, there are weapons, there’s the trusty old wrench, but now there’s a whole load of new features, mainly focused around the manipulation of gravity.

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The very first level throws the duo onto the outside of their ship in space, having to protect it from Neftin, who is making every attempt to try and rescue their malevolent prisoner and his sister, Vendra. This leads to an extremely impressive and explosive intro, which sees the use of the Gravity Boots to cling to surfaces on both the outside and inside of the ship, defeating enemies as you play.

It’s mostly standard fare from here on out, with set-pieces shifting things up a notch from the simple jumping and shooting that we’re used to. Even so, guns are a blast to use – there’s a standard blaster, a grenade glove and more exotic weapons such as the Nightmare Box, which allows you to fire a devilish jack-in-the-box to distract enemies.

Gadgets play a big part too, and while the trusty Swingshot is back in action, new items such as the Gravity Tether allow for some puzzling tractor-beam action. This gadget is executed really well and offers some fantastic puzzles to break apart the shooting and platforming, albeit rather simple in the section I played.

They’ve really just perfected the Ratchet & Clank formula from what I’ve seen, with brilliant gunplay, excellent platforming, spot-on humour and a story that’s left me wanting to find out more. There’s multiple routes through planets, RYNO pieces to collect, weapon levels to achieve which will bring upgrades. It’s more of the same, yes, but it’s a welcome return and the new features make it feel as fresh as ever, with plenty of throwbacks offering a good dose of nostalgia.

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If you’ve been keeping an eye on the game, you probably knew about most of that already, but what may have slipped under your radar are the playable Clank sections.

Each title in the series features a new mechanic for Clank, ranging from fairly standard platforming to some brilliant time-twisting puzzle sections in A Crack In Time. Nexus’ twist might just be the best yet, at least in terms of style and execution. Essentially, Clank can enter Rifts and this then transforms the game into a 2D side scroller.

It’s not your traditional side scrolling platformer though, with gravity manipulation once again playing a big part. A flick of the right stick will hurtle Clank in a direction, and you’ll have to use this to avoid landing in the purple goo, before leading a Nether creature back to the opening rift, essentially opening a door for Ratchet & Clank to go through and progress further into the level. These sections have a distinct art style, with everything black and purple; it looks fantastic.

And the game looks great overall, even if there are some slight issues with aliasing and low resolution cutscenes. There’s a really subtle particle system, which compliments the joyous animation of the characters in the most excellent of ways. Lighting plays a big role too, and works really well.

It’s the colourful, fun and explosive adventure that Ratchet & Clank fans have been asking for, and perhaps a perfectly suited final outing for the duo on PS3, forgetting the previous two oddities and creating what looks to be a worthy follow-up to A Crack In Time. It’s very nostalgic and funny, as any good game starring our favourite Lombax should be, and definitely something to tide you over from November 13th until the PS4 releases at the end of the month.

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6 Comments

  1. Will be good to get back to the main arc of the recent series. A4O was a nice diversion, but QForce just seemed like an odd fit.

    Still want a game made up of tens of hundreds of Clank’s time-bending ACiT puzzles.

    • Honestly, as much as I love Ratchet and Clank I could not finish All 4 One. The perspective watered down the gameplay too much. Even the PSP games were better. In constrast, I thought QForce was actually a good way to mix up the gameplay. It felt like a natural extension of the battle arena gameplay from the earlier games. I would have liked a few more modes in single player to make replaying the maps a bit more fun but other than that I quite enjoyed it.

      Agree completely about wanting more time bending puzzles from ACiT. They were wonderful.

  2. When it comes to R&C I don’t mind ‘more of the same.’ Why fix it if it aint broken? Just give me a new story, new weapons and new planets to explore and I’ll be happy. I don’t want them to re-define the genre with each new release. I’d rather they spent more time coming up with a great plot than forcing drastic changes that don’t work.

    From the preview it sounds like they’ve gone back to basics and I’m really looking forward to it. It’s just a shame it isn’t a full length release.

  3. I’ll add this to my ‘to play’ pile. Never had ratchet on ps2 so am half way through the first game on hd collection and will play all of them!

  4. Sounds good, might not be an essential purchase for me straight away with the PS4 imminent, but i’ll definitely pick it up at some point as i love the gameplay and humour of the main games.

  5. It’ll be a day one for me, love the series including the experimentals, completed them all.
    This game is going to retail at around 20 quid, that’s gotta be a bargain in anyone’s book!

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