Platforming on less than $15 a day.
It seems that Sony and Insomniac have decided there simply aren’t enough ways to play Ratchet and Clank. Multiple appearances on the PS2 and PSP, not to mention a PS3 version, not being enough, the world is now treated to, yes, even more of the ever-milked duo. It may be getting tiresome seeing the faces of these heroes, but that’s not really a knock on Ratchet and Clank: Quest for Booty, which for its part, is a solid interpretation of the formula.
[image1]But it’s hard to tell who is supposed to be interested in this. You’d get better value from one of the series’ PS2 games, and if you’ve already played many of the previous R&C titles, this isn’t any different. If that sounds appealing, you’ll get a decent, snack-sized dose of the series’ jump and fight platforming goodness. But may I suggest that if you only want five hours of Ratchet and Clank, perhaps you would be happier playing a more original videogame? Just a thought.
Even if this was the first Ratchet and Clank title, the whole package is a little off. Every game in the franchise is meant to be at least fifteen hours, but this is a third of that at most. Not only that, but the seams show in some of the set-ups. You are occasionally tossed, quite literally, additional weapons in groups of two; at one point, a comic antagonist throws two large guns at Ratchet after he’s tricked our furry alter-ego into helping along said antagonist’s evil plans. Who betrays someone, and then tosses the angry victim some new weaponry? Does this not seem a touch… counter-intuitive?
Platformers typically tout exploration as a strength, but it’s hard to enjoy exploration when there’s so little to explore. There’s only a pirate fleet and a few islands, none of which are big. You can take in all the pretty sights, but the lack of quantity or variety is oddly claustrophobic.
[image2]The story suffers too. If you really are wondering, as Insomniac has suggested you are, what happened after the conclusion of Tools of Destruction, the answer is… virtually nothing. Ratchet tries to find Clank, but has to fight pirates. Believe it or not, that’s the entirety of what happens during the story. You get some context for what will happen in the next full R&C romp, but the whole storyline is clearly umm… optional. If I was in a less kind mood, I might refer to the storyline as “pointless” or “filler”, but that would be impolite. Even supposing you are a follower of this on-going soap epic, you’d be better served by using a search engine to find the details.
In all seriousness, you probably know exactly what to expect. You run and/or jump over, through, and upon various sections of the level, using a number of gadgets and weapons to spice things up. Ratchet responds well to the controller, and the level design is usually interesting, if a little too familiar, as much of it is cobbled together from past R&C games and other platformers. How many times can you jump through spinning fan blades or walk up a wall before it loses its thrill? You’ll be doing this, and other familiar activities, in Quest for Booty for most of the game. It’s still well-executed, but the absolute lack of surprising elements is a little err… surprising.
The gadgets bail out the been-there, done-that gameplay… to a degree. They range from high-tech grappling hooks to magnetic boots to a tornado gun (which you control by tilting the DualShock/SIXAXIS) and a few electrical whips. Unlike most enemies in games of these sorts, they don’t die as soon as you look at them funny. You’re supposed to be mindful of their attacks, while you unload plenty of firepower. Here, the weapons are just creative enough to make combat fun, but the whole shtick is eerily reminiscent of past R&C excursions… which goes well with its general theme of doing almost nothing new.
[image3]At least the game looks pretty. This is running on the same engine as Tools of Destruction, which means it has the same fluid, cartoon-like 3D universe to wander through. Unfortunately, it’s not as pretty as it could have been – there’s a the lack of variety in environments and character designs. But still, the detail level is high, the characters are well animated, and the character designs are generally nice. The music is, much as you might guess, pleasant and forgettable. However, the-voice overs are quite well-done. Each actor seems to have a firm grasp on who their character is, even if said characters are a tad two-dimensional. The presentation is nice….
…But that’s the thing: It’s just nice. The explosions are nice, the controls are nice, the writing is nice… everything is nice – nothing is better than that. It’s almost remarkable how well Ratchet and Clank avoids both glaring flaws and any sort of brilliance.
Ratchet and Clank: Quest for Booty is a vanilla ice cream cone. It’s snack-sized, relatively cheap, and is nice on a lazy summer day. But at some point, you’ll probably wish it was part of a float or a banana split. You know, the kind with extra banana, both chocolate and caramel, and more than a few cherries? It’ll probably cost you more, but it’s worth it for something that is jaw-droppingly delicious over, well, plain vanilla.