Ratchet and Clank Nexus is an odd game. On one hand it’s a return to form after developer Insomniac decided to try new things with the franchise such as the Tower Defense esque QForce, and the Four Player tag team style of All 4 One, but on the other it only feels about half a game: an afterthought, an epilogue.
It’s not a bad game, in fact it’s quite enjoyable. The humour that was certainly missing from the standalone adventures has returned, and it ties in nicely with the events from the last great Ratchet and Clank title, 2009’s A Crack in Time, but we feel we should warn you now, Ratchet and Clank Nexus is short.
We mean really short, if you go back and get everything, and search every nook and cranny you’ll still be looking at around five hours worth of gameplay. There are only five planets to visit, and one of those is the standard ‘Arena’ level. There are no space flights between worlds in Orphelion, or smaller worlds to land on and explore. This is a stripped down, basic Ratchet and Clank adventure that feels more like one of the original games than the larger ‘Future’ series we’ve played this generation.
The story is pretty basic, and you come into it part way through so there’s a feeling that you’re missing something, but as with most Ratchet and Clank games, the story only serves as the bones, the meat is in the gameplay and guns. Gameplay feels very similar to the other entries in the series, standard platforming fare with double jumps, glides, and jet packs, but the much loved grind rail sections have been cut and replaced with gravity boot platform hopping, which don’t really have the same thrill as the grind rail so we hope they don’t become a permanent feature.
As with A Crack in Time there are also Clank mini games that you’ll have to play through, this time these involve changing the gravity of another dimension in order to maneuver Clank through obstacles. These are fun, and challenging, or frustrating depending on your viewpoint, but a welcome break from the main story.
Now, the guns. Everyone loves the guns in Ratchet and Clank games, the multiple upgrades and evolutions are what keep people playing. As the game is so short though we have lost a few weapons along the way, most notably The Groovitron, but we’ve also been given new weapons such as the Nightmare Box, which scares enemies and then causes them to attack it rather than you for a short time. We also have a couple of new weapon evolutions, the best of which is the Mr. Zurkon. This time the wonderfully acerbic android brings along his family with Zurkon Jr. and Mrs Zurkon. Together with you, the family creates a lethal, and hilarious, killing machine. Definitely one to upgrade as soon as possible.
One thing we have taken away from Ratchet and Clank Nexus is that, along with the game’s weapons, the series needs to evolve. The story it started telling in 2007’s Tools of Destruction feels like it has overstayed its welcome. Hopefully developers Insomniac are working to refresh the franchise with a PlayStation 4 release sometime in the future, and if that’s the case then Ratchet and Clank happily feels like a full stop to their PlayStation 3 adventures.
Ratchet and Clank Nexus is available now, and is priced £19.99 on Amazon