Ratchet and Clank: Into the Nexus
- Street Date:
- November 12th, 2013
- Reviewed by:
- Bill Braun
- Review Date:1
- November 21st, 2013
- Game Release Year:
- Sony Computer Entertainment
- ESRB Rating:
- RP (Rating Pending)
Disc version reviewed.
Prior to moving towards a more multiplatform approach, Insomniac Games was responsible for two extraordinary franchises for the PlayStation 3: 'Resistance: Fall of Man' and the 'Ratchet & Clank' future series. While the former was a heavy focus on a more mature first-person shooter theme, the latter delivered action platforming at its best. Although the 'Resistance' story has come to its conclusion with the third entry in the series, the duo that is Ratchet & Clank continues to have a strong following that started with the PlayStation 2.
The Game Itself: Our Reviewer's Take
Where 'Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One' delivered a 4-player cooperative (and mostly enjoyable) experience, and the more recent 'Full Frontal Assault' provided an interesting take on tower defense, 'Into the Nexus' gets back to what has made the series such a strong contender and solid performer since it was first introduced more than 10 years ago. Developed with the single player experience in mind, 'Into the Nexus' is likely the Ratchet and Clank game fans have been waiting for since 'A Crack in Time'.
'Into the Nexus' tells a much darker story than many of the previous Ratchet and Clank games. It begins with a marvelously epic prologue with the partners transporting a female prisoner by the name of Vendra Prog. In dramatic fashion, her "twin" brother (they couldn't be any more opposite looking) Neftin charges ahead to spring her from captivity. What follows is some wonderful zero gravity platforming, rapid-fire encounters, and the shocking demise of a few long-time characters of the series, which I won't spoil here.
As an abbreviated version of the previous Ratchet and Clank adventures, 'Into the Nexus' is spread out over a handful of worlds, each introducing a good amount of game play variety. While many of the mechanics the series is known for make a repeat appearance – hover boots, swing shot – a few new toys come into play that helps 'Into the Nexus' feel like an interesting new entry rather than a repeat of prior episodes. The Jet Pack opens up the verticality of the world, while the Grav Tether creates portals for Ratchet to help complete a variety of platforming sections.
The developers at Insomniac Games also introduce a new 2D puzzle element specific to Clank. Able to enter small portals to the Nether world, the player guides the metallic sidekick through a maze-like environment using a unique gravity mechanic to shift him from floor-to-ceiling and wall-to-wall. Although these puzzles were enjoyable and help deliver fresh new ideas, they were a far cry from the head-scratching puzzles of 'A Crack in Time' that dealt with time manipulation and cloning.
Insomniac Games has always had a strong focus on unique video game weapons. From the light-hearted and laugh-out-loud weapons of the Ratchet universe, to the more hard-core weapons of 'Resistance', regardless of the series you were always in for a treat; and 'Into the Nexus' does not disappoint. While old favorites start the game off, it's the new flavors that really make your arsenal shine.
The Winterizer magically transforms Ratchet's enemies into snowmen while playing Jingle Bells, and the Nightmare Box is a terrifying jack-in-the-box that will first scare the enemies and then distracts them. These newest additions are undeniably appropriate for the holiday time release of 'Into the Nexus' and are testament to the consistent creativity of the development team. As in past Ratchet and Clank games, each weapon can be leveled up to insane levels of effectiveness, providing you with an arsenal that would give games like 'Call of Duty' and 'Battlefield' a run for their money.
The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
From the darkness of space to flourishing plant life, the visuals of 'Into the Nexus', like the previous games from the future series, do not disappoint. I have always adored the art style of the Ratchet and Clank universe and admired the solid level of variety the animators have consistently delivered.
Adding to this ocular treat, the frame rate stability, even during the most hectic of encounters, was never found to be stumbling or trying to catch up. This is quite an impressive achievement considering some of the more enclosed areas of the game are often packed full of activity which can mean a large number of varied enemies, a rapid and repeated switch between unique weapons, and even collectible bolts flying in from all corners of the screen.
Unfortunately, where the frame rate was solid, the same cannot always be said about the camera. These same enclosed environments often resulted in a confused camera and, as a result, a confused gamer. This is never welcome in any game, regardless of genre, and can often ruin the entire experience. Thankfully, these exercises in patience were few and far between and were a minor blemish to an otherwise enjoyable experience.
The Audio: Rating the Sound
Although 'Into the Nexus' may not be the game to show off your surround system with, it does exhibit consistent quality audio. The sound engineers did a great job with providing the individual weapons with their own unique style and effect.
Still, the real auditory highlight of a Ratchet and Clank game continues to be the voice acting, and 'Into the Nexus' is no different. Although the main protagonists are well acted, it's the supporting cast that generally has the best lines, providing those laugh-out-loud moments. Captain Quark has always been a favorite video game character of mine, and although his cameo appearance was short lived, it was more than enough to put a smile on my face.
The allure of fully upgrading all of Ratchet's weapons, scouring each planet for every available bolt, and completing skill points is enough to prompt a second play through of 'Into the Nexus'. Adding to this, a challenge mode is unlocked after completing the game that provides a higher difficulty level and even more bolts to collect. While there is no online multiplayer or cooperative modes to speak of, 'Into the Nexus' – and really any of the 'Ratchet and Clank' games – are enjoyable enough on their own merit to always consider a second or third play through.
HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?
In addition to the individual cut scenes that unlock as you complete 'Into the Nexus', the real bonus (for me, anyway) was being able to watch the trailer for the Ratchet and Clank movie that is scheduled to release in 2015. New copies of the game also come with a download code for the 2008 game, 'Ratchet and Clank: Quest for Booty'. And really, how can you ever complain about getting a free game.
'Ratchet and Clank: Into the Nexus' has proven yet again how much fun an action platformer can really be. The story has heart, the characters continue to be charming and adorable, and the game play mechanics are solid from start to finish. Although this may be an end to the future series, as well as the final entry for the PlayStation 3, it is one series that I hope will continue well into the next era of gaming. 'Into the Nexus' simply should not be missed.
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