Doctor Slimm strokes PlayStation 3’s Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction

Doctor Slimm attempts to diagnose small tweaks that would have improved the playing experience, sometimes imperceptibly. They are presented in no particular order. This is not a sequel wish list or a bug list but tweaks to what is already there. 

Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction (2007)

Ratchet and Clank embark on another galaxy spanning adventure as they attempt to help the hapless half-wait Captain Qwark out of the clutches of diminutive but evil Emperor Tachyon. Making things harder is Tachyon’s utter abhorence of Lombaxes, of which Ratchet is the only one in existence, and Tachyon doesn’t care who or what gets in his destructive line of sight.

8/10

Lots of fun and lots of it in this easy-to-play, very easy-to-recommend and wonderful-looking action platforming romp. There’s a minute lack of atmosphere but this won’t nag at the young ‘uns and the ending is slightly mishandled (it’s downbeat instead “Let’s go!” to the next adventure) but there are so many things done right including the graphics, the voice-work, most of the Sixaxis stuff (didn’t like the Visicopter) and, bestest of all, ‘those wonderful toys’ at your disposal.

This videogame contains extended fantasy violence.

Classified 7+ by PEGI. The game is only suitable for persons who have reached the age of 7 or over.
Classified Violence by PEGI. Game contains depictions of violence..

Available on PS3.

Deadly liquid that looks like deadly liquid. Many of the planets in Ratchet and Clank Future feature rivers, lakes and seas that kill you if you fall in them. However, they are not graphically differentiated enough from the water you can swim in and so it usually strikes you as odd and annoying when you fall in and die. Also, the death animation is always the sinking in gelatonium animation from Planet Cobalia but on that planet you can jump out of the gelatonium if you are quick enough and, inside the factory, you actually just get piped through the system and emerge from a manhole. There needed to be two clearly different animations for deadly liquid you can and can’t escape from and the different liquids needed to be much more strongly defined visually.

Staying Alive. While the Groovitron is the game’s headline gadget and is insanely wonderful (it causes all enemies, even automated turrets and bosses, in the game to start boogieing), it really really aches for the finishing touch of The Bee Gee’s Staying Alive or some other disco anthem. The rights were presumably prohibitively expensive but it is a desperate shame that it isn’t there.

Don’t let the player fall to his doom without warning. It’s difficult to fathom why this still exists in 2007 videogames. Instead of simply letting Ratchet fall to his doom while walking along, he should always give some kind of visual feedback that he is in danger. In the majestic Ico, the hero would always grab onto the ledge instead of falling. Ratchet already has ledge-grappling animation and mechanics and so should not be falling to his doom unnecessarily. Additionally, God of War showed that there is absolutely no problem with removing the player’s ability to fall off most ledges.

Moral repercussions for killing consumer bots. Ratchet generally goes around deconstructing everything in sight because they are baddies out to kill him but there are a number of levels where there are entirely innocent robots just milling around. You still get the bolt reward for splatting them and, in fact, Skill Points are assigned for smashing all the innocent bots on Cobalia. It would have been better if Clank would repeatedly chastise Ratchet for unnecessary carnage of what are, after all, his brethren. “Oops” “Don’t do that, Ratchet” “That’s not nice” “What did that bot do?” eventually leading up to, perhaps, “I don’t like you when you do that” and “Are you going to smash me, too?”

User-defined controls. In common with many console games, you cannot define your own controls. You can choose one of the predefined control layouts. Now I was happy with both the control schemes but am not given the choice.

Make death hurt. Contemporary reviews bashed Ratchet and Clank for being too easy which, frankly, it isn’t. The difficulty is beautifully judged and you will die lots and lots of times while playing the game. However, there is no real penalty for dying and it doesn’t feel like you died or got whupped. Perhaps taking a percentage of your coins and raritanium when you die would make Ratchet’s death feel much less blasé and encourage the player to try and stay alive. Or, perhaps, similar to Challenge mode, an ongoing reward multiplier that is increased whenever you complete any objective without dying. Also, as an added detail, perhaps the makers could have made it so that Clank steps in and flies you back to the beginning of the planet instead of Ratchet actually dying. As it is, the player will just wade in to any situation and mash on the attack buttons until everything goes quiet or he wakes up at the beginning of the planet again.

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