Although it has had a few missteps along the way with Full Frontal Assault and All 4 One, Ratchet and Clank has had a pretty successful generation overall. These missteps keep this generation of Ratchet and Clank games from matching up with the Playstation 2 generation with the original Ratchet and Clank, Going Commando and Up Your Arsenal. A Crack in Time was the pinnacle of the series but to the distaste of many fans, the franchise has gone in a different direction since then. Ratchet and Clank Into the Nexus returns the series to its roots in a mostly satisfying way, but just like this generation of Ratchet and Clank games, it has its missteps.
R&C games all have three main ingredients in all of their core games: Smooth platforming, insane guns and a playful yet serious story. Even though Into the Nexus is a relatively short outing, all three of the ingredients are present. The writing is smartly humorous, but it has a darker tone to the story itself. Ratchet and Clank are up against Vendra and Neftin Prog, siblings who want to use the dimensionator to open up a rift to free an intergalactic space monster. The story quickly becomes personal for the two heroes and the villains as the go head to head. The tale itself is fine, but it isn’t on the same level as previous adventures. A few nods to past adventures are nice fanservice moments though. References to the Great Clock, Doctor Nefarious, and Emperor Tachyon are littered throughout the game and make for great moments for the fans of previous games.
As an intergalactic space cadet, part of the job is travelling to other worlds to explore. The five planets that are in Into the Nexus are all varied and very open. You’ll start off on a space station, later travelling to a planet with haunted caverns, a swamp based world, and a metropolis-like world. The way you traverse the environment is for the most part the same as previous entries, with a few new tricks. Walking around with Ratchet feels a bit slower than usual, but that problem disappears once you unlock the charge boots half way through the game. I just think it would have been a better idea to have the charge boots unlocked from the start, or at least have them still available at the start of challenge mode (New game +). Something new for the franchise is the use of the jet-pack. The jet-pack has been there since the original R&C, but the were essentially a re-skin of the heli-pack. But in this game, the jet-pack is used to actually fly for a significant period of time in certain areas. Planets are more open than ever, so it would have been nice if the jet-pack wasn’t restricted in certain areas and the charge boots available at the start.
Insomniac games once again prove that they never run out of bright ideas for weapons in their video games. Ratchet and Clank are always out numbered, but never outgunned. Here is a run down of the weapon list in R&C Into the Nexus:
- Standard Omniblaster, Fusion grenade, rocket launcher, plasma rifle, disc blade launcher and shotgun
- The Winterizer: A gun that emits a ray that morphs enemies into snowmen, all while playing a Christmas jingle
- The Nightmare box: Throw one of these jack-in-the-boxes out to briefly terrify enemies. It works as a great distraction tactic
- The Vortex Grenade: Throw one of these bad boys out to create a black hole that sucks enemies in and leaves them floating around it for easy target practice
- Mr.Zurkon: Personal body guard that comes with an attitude. When upgraded, his wife an kid join the action.
- The Netherbeast: Technically a melee weapon, every punch thrown with this weapon equipped sends out a nether creature to swipe at close range enemies.
- RYNO VII: The most powerful gun in the galaxy. Nuff said.
Ratchet has twelve weapons that you will constantly unlock and upgrade, so you’ll always have a new way to blow your enemies away. However, the enemies present in the game aren’t varied enough, and are essentially just things for you to shoot at. It is always fun, but you never really have to strategize. I also have to mention that I had to struggle with the camera a few times during the game, a problem that was never present in past Ratchet and Clank games.
Into the Nexus is a solid closing point to the generation of Ratchet and Clank games, even though it suffers from a few minor issues. The story doesn’t match up to the brilliance of A Crack in Time, but callbacks to previous games will leave the hardcore fans smiling. If the charge boots were unlocked from the start, platforming would be fast and perfect. The insane weapons and banter are thankfully still there, but a certain spark is missing from this title. So in closing, if you are a Ratchet and Clank fan, chances are you already played through the game and enjoyed it. It leaves a lot to be desired, but I guess we’ll just have to wait for Ratchet and Clank to hit the Playstation 4 to get that next epic space adventure.