The latest title on the high seas of the PlayStation Network is Ratchet & Clank Future: Quest for Booty. Taking place right after Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction, this title is a mini-adventure as part of a larger search for Clank. Washed ashore on Hoolefar Island, with most of your items gone, you've got to find some way to find Clank.
Thus begins Quest for Booty. The mini-adventure for the PSN is high-riding at $15, and clocks in at around four hours of play. Does this game have the mettle to provide the fun and enjoyment appropriate for what you're buying, or is it just an overpriced game?
Nick Chester and I delve into it after the jump.
Ratchet & Clank: Quest for Booty (PS3)
Developed by Insomniac Games
Published by Sony Computer Entertainment
Originally released on August 21, 2008
Not having played any of the previous Ratchet & Clank titles, I put the weight of whether or not I would play any of the other R&C titles solely on Quest for Booty's shoulders.
I was vaguely aware of who Clank is in relation to Ratchet, but the game does a fine job of filling in the blanks right as the story begins. Clank has been captured, and now you need to find some way to get him back. The only way to find him? Talk to an undead robot pirate who has connections with the Zoni. Thus the pirate adventure begins, sending you on an island-hopping campaign in search of a way to find Clank.
The game throws you into the action almost immediately, letting you figure out the controls piece by piece as the enemies come at you. Even if you're already familiar with how the game handles, the opening world isn't simply a cake-walk designed to act as a tutorial -- it expects you to figure out the controls quickly and make use of them, otherwise you'll die.
The game runs you through several worlds, each with their own high level of polish and nice design, with each world feeling like it has its own set of puzzles and platforms, and aren't lifted from other worlds within the game. Within each world, though, the puzzles seem to operate on a single idea with a few variations. So once you've solved one, the others can be done with little to no thought put into them.
This doesn't make the worlds just fly by, though. The game features a great mix of action and platforming along with the puzzles, so it rarely feels like you're just going through a grind of one task or another, unless it's specifically a gauntlet test. What I found was that within each world, tasks fluctuate back and forth between rather easy and irritatingly difficult, with little middle ground in between.
When I say "irritatingly difficult," oftentimes this was due to complaints from the camera. When you send me on a beam-walking adventure, don't prevent the camera from moving because there's a piece of scenery in the way -- especially when I don't have a chance to catch myself before falling off the edge. When I'm in combat, the targeting system rarely locks on to what I'm trying to hit, ending up in a miss.
But playing through the game, these concerns only bothered me every so often. During the four hours or so it took to complete this game, I had nearly lost track of everything else I was supposed to do. The game's stunningly beautiful visuals, coupled with a decently funny script made for an enjoyable adventure. By the time I was done with it, I immediately had the urge to play through the game again -- something that I rarely do -- just for fun. For the price that it's at ($15), the game is well worth it for the fun you'll have.
Verdict: Buy it!
Unlike Brad, I've had plenty of experience with Insomniac's furry little lombax and his metal sidekick. And as a fan of the series, I can say without hesitation that Insomniac have certainly delivered on the promise of a solid, bite-sized digital download Ratchet & Clank experience.
Despite its length (you can complete it in somewhere between three and four hours), Quest for Booty is a big game. In terms of production values, the title goes toe-to-toe with not only Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction, but other games in the genre.
At no point do you feel like you're playing an "arcade" game you downloaded from a digital service. Everything from the visuals to the music, or the writing to the voice acting is on par with what you'd expect from Insomniac and a Ratchet and Clank title.
Overall, the gameplay is balance, and varied throughout. Early on on the game, Ratchet will lose his weapons, and the game mainly relies on the new Omniwrench gadget to carry puzzle and platform gameplay. The magnetized Omniwrench can be used to manipulate objects in the environment, which sets up some satisfying puzzle situations. In other areas, you'll pick up glowing Heliogrubs, using them to not held guide the way through dark areas, but to ward off blood-thirsty creatures afraid of the bright light.
For those looking for action, once Ratchet recovers some of his weapons (most of which are carried over from Tools of Destruction) it's on. While the game doesn't feature the "arena" based battles or challenges that fans of the series might be familiar with, sections of the game do mimic them. For example, there are more than a few areas where you'll be forced to clear out hordes of pirates incoming pirates and other baddies. Despite Brad's legitimate complaints about targeting, it's still fun, and blasting enemies into bolts remains as satisfying as ever.
People aren't used to being able to complete a game in less than four hours, so I can see why Quest for Booty's length might come as a surprise to some. But gamers also aren't used to spending $15 on games with triple-A production, either. For the money, you can't go wrong -- Ratchet's first mini-adventure is definite success.
Verdict: Buy it!