[As Read on GIO.]
In my mind, the last “true” Ratchet and Clank game was the 2009 or so release of Crack in Time, which was a really well thought out and intriguing story and game as a whole. Sure, there have been numerous release with the series’ trademark name on them, such as All 4 One, and Full Frontal Assault, however- these struck me as side stories more so than a true continuation of the saga. Thankfully, series creator Insomniac goes back to the original formula of blasting through vast alien hordes for this most recent installment in the generation spanning series, and while it is a little weaker than its brothers, it proves that some formulas just can’t be broken- I’m looking at you though Call of Duty, because you’ve way overdone that thought! As lighthearted as it is, and as the series has pretty much always been, Into the Nexus is yet another shining example of an action tale done right, and true to form. Who says it needs to include blood and guts to appeal to a broader audience?
Level and world design, and controls feel and look mostly the same as they have since the series’ inception, with a few minor tweaks and adjustments to be had here and there. Thankfully though, it is far from the same-old same-old, as there are many new gadgets and a broader inventory of alien weaponry to discover as well. If you thought you’d seen some insane weapons already, you’re going to be pleasantly surprised at what Insomniac throws in the mix with this newest title. In fact, one particular weapon is so powerful that it tears a mighty rift in the space between dimensions and unleashes hordes of your own enemies upon those you are currently battling. If that wasn’t enough, you can also combine several weapons and gadgets for truly devastating attacks that simultaneously horrify and cripple your robotic and alien opponents.
Clank makes his presence known in almost as classy a way as he did in his tuxedo-wearing form known as Secret Agent Clank, or whatever his name was…by detaching from Ratchet’s back for his own two dimensional platforming segments that are strikingly similar in concept to Terry Cavanagh’s VVVVVV. Clank can switch gravity so that he latches onto the ceiling, floor, and other objects in order to navigate areas and successfully finish puzzles and dodge traps. These platforming segments are pretty well spread out across the game, and serve as a little reprieve from constant action, though they provide their own type of nail-biting action and require different skills as well. They are also slightly more challenging than the rest of the game’s elements, adding a nice puzzle and difficulty factor to the package.
Some people have complained about Into the Nexus’ length- citing that it is “too short” of a game. However, I think this is not entirely true, though they are of course well within their bounds by formulating their own personal opinions. While it is not nearly as lengthy as some of the other games in the series, Into the Nexus contains its own brand of storytelling and diverse settings and items to be found and explored. For this, I think there is plenty of replay value, and that more than makes up for the roughly twelve hour story or so, which has been called “too short” and “brief” on its own. Combine this with the fact that there is also a little side content in the form of The Arena and its battles, and you’ve gotten yourself a neat little adventure bundle to play around with.
There are four major planets to explore, each with new modes of exploration opened up, and a plethora of collectible items to discover as you progress. New gadgets and weaponry available to you will make weapons gurus and completionists alike salivate profusely, and while half or more of the worlds seem pretty straight forward and linear at times, there are also side missions to be found and perused as well. As I mentioned earlier, there is also the Arena mode, although it is truly on the short side- as a leveled up Ratchet and Clank can easily take on the best that the Arena has to throw at players. The whole experience takes roughly ten to twelve hours, depending upon your play style and the speed or ease with which you best the story- first in the normal mode, then in the more challenging Challenge mode, which unlocks more powerful tools and weapons. The story is witty as ever, even if it doesn’t have many unpredictable twists in it. Thankfully, it is all but assured that Ratchet and Clank will have a great future on the next generation of play Station consoles and handhelds, as the ending all but assures us that there will be sequels upon sequels, and some of the bigger events of the game ensure that the battlefield may be a little different as well.
Into the Nexus doesn’t change the formula up too much, but manages to stay fresh and fun, even without the changes in pace and with a slightly shorter, less challenging experience as a whole. There’s one thing for certain, and that’s that you are definitely going to enjoy your experience, and be impatient until the inevitable next-generation sequel drops sometime in the future as well…
Concept: Use the series’ strong points to craft another adventure, this time returning to the classic formula that made it all possible to begin with. Not the strongest in the series, but far from the worst it has to offer in terms of gameplay and story features. There are plenty of side missions and extras to find as well, increasing replay value across the board.
Graphics: The same graphical designs show up, and they look as great as ever. Some textures may seem a little muddy as the explosions increase, but the level of physical damage shown on screen balances this out and is quite impressive as ever.
Sound: From the humming of your arsenal of weapons and gadgets to the musical soundtrack, the game sounds fun and exciting throughout.
Playability: The controls are unchanged for the most part, largely because they have always been one of the strongest points of the game, and that remains the case in this instance as well. The exploration is fun and interesting, especially in Clank’s segments, and the combat is fast-paced and exciting as usual.
Entertainment: They could’ve maybe done a little bit more with the game in terms of story, but you can’t get much better than the action-heavy and puzzle-solving content that they’ve got to offer you this time around. It’s a well-rounded sequel all in all.
Replay Value: High.
Overall Score: 8.5