Your favourite bat-eared super hero is back to save the universe from yet another dastardly plot. The only Lombax in the galaxy and his robotic companion return to fine form in the epilogue to the fantastic Future saga.
On their way to a secure facility with prison escapee, Vendra Prog in tow, Ratchet and his crew learn just how powerful their captive is in the introduction to this new chapter of the platforming series. Ratchet and Clank find themselves stranded in space and have to fix their ship before they can move on to their destination, which is a nice way to bring in the mechanics for the tutorial level. Jumping, smashing objects and learning how to use your beginning tools, the back story is interwoven through the button prompts and directions.
You soon find out that Vendra has an affinity with some sort of dangerous power, giving her abilities that make her a formidable foe indeed. Not only does she pose a threat, but her brother, Nefin decides to stage a breakout which causes huge problems, and some emotional ones for the gang.
Your journey to recapture the Progs takes you to numerous planets trying to track them down to face justice for their crimes. Most of these new worlds have their own theme and with developers wanting a bit of a change, have tried to make them distinctly more spooky and darker than previous R&C games. Each also have a special technique, where on one planet, you’ll find that there are a lot of jet-pack motivated puzzles. On another, you’ll have to send Clank into a dark nexus and navigate a maze of traps and pools of purple ooze, using the right stick to change the directional gravity. They’re all very well put together and break up the blasting and platforming perfectly with puzzle elements.
Speaking of blasting, Into the Nexus has some of the best weapons seen in a game, ever. Each has it’s own functions too. The omni-blaster is your typical starting, plasma-firing handgun for everyday use. You have a Temporal Repulsor, a fancy name for a shotgun and then you have a host of other tools of destruction (wink) that show the imaginative side of Insomniac. For instance, pull out your Winterizer and blast a tornado of cold air at your enemies, turning them into snowmen, all the while playing some jangly Christmas music before pulverising them into powder with your Omni-wrench. The most impressive item of your armoury, however, is the return of Mr. Zurkon…
Mr. Zurkon has appeared in many of the recent games but never so effective, nor as hilarious as his Nexus appearance. Quipping one liners while he protects your back against bad guys and with the new addition of the Zurkon Family upgrade, I have never laughed so much at a weapon in my life. ‘Mr. Zurkon does not require bolts, his currency is PAIN!’. I don’t normally whoop, but when I do whoop, it’s to a new weapon, dealing mirth-inducing death in Nexus.
Oh yes, upgrades. Each weapon, through use can be upgraded by three levels, adding special qualities. There’s also the option to fine tune your armoury through the in game shops that offer purchases for the price of collected bolts you’ll collect, scattered in boxes and given by defeated foes. Using raritarium, a mineral that can be found scattered throughout levels or dropped from enemies, you can use each gun’s grid to update your ammo clip, range and other bits and bobs. If you surround a green sector by buying said upgrades, you’ll unlock an extra special attribute to your weapon too.
As always, the graphics are smooth, suitably cartoony and the scenery is stunning at every step. Worlds are rich with their own personality and each have their own denizens and distractions. The characters are animated to Pixar standard and the voice acting goes without question as to how good it always has been. It’s rare that games capture a true sense of humour, but the cast manage to raise quite a few chuckles during the tale, dark though it is and inject the charm normally seen in the series.
Gameplay is tight, offering the same balance of gun-play and airtight platforming with a range of abilities at your command, I never found myself juggling controls, as everything is intuitive and all simple to master. Speaking of mastering things, there’s a new trophy system that allows you to build up skill points to unlock various goodies from the title screen, such as cheats and gallery art. Completing the game gives you an option to play through challenge mode, which ramps up the difficulty and offers more leveling of weapons and the chance to pick up some of the hidden treasures you might have missed on the way.
The one problem that I had with Into the Nexus was that it’s too short… Short to the point of where I had completed most of the side missions and felt that there was still another half of a game to play through. Unfortunately, I was wrong.
Just as you feel you could play the game until the end of time, it stops suddenly. I actually felt a bit lost after beating the end game boss and had to satiate my OCD bolt collecting by playing a bit of All-4-One to take the bitter taste out of my mouth. With that said, it’s still well worth the asking price, especially as you get a free download of Ratchet & Clank: The Quest for Booty with every purchase. That’s two half-games for a penny under £20, not too shabby for a couple of highly addictive games.
Being child friendly, you can purchase this for the kids and have a sneaky go yourself although it’s distinctly lacking multiplayer. That’s not a bad thing though, as there’s plenty of R&C games out there that you can play with friends.
If you find that your life is severely missing some laugh-inspiring, platform adventure, you would do no better than taking a visit to the Playstation Store and copping yourself a copy of Ratchet & Clank: Into the Nexus (or just Nexus if you’re a Brit like me).
You can purchase Ratchet’s new outing now, exclusively on the Playstation Store or at your local gaming retailer for a measly £19.99.