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Ratchet & Clank Retrospective - Future: A Crack in Time

RK128

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This conclusion to the Future Series continues this Ratchet Retrospective! Releasing in 2009, this concludes the story Tools of Destruction and A Quest for Booty tried to tell. Will Ratchet find the Lombaxs? Where IS Clank? And why is an old foe returning?

Lets read this retrospective and find out.



History:
This game was announced early 2009 with a really impressive teaser showing a small orb moving through a clock with a lot of gears, closing with a picture of two Lombax's and an older Lombax warrior turns to the camera, saying "Are you ready?" before flying off and the logo hits the screen; Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time.



The title was planed to be a strong conclusion to the Ratchet series as a whole, with the plot lines introduced in the earlier Future titles being wrapped up and Insomniac wanting the origins for both Ratchet and Clank to be resolved by the end of this adventure.

New mechanics were introduced such as the hoverboots to push for faster navagation across larger maps, time-based puzzles for Clank and open space exploration to really hit that exploration feeling home. It was also the first time in the series were we got a new composer making music; Boris Salchow takes the help of A Crack in Times score.

People were impressed with the title when it was demoed and showed off, with it having a successful launch in 2009. It got some of the highest scores in the series history (next to the PS2 titles) and people to this day regard it as one of the series best adventures alongside Going Commando/Ratchet 2 and Up Your Arsenal/Ratchet 3.

Story:
The plot continues where Quest for Booty left off, with Ratchet and Talwyn finding out where Clank is and learns that Dr. Nefarious from Ratchet 3 is with him. So, Ratchet rushes to the Polaris Galaxy with Captian Quark joining the ride while Clank wakes up inside this place called the Great Clock, where Dr. Nefarious is causing havok looking for the robot. He stuns Clank and leaves, letting him wake up later and him meeting Sigmund (voice by Nathan Drake himself; Nolan North!).



Ratchet & Quark crash land on a jungle planet where time is all out of wack and after various events happen, Ratchet sets off to explore space to find another Lombax, named General Azmith.



The story is less humorous compared to past titles but that is fine, as this serious story where Clank and Ratchet learn about themselves and their history was enjoyable. Ratchet learning where the other Lombax's are and Clank discovering he wasn't just an mistake in a robot factory are just some of the plot lines explored in this game.

I also love Nefarious coming back with Laurence, Quark stealing the show whenever he is on screen and Azmeth being a strong character; he has motivations for his actions and its nice seeing Ratchet have a father-figure for a significant portion of the game. It also helps that he is one of the best boss fights in the series and his introduction was very impressive.



I liked this story but it is not my favorite in the series; that honor still goes to Up Your Arsenal.

Gameplay:
Will say this right now, the jump from Tools of Destruction/Quest for Booty to A Crack in Time is HUGE. Everything and I mean everything got improved. But lets take it one step at a time.



Lets go over one big thing first; the game is called Ratchet & Clank, but they don't meet up until very late in the game. But both still get a lot of screen time with Clank having lengthy puzzle sections and Ratchet taking up a good 60% of gameplay time.

Okay, now we can go over Ratchet's gameplay. His control feels very tight and responsive compared to Tools, with things feeling far more 'instant'. Not to mention some smart choices (wrench throw being more instant, gadgets mapped to the D-Pad) makes 'small' things feel better then before.

Ratchet's combat is better then ever, with a great line up of weapons to play with and every tool being great to use. The 'Devices' are gone and the popular ones like Mr. Zurkon and the Groveatron become full-on weapons now. We also get special Constructo Guns (Blaster, Bomb, Shotgun) that can be upgrade with mods you find across the level; you are pushed into platforming to get more tools to mess around with and that is a smart design choice.



Other fun weapons include the Sonic Eruptor which is like a Shotgun but it being a living creature using a mating call for a powerful attack and a fun black-hole gun that summons a Cathulu tentacles to pull your foes into a void-less sky. We also get the Spiral of Death, the first fan-made weapon to ever grace the series; its cool that this appears in the Ratchet Movie as well.



So, the weapons are fun and core gameplay is better then ever. What else is there to cover for Ratchet? Well, the level designs are far more closed in, with exploration pushed but not enough. Tools had large levels to explore with Crack in Time having smaller locations for main levels. This is fixed with the moons you can explore though.

We also get to tap our inner Sonic the Hedgehog with Ratchet's hoverboots. They allow him to hover in the air (replacing Clank) and being able to go very fast across large landscapes. Very useful to get from point A too point B very fast. We also get a few parts where these shine, like its introduction level where Ratchet spins, bounces and flies across large gaps of level; very fun and made me think of the Sonic series at points.



Ratchet can explore space now with his ship and once you are in space, no load times for bouncing between the moons. This means that you could visit each moon and get everything without jumping into a loading screen! But the moons offer little challenges like races with your hoverboots, small platforming levels and combat waves to get through.



You are rewarded with Gold Bolts (buy costumes), Mods (used for Constructo Weapons) and Zoni (little creatures that can upgrade your ship). These are great rewards and with the iconic arena returning from past titles, you have a lot to do with Ratchet. His ship also has a few combat sections but they are very minor; very simple gameplay wise and not really that engaging.

Clank is interesting though, as his gameplay is completely different from ANY gameplay style in the series then and now. You have Clank being able to push his time abilities from Tools even further by making copies of himself and you can 'record' actions they do. So, you can have copy A step on switch, copy B defending copy A from foes, copy C running toward the exit. That is just one of the many puzzles you will solve.



Clank also has a staff that can be used for fighting, time bombs that freeze everything for a short while and a great triple jump. He is far more useful then any other incarnation of Clank and his levels are a great way to break up the action.

Presentation:
This game looks great to me, with bright colors, detailed locations and some impressive animation. That is the one thing I took away, as Ratchet has far better animations compared to his ones in Tools of Destruction. Cut-scenes are also very impressive too and feel like literal movie clips.



The game also has a really nice touch; weapons movies that have an animated Ratchet react to different weapons being used when he gets them. They are funny, well animated and are very funny!



Musically, its just okay. With the main series composer being gone and replaced with a new guy, the series got a more movie-based score. I did like a number of the tracks though and they do fit nicely when you are playing the game.

Main Menu Theme: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BvXaLlMPxOI&index=3&list=PLwxLlSv5mvIaDxoYlFOPKZGOX19AOCWn1
The Caretaker's Awakening: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bO_kKavs_9c&list=PLwxLlSv5mvIaDxoYlFOPKZGOX19AOCWn1&index=4
Lumos - Krell Canyon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U_wgj_nbbsE&list=PLwxLlSv5mvIaDxoYlFOPKZGOX19AOCWn1&index=114
Nefarious Space Station - The Battle for Time: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CT75_TnV6Xk&index=189&list=PLwxLlSv5mvIaDxoYlFOPKZGOX19AOCWn1
The Great Clock - Heroes Collide: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tY32KbAJlyE&list=PLwxLlSv5mvIaDxoYlFOPKZGOX19AOCWn1&index=192

Overall:
This is a great action platform that could of been a nice conclusion to the Ratchet series. A lot of lose ends got wrapped up, the ending is heartwarming and I loved the character growth everyone got here. Not to mention we got strongest gameplay for the series since the PS2 Era Ratchet titles.

Fantastic game and while not my favorite game in the series, very close to Ratchet 3 and 2 to me.

 

Peff

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Dec 10, 2008
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Awesome game, probably up there with Going Commando as the best of the series. It's too bad that the game that did the most to revitalize the formula with an open-world-esque galaxy that had small pockets of focused shooting or platforming never got an expanded follow-up, but at least we're back on track now.
 

5taquitos

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Man, this game was so good. It pretty much nailed all of the things that made Ratchet great. it just needed more large worlds.
 

OfTheOverflow

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Absolute must-play for fans of the newest game who mightn't have played this game. Adored every minute spent getting the platinum, too, and if I remember correctly it was a decent amount longer and more full of content then R&C 2016.
 

RK128

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Absolute must-play for fans of the newest game who mightn't have played this game. Adored every minute spent getting the platinum, too, and if I remember correctly it was a decent amount longer and more full of content then R&C 2016.
Between all the main planets, the smaller planets to explore and the Clank puzzles to complete......I wouldn't be surprised if A Crack in Time was twice as long compared to Ratchet 2016.

To be fair to that game though, it likely was made on a smaller budget and was less of a priority to Insomniac (which was making Sunset Overdrive and other project while Ratchet 2016 was in development).

Its a damn good game, but not as long compared to other main-line Ratchets.
 

RK128

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I took several of the screenshots in the OP. ;)

Definitely Top 3 Ratchet game.
Its an honor that someone from Insomniac is posting in one of my Ratchet Retrospectives! Thank you for posting here and I hope you enjoyed my coverage on the series thus far :).

You took great screenshots by the way :).
 

Shiny Braixen

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Sep 26, 2015
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Oh dang I think either this one or UYA is my personal fave! (Totally one-shotted ACIT back when I finally got the chance to play it.)

The Clank time-manipulation puzzles are to this day one of my favorite things I've done in a video game. I need more time-clone-puzzle-things in my life.
 

UnluckyKate

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This game is god thier. The gameplay is perfected. The weapons are amazing (best RYNO,Symphonic Ouverture when raining death upon everything in front of you) it has also the best shotgun, the banshee, giving a timing mechanics to optimized the burst dmg of the shotgun it was a great idea instead of just spamming.

It has the overboot, making some exploration and plateforming at high speed very satisfying, the tiny planets, the best time puzzle in challenge mode sometimes very hard, best story with the dramatic turns of event and fate of Lombaxes and Azimuth... The arena was insane, the smuggler was in there too...

No this game is the pinacle of R&C games
 

RK128

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I really loved a Crack in Time. Everything just worked. The platforming, the puzzles, the weapons, the hover boots, all were just so great. Also one of my personal favourite tracks from the series.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PylsetNdkQ4
Man, I feel bad for completely glossing over the radio stations.....will update the OP later to include those, as they held a lot of fun easter eggs for the series and have the best tracks in the game!
 

bbkkristian

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I may need to pick up a copy of A Crack in Time for collection purposes. I borrowed it from my sister when I originally played it. I loved every bit and would go back to play it after I beat R&C2016.
 

dralla

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Tools of Destruction felt like the Ratchet PS2 games running at a higher res, it left a slightly sour taste in my mouth. ACiT was everything a PS3 Ratchet should've been. It's by far my favorite game in the series and it's tied with Sunset Overdrive as my favorite Insmoniac game's to date. The explorable planetoids were so great. Hopefully if we get another Ratchet PS4 game they'll bring them back
 

Raonak

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My second favourite R&C game after Up Your Arsenal.

I was dissapointed by the story personally, it felt like they never really planned out how the story was gonna go.

Weapons and gameplay were solid. Loved the moons too
 

RK128

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I would guess that the story didn't have as much humor compared to the past titles, which I would agree with, and that being enough of a problem to bother that poster.

I enjoy the story a great deal myself, but I would agree that its lacking regarding the humor aspect (though the game is still quite funny at points).
 

SlipperyMoose

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This is probably my favorite ratchet game. It is the culmination of everything I love from the previous games and moved the series forward with new gameplay elements. Also the game is gorgeous. And there is another fucking Lombax in the game!
 

PaulloDEC

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Probably my favourite of the Ratchet games too. Things like the hover boots, the explorable moons and the Constructo™ weapons (seriously, bring these back please) made this one an absolute blast for me. Loved some of the standard weapons too, like the Spiral of Death and the Sonic Eruptor.

Hopefully the success of Ratchet 2016 means we'll see another installment like this one sooner or later.
 

RK128

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Probably my favourite of the Ratchet games too. Things like the hover boots, the explorable moons and the Constructo™ weapons (seriously, bring these back please) made this one an absolute blast for me. Loved some of the standard weapons too, like the Spiral of Death and the Sonic Eruptor.

Hopefully the success of Ratchet 2016 means we'll see another installment like this one sooner or later
.
I think the bolded will ensure Insomniac goes back to the IP for future releases; its an IP that will make them money and if they keep the high quality like the 2016 game got, it will continue to sell.

I wouldn't be surprised if we went back to the Future series with another game that answers any left over questions that Into the Nexus never answered.
 

Acorn

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Can't believe it's 7 freaking years. I feel old as shit, one of my favourite games ever. Best non Nintendo mascot type game I've ever played.
 

Aureon

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Crack in Time is a very good R&C on it's own, but two things elevate it:

- Having an actual story you could reasonably care about
And far more importantly
- Ryno V playing the Overture 1812 with the gun barrels, and launching missiles on cannon sounds.
That was genius.
 

RK128

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Crack in Time is a very good R&C on it's own, but two things elevate it:

- Having an actual story you could reasonably care about
And far more importantly
- Ryno V playing the Overture 1812 with the gun barrels, and launching missiles on cannon sounds.
That was genius.
Man, the RYNO V.....best weapon ever :'). Didn't mention it so I wouldn't ruin the surprise for others jumping into this for the first time (that is why I avoided story spoilers too).
 

Ravage

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The hoverboot and time puzzle segments are godly in this game. It would be amazing if these two elements are fully integrated into the combat.
 
Jan 8, 2016
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This game is perfect. Semi open world, good graphics, story, puzzles (time chamber puzzles are the best). A masterpiece.
 
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One of my least liked R&C entries. Well, of the main series anyway. It's the only one I have no inclination to replay from the beginning.

An overly repetitive second half, annoying Clank sections and an awful final boss are the reasons why.
 

Veldin

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Listening to Deep Space Jams while exploring the galaxy and hopping around moons was one of the most enjoyable experiences in video games. Best R&C easily. I hope the next game brings back CiT's structure and Constructo weapons.
 

NateDog

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Great retrospective OP, not sure how I didn't know you did these so often. I completely agree with your feelings towards it too. I was quite disappointed by ToD, I felt it was a step-back from the PS2 titles and in ways it almost felt soulless (although that part could be my mind tricking me). ACiT was a big improvement on everything in ToD and was definitely enjoyable, it still didn't have that draw that 2 and 3 had though when it came to replays and humour and other things. Still definitely an improvement. I haven't touched the series since it though. Would you recommend any of the newer titles?
 

Maledict

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Going to be the sole dissenter, but I thought Crack in Time was a significant step down from Tools, and the weakest mainline game since the original.

The weapons weren't fun, and placed way too much emphasis on the extremely boring 'construct your one weapon' kits that did not work at all.

Weapons no longer had the upgrade paths with raratanium from Tools, which significantly reduced the number of options you had and took away a fun sub-game.

There were no 'exploration' planets - instead, they had been replaced by the fun but tiny plat forming sub worlds. Every main level was a corridor from A to B.

The spaceship combat was terrible - after the fantastic, beautiful fun that was the spaceship sections in Tools, it was replaced by the tedious and unloseable spaceship combat sections against identical baddies in every system that was nothing but tedious.

Levels lacked the flair and design of other games - instead, they relied on throwing tons and tons of enemies at you, in wave after wave, that just became tedious. The last level in particular really suffered from this - there's only so many times you can stand in one spot whilst another shipload of robots arrives.

The story was completely disconnected from what happened before (Tools) and what happened after (Into the Nexus). Characters disappeared, and then reappeared in nexus without explanation.

Whilst it looked beautiful, and still had a lot of ratchet and clank fun, Crack in Time was definitely the weakest of the mainline games I've played barring the original remastered.
 

RK128

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Going to be the sole dissenter, but I thought Crack in Time was a significant step down from Tools, and the weakest mainline game since the original.

The weapons weren't fun, and placed way too much emphasis on the extremely boring 'construct your one weapon' kits that did not work at all.

Weapons no longer had the upgrade paths with raratanium from Tools, which significantly reduced the number of options you had and took away a fun sub-game.

There were no 'exploration' planets - instead, they had been replaced by the fun but tiny plat forming sub worlds. Every main level was a corridor from A to B.

The spaceship combat was terrible - after the fantastic, beautiful fun that was the spaceship sections in Tools, it was replaced by the tedious and unloseable spaceship combat sections against identical baddies in every system that was nothing but tedious.

Levels lacked the flair and design of other games - instead, they relied on throwing tons and tons of enemies at you, in wave after wave, that just became tedious. The last level in particular really suffered from this - there's only so many times you can stand in one spot whilst another shipload of robots arrives.

The story was completely disconnected from what happened before (Tools) and what happened after (Into the Nexus). Characters disappeared, and then reappeared in nexus without explanation.

Whilst it looked beautiful, and still had a lot of ratchet and clank fun, Crack in Time was definitely the weakest of the mainline games I've played barring the original remastered.
I agree with you regarding the spaceship combat, which was why I glossed over it in the OP. The Tools ones really feel like fun Star Fox levels at points.

I enjoyed the weapon line up here, but I enjoyed ones in Ratchet 2 & 3 more though (outside some key weapons; the Groveatron and Mr. Zurkon man, they need to be in every Ratchet XD!).

Also agree with you on the story; shame that some characters that popped up in Tools vanished in Crack in Time. I disagree with you about CiT characters missing from Nexus; Clank's plot line was resolved by the end, so having the zoni around would be cool, but not needed.
 

RK128

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Thank you all for reading through my Ratchet Retrospectives; this series has been a great ride and we still have a few more games left to cover :).

All 4 One will be covered in a few days, as I am going to play through some of the game again (full beat it on my own in the past) with another Gaffer but if anyone else wants to join us, feel free to drop a PM with your PSN name or just leave your PSN name via post :D.

Covering Full Frontal Assault on my own (as its a more traditional Ratchet game) and before I cover Into the Nexus will be making a thread covering the series multimedia ventures like its fun comic and the recently released film.

Into the Nexus will close the Retrospective and the PSP titles will be 'extra' games I cover. Don't own a PlayStation 4 as of now, so cannot cover the PS4 game to close this Retrospective off :(. But, will be getting one in the future, so hopefully that Retrospective for that will release sometime in July or August the latest.
 
Jun 2, 2013
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Man I loved this game so much. The Future Trilogy were all great games and so was Nexus but I think A Crack in Time was my favourite. Excellent graphics, likeable characters, great story and awesome weapons, just everything needed to make a brilliant game.

Makes me want to play them again now, will have to dig them out at some point, after I finish R&C on PS4.
 

SoraanTribal

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A Crack in Time might actually be my favorite entry in the series. Loved the gameplay, story, and the worlds. So tempting to replay it after this thread.
 

RK128

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Man I loved this game so much. The Future Trilogy were all great games and so was Nexus but I think A Crack in Time was my favourite. Excellent graphics, likeable characters, great story and awesome weapons, just everything needed to make a brilliant game.

Makes me want to play them again now, will have to dig them out at some point, after I finish R&C on PS4.
If Nexus was a bit longer and had a more stable frame rate, I would rank it higher regarding top Ratchet games honestly. Will explain thoughts when I get to it but its a great title.

Happy you loved the Future Series so much and I hope they have a collection port on PS4 in the future. Great way to tied-over games looking for more Ratchet & Clank for next year :).
 

GeoramA

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My favorite last gen game. R&C 2016 is great, but ACiT is just such a massive, large-scale game compared to it. I hope we get another just like it.
 

AndyD

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Jan 24, 2007
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Loved it. Least favorite part was the arcade game that you had to beat for a trophy. Only thing keeping me from the Platinum.