Sony’s long serving pair are back for another dose of platforming and mad scientist-style firearms. Let’s get straight to what you want to hear, yes, Ratchet & Clank: Nexus is a return to form after the misguided effort that was Q-Force. So, with no threats of ridiculous tower defence to worry about we’re free to enjoy the series as it was always meant to be.
That said, I’ve been surprised to see Insomniac continue to work on the series since they started working on non-Sony titles, but I supposed something has to pay the bills between Fuse and Sunset Overdrive (an upcoming Xbox One exclusive). This could explain why we’re getting a shorter Ratchet adventure than usual, but in fairness, it’s only £20.
It’s well worth the money too, providing around six hours for an initial playthrough. Then the usual endgame challenge modes, Gold Bolts, Omega weapons and come-get-me Platinum Trophy encourage extra runs through the game, which fans will dive straight into without even making a brew after the end credits.
For those of you wanting a direct follow-up to the excellent A Crack in Time (that’s everyone then), you’re probably going to have to wait for something on the PS4. This feels more like a quick adventure between seasons. It’s a good starting point for newcomers really.
Ratchet and his crew are transporting a prisoner through space and naturally, she escapes, meaning the duo are going to have to chase her around the local galaxy to chuck her back in the slammer. She’s no Dr. Nefarious, but she’s hell-bent on breaking into a netherworld dimension and bringing the evil creatures through from the other side, which isn’t going to be good for anyone. Actually, it’s a like a cuddly version of Beyond: Two Souls. Except you press buttons and have fun.
Captain Quark only has the briefest of appearances, which is a shame, as he’s the life of the party compared to Ratchet and Clank, who have always been a bit, well, boring. To be fair, there’s not much story for anyone to hog the spotlight. Nexus is more like a supply drop of new levels to remind fans why they fell in love with the gameplay in the first place.
Speaking of which, isn’t it about time somebody gave Insomniac a lifetime award for services to creative weaponry in gaming? I mean, it’s almost like nobody else is even trying. The brilliantly varied weapons can all be levelled up with use, encouraging you to try them all. Customisation options are somewhat limited compared to past games, but there’s enough scope to make it worth hoarding as much Raritanium as possible. There are sonic shotguns, laser snipers, grenades and so on, but there are some cool new toys too.
The Nightmare Box is a terrifying deployable jack-in-the-box that stuns enemies with fear or distracts them while you scurry for ammo or take advantage. Mr. Zurkon, your faithful psychotic drone, now levels up to bring in Mrs. Zurkon and Zurkon Jr, which is just genius. Just look out for them hogging all the carnage. Another new weapon unleashes large netherbeasts to sweep enemies away. Naturally, you’ll be on the lookout for the latest RYNO (Rip You a New One) weapon blueprints. If you’re feeling a bit Christmasy already, Insomniac has you covered with the Winteriser, a jolly ray that turns enemies into snowmen packed with presents, ammo and bolts.
Ratchet’s always been a class act with gadgets too. This time he has a new tether gun, which creates beams between panels to float over gaps. The jetpack has been refitted for use solely during dedicated sections of the game adding aerial combat to some stages, which works really well thanks to the aforementioned array of weapons. It’s seriously rewarding taking sweet revenge on flying enemies too.
Clank gets his own mini-stages in the netherworld in the shape of 2D platforming sections where you manipulate the directional pull of gravity with the right stick. They can be quite fiendish as you try to move sliding walls out the way by messing around with gravity. Throw in having to flee a netherbeast on your way out and things can get more than a little hairy.
There are only a handful of planets to explore -and one of those is an arena- but they feel fully fleshed out and offer a few hours of exploration each. The highlight of the lot is large swamp with lots of open water to fly above with the jetpack or boost over via ramps while hunting for alien horns. Other planets include futuristic cities, gladiatorial arenas, a tropical land, crab-infested caves, a flooded sewer, a creepy orphanage and more. With lots to find in each level, they feel like a solid return to form for the series. When you’re having this much fun though, it’s hard not to want more.
Playing the game in challenge mode (unlocked by finishing the game once) is key to replayability as it’s slightly tougher and lets you carry over your weapons and upgrades. Challenge mode also includes a combat multiplier, allowing you to collect larger amounts of currency for stringing together kills without taking damage. You see, it’s all the good stuff again.
How do I really know Ratchet & Clank are back on form? I was up until 2:45am finishing it the first time. Then I got up the next morning and played it again from start to finish. Anyway, enough talk, I have to go and make room for a new Platinum Trophy.
- Fun weapons
- Excellent Endgame
- Insomniac is still making Ratchet games
- Short (but it is cheap)
- Feels a bit like a stopgap
- Weapon customisation toned down
The Short Version: Ratchet & Clank are back in form and in style too. The series has ditched the co-op and tower defence for a focus on classic platforming and inventive weapons in one of the most moreish experiences of the year. It’s just a shame it’s so short, but the cheap price makes it feel like you get your money’s worth. Don’t leave us waiting on the PS4 too long, Insomniac.