Developer: Insomniac Games
Insomniac Games and SCEA are geniuses. In most respects, Ratchet & Clank: Into The Nexus is pretty much exactly what you’d expect from a Ratchet & Clank game. Lots of neat weapons, some fun platforming, a decently funny script — basically, everything you’d find in A Crack In Time, or Tools of Destruction, or most of the other games in the series going back to the very first one a little over a decade ago.
Where does the genius come in? Right here: Into The Nexus comes not on the tail of A Crack In Time, which was amazing, but, rather, after a trio of games that are, to be kind, significantly less-than-amazing. First there was PlayStation Move Heroes, which brought together Ratchet and Clank, Jak and Daxter, and Sly Cooper and Bentley for a bunch of motion-controlled minigames. That was followed by All 4 One, in which Insomniac decided that what the series needed was an injection of multiplayer action, so they made you either play with someone else or stuck you with an AI partner. And, most recently, there was Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault, wherein we find out what happens when platforming is replaced by tower defense (short answer: nothing good).
While the quality of these three games ranges from “meh” (All 4 One) to absolutely abominable (Full Frontal Assault’s abysmal Vita port), collectively they lowered the standards and expectations for a new Ratchet & Clank game so far that mere competence could end up seeming like Game Of The Year material.
Luckily, Ratchet & Clank: Into The Nexus is a lot better than merely competent. It’s genuinely good, full of all the things you’d expect from Ratchet & Clank game. Different planets to explore, full of all kinds of aliens to fight? Check. Crazy, upgradeable weapons, ranging from simple laser guns to some box that unleashes angry, violent ghosts from another dimension? Check again. Random, self-aggrandizing cameos from Captain Quark? Go ahead and guess (spoiler: check).
Best of all, Into The Nexus’ one deviation from the standard formula is, for once, something that actually makes the game better. There are segments in the game where you take control of Clank in a 2D sidescroller, and you have to navigate around by changing gravity. These work because they’re short, they’re fun, and, perhaps most importantly, they don’t alter the core game in a significant way.
If there’s a criticism to be made of Into The Nexus, it’s that it’s a little on the short side, with the full campaign clocking in around five or six hours. That’s not my criticism, mind you: I’d much rather play a well-made game like this one, that does what it wants to do and then ends, than I would a game that’s packed full of pointless, endless filler. On this front, it helps that the game is priced at $30 rather than the usual $60.
Now, it’s entirely possible that I’m wrong, and that Ratchet & Clank: Into the Nexus is merely a mediocre game that only looks exceptional because of the horribleness that came before it. I mean, I don’t think that’s the case, since I had a lot of fun with it, but I should probably throw that out there as a possibility. Regardless of which is true — whether it’s a legitimately awesome game, or simply one that looks like it because it’s miles better than the execrable Full Frontal Assault — I can say this with certainty: if you’re a fan of the Ratchet & Clank series (or even if you just want a good 3D platformer) you owe it to yourself to check it out. The results, at the very least, won’t disappoint you.