Review: Ratchet & Clank: Into the Nexus

Ratchet & Clank: Into the Nexus represents an end of an era. This is the finale to the Ratchet & Clank Future arc that began in 2007 on the PS3.  It is potentially also Insomniac Games and Sony’s last project together as the studio turns to Microsoft for future projects.  It may not be a full length title, but does Ratchet & Clank: Into the Nexus provide the perfect ending to a generation-long story, or is this merely a cheap cash-in?

Ratchet & Clank: Into the Nexus takes place after the events of Ratchet & Clank: A Crack in Time.  Both Ratchet and Clank have been tasked with escorting dangerous villain Vendra Prog to prison.  In the middle of the escort, her brother Neftin Prog attacks the ship and sets her free.  Making their escape and destroying the ship, Ratchet and Clank follow them to a haunted planet where they discover a dastardly plan that could threaten the entire galaxy.

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The story may be short, but it is very enjoyable.  The smart writing that the franchise is well known for is present here.  There is plenty of witty dialogue and interesting characters to go around.  New characters Vendra and Neftin in particular are welcome additions and end up making great villains. The story does have a few downsides, however.  The plot twists are entirely expected and predictable, which is disappointing considering some of the ones in the previous Future titles were excellent.  Characters like Captain Qwark, Cronk and Zephyr appear only briefly in the story.  Characters like Qwark mean a lot to fans of the franchise, so it is a bit disappointing that they didn’t get more screen time.

Sadly, this shortness is felt strongly in the game’s design.  Into the Nexus can easily be beaten between 3-5 hours depending on the difficulty.  Only five planets are available for exploration, though one of them is only a simple coliseum with Bronze, Silver and Gold challenges to tackle. There is a New Game+ option that allows you to carry over all of your progress from your previous playthrough, however.  While there isn’t any new content, you will need to do this if you want to collect and upgrade every weapon and armor.  The game is short and there are lots of weapons to buy, which makes it difficult to collect all of them and upgrade them in just one playthrough.  It’s a great incentive to replay especially if you enjoyed the story.

Gameplay is airlifted straight from the previous games.  Ratchet still has his wrench and can wield all manner of different guns.  Interesting new additions like the Netherbeast and Nightmare Box are fun to use, but the high cost of some of the weapons means that you might not be able to try them in your first playthrough.

There are a few new additions to the gameplay, but Insomniac completely fails to let players try them outside of a few areas.  Into the Nexus allows Clank to enter rifts that act as platforming challenges.  Players can control gravity to solve puzzles and lead him to a Nether, which he then must lead back to the portal he entered it from.  These are rather interesting and unique, but there are only five rifts in the entire game.

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This is also true of the Jetpack and Hoverboots.  There are only specific areas on certain planets where you can use both of these items. On some planets they can’t be used at all.  It’s a huge shame as sniping enemies while flying high in the air and performing leap-after-leap with the Hoverboots is actually very enjoyable.

2013 has been a great year for PS3 games with The Last of Us and Beyond: Two Souls delivering some of the best visuals of this-generation.  Sadly Ratchet & Clank: Into the Nexus doesn’t live up to those standards.  The game simply just looks fine.  There really haven’t been many changes since A Crack In Time two years ago. For the most part the game runs smoothly.  There aren’t any big glitches or screen tearing.  However, the framerate does take a dip when the screen fills with enemies and weapon fire.  You really don’t encounter this until the end of the game when the enemies become relentless in their quest to end your life.

Despite these problems, the feeling of fun is something that permeates the entire game no matter how short it is.  The Ratchet & Clank formula still works and works well.  The game isn’t hard, but still offers a good challenge that won’t make you angry.  It’s fun, and that’s the most important thing.

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Closing Comments:

Ratchet & Clank: Into the Nexus is a short epilogue that may leave dedicated fans of the franchise a bit disappointed.  Those that look past its length, however, will find an adventure worth having.  The writing, humor and beloved characters are all there along with addicting classic Ratchet & Clank gameplay.  Even with its flaws, you can’t really go wrong with this finale considering its low price tag.
Platform: PlayStation 3