One thing I will readily admit is that I’m not a veteran gamer. Not having a video game console for most of my life will kind of do that to you. Thankfully, though, to an abundance of free time, a large HDTV and no pesky girlfriend to spend money on, I can resolve that issue gradually. Not knowing what the heck kind of games is out there has its drawbacks now and then (I have a really small library of games), but it does have it’s positive upswings too, for instance, when I “discover” something new quite by accident.
This weekend while puttering around, I decided to check out the latest demos on the Playstation Network, and downloaded one for Ratchet and Clank Future: A Crack in Time. There were two demos, interestingly enough, one for Ratchet and one for Clank. I got Ratchet’s. As is with most demos, I wasn’t expecting much (it’s a pretty high failure rate when it comes to interest), but I fired it up to give it a whir.
The game dropped me in a weird landscape with a gun, and I kind of groaned to myself .. not another shooter. I suck at shooters, which is one reason I’ve been avoiding console gaming a lot. But, as I started playing it, here’s the sequence of thoughts that went through my head:
- How the heck do I shoot my gun?
- How do I shoot my special weapon?
- Holy crap, I have hoverboots?
- Oh my gosh, this game is fun!
- Repeat last step, about 500 times.
Heh. It was awesome. So much, in fact, that when I finished, it said that the game came out last Tuesday!? Well, you know what that means to a man who has spent his whole life evolving a careful sense of patience and self-mastery … I paid full price for it at Best Buy 15 minutes later.
I’ve since played through probably a third of the game, and I’m just now starting to lose steam. Wow, it is fun.
First of all, the graphics are absolutely amazing. It’s just eye-popping nice. I’m actually surprised that they’d put so much effort into the artwork for a game that is mainly for an audience much younger. But the quality shines through in every aspect so far.
The game has one of my favorite features of all time, too — no penalty for deaths. It just starts you back up where you left off. I love that. I’m sure one of the reasons I never had a console growing up was because I realized early on that it was an issue-aggragator rather than a calming, enjoyable experience. Let’s just say it’s a good thing that those Nintendo controllers were hard plastic — they could take a lot of damage at high velocity speeds.
Another really nice touch about the game is it has a degree of free-range movement. There are lots of different places you can go, and while the storyline is linear, you can take breaks from it and go back to where you were before to finish things up or just screw around. Its fun. It gives you enough freedom to screw around if you want, or get into a serious adventure if you’re up for the run.
The only thing I don’t like about it is playing as Clank. So far, it’s just a chore.
The storyline is great, too, and there is some great dialogue / writing in there. Really original and funny. Something else I really enjoy too is the ability for the character to upgrade himself and his weapons. I grew up with the gold-box of AD&D gaming, and I always loved levelling my guys. This isn’t the same level of complexity, but still I think it’s a nice touch that your character’s abilities improve as the guys get harder in the game. It only seems fair.
All around, a really awesome game. And it turns out, as I discovered, that there’s apparently a whole series of Ratchet and Clank games, too. I’m really skeptical that any of the others would be nearly as good as this one, but who knows. At least they’re not as expensive by now.