Ratchet and Clank Nexus: review

With the PlayStation 3 now in its twilight years, you would think that the ageing console would be bereft of new titles to play, but the past few months have seen the PS3 host some of its best games, with The Last Of Us and Grand Theft Auto V being highlights. Now we have arguably the PlayStation’s biggest mascots back once more in Ratchet & Clank Nexus. With the last couple of titles deviating from the series’ roots by dabbling in co-op multiplayer and the tower defence genre, this new game returns to the platforming and shooting action of the originals. But is it a return to form, or should the series be laid to rest along with the PS3?

The adventure sees our intrepid duo attempting to thwart Vendra and Neftin Prog’s attempts to unleash Nether monsters into the galaxy from the Netherverse to cause mayhem and destruction throughout the galaxy. This takes our duo to various planets, which have their own distinct architecture and environments, from a swamp to a futuristic metropolis. While visiting planets the duo uncover more gadgets, weapons and upgrades to aid them on their quest. The story is actually pretty decent, with some compelling protagonists, and a story that doesn’t feel like a tired rerun of what’s happened previously in the series. There are also some nice nods to the past with one later level containing a museum to Ratchet & Clank’s previous heroic deeds, statues of defeated villains being particularly noteworthy. While the story is good the script isn’t as witty as other recent titles, and some of the jokes fall flat, which is disappointing when recent games were actually very sharp and humorous.

Visually Ratchet & Clank Nexus is as stunning as its forebears.

Once again the gadgets and weapons are the stars of the show, with the Gravity Tether being used to connect two points together to create a gravity beam to pull yourself over to distant platforms, or to trap enemies inside the beam. There are also Hover Boots which allow you to zoom around levels and launch yourself up the air, and a jet pack which is utilised on some stages to fly around like a feline Boba Fett. This gives you a lot more freedom in the levels, and you can tackle objectives in a different order. The weapons are once again a hilarious mix of the usual blasters, grenade and rocket launchers and the more obscure, like the Nightmare Box, which scares and distracts enemies with freaky jack-in-the-boxes. The Vortex Cannon creates a black hole that sucks nearby enemies to their doom; and the Winterizer creates a snow storm that turns enemies into snowmen while Jingle Bells plays in the background. All weapons are upgradeable by collecting Raritanium, which is dotted around the levels. There are also returning weapons like the Warmonger and Mr Zurkon, which make a welcome return, and there is even an arena section called Destructapalooza, where contestants get to compete in a gladiator-like arena which rewards you Raritanium and bolts after each round, with a prize for winning each of the three cups by defeating giant bosses.

The Winterizer is a new addition to Ratchet’s arsenal.

The game is action packed, and some gravity-defying levels are reminiscent of Super Mario Galaxy with Ratchet walking around spaceships and jumping between floating space debris. While series veterans will enjoy these sections, they are split up neatly by Clank’s levels which are almost a separate game in their own right. These sections take Clank on a side scrolling adventure to the Netherverse with the controller used to manipulate gravity to steer Clank to the end of the level and back, with a Nether creature chasing him on his return. These levels reminded us of some of the gravity flipping levels of Limbo, and are a welcome diversion from Ratchet’s more traditional sections.

A criticism that could be levelled at the game is its length, which is significantly less than some of the duo’s other main adventures, and completion is achievable in a mere 6 or 7 hours. However with a price point of £20, and the addition of the harder Challenge Mode when you complete the game that enables you to unlock Omega weapons, you can easily forgive this shortcoming. There is also a distinct lack of puzzles, with Clank’s levels being the closest to testing the grey matter. Rail grinding levels are also sadly absent, which were highlights of previous games, with Nexus relying on gravity-defying antics instead. The lack of any form of multiplayer is also a disappointment, and it would have been nice to have a co-op option to play with friends.

Certain levels are reminiscent of the Super Mario Galaxy games.

Ratchet and Clank Nexus is nonetheless a return to form for a series that perhaps had strayed too far away from its successful formula. It revisits the glory days of the series, while also having enough new nuts and bolts (pun intended) to advance the series in new ways, and make sure that the duo’s swan song on the PS3 is a celebration of the past as well as a triumphant look to the future.

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Written by Kevin M

I've been addicted to gaming since my parents bought an Atari console way back in the 70's. I progressed to the iconic Speccy, Amiga, and all the Playstation platforms. Having seen games evolve from single pixel bat and ball, to HD constructed environments, gaming has changed much from my early years. Having defeated the rock hard R-Type on the Speccy, the biggest challenge I've faced so far is putting up with the hordes of American teens spouting abuse in the current generation of consoles, noob indeed!

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