Ratchet & Clank: Nexus (PlayStation 3)

Developer(s) – Insomniac Games

Publisher(s) – Sony Computer Entertainment

Director – Grady Hunt

Producer – Caley Roberts

Ratchet & Clank: Nexus, or Into the Nexus as it was called in North America, was developed to serve as an epilogue to the Ratchet and Clank Future series on PlayStation 3. Overall, I was entertained by this title, but it does indeed have its faults. It was loosely based on a cancelled project of the same name, but interestingly, another working title was Into the Nether Regions, which would’ve continued the prolonged use of innuendo synonymous with the series. I think the gameplay is satisfying and the comedic element is ever present, but it did ultimately leave me wanting more at the end.

Graphics – 8.5/10

In lieu of Ratchet and Clank tradition, the game’s settings are wonderfully and intricately designed; as indeed is the wide arsenal of weapons available to the player. Weapons added to the series include a gun that shoots enemies to fight enemies, grenades, which fire ghosts to scare enemies and an amusing alternative on the classic Mr. Zurkon weapon that when fully upgraded doesn’t just deploy Mr. Zurkon, but also his wife Mrs. Zurkon and their son, Zurkon Jnr. But where the visuals lose marks is that in certain areas of the game, there was an intended element of horror; mostly in the various caves that must be traversed. But I wasn’t particularly scared. If anything, I was actually impressed with both the use of lighting in the caves and how Clank can deploy a new gadget, which acts as a torch to light their way through. The worst part about the visuals, however, is the fact that Ratchet & Clank: Nexus runs at 30 frames per second. This has also been done in the last two spin-off Ratchet & Clank games as well, and for me, it eliminates the feel of smoothness throughout the game and fluency during combat. I hope that they refer back to 60 frames per second for future games, because for me in particular, it is a pretty big setback.

Gameplay – 7.5/10

Although there have been new weapons added to the set-up and new gameplay elements put in to replace old ones to maintain variety (indeed, I very much enjoyed the 2D side-scrolling elements of Clank’s individual parts), I did still have a few issues with how the game plays out overall. I can deal with the fact that it does essentially play out like any other game in the series, but I couldn’t help but feel that newer gameplay elements added weren’t as elaborate or as enjoyable as ones they have replaced. For example, Clank’s 2D side-scrolling sequences, as enjoyable as they were, weren’t anywhere near as enjoyable as his sequences in A Crack in Time, which had much more variety and substance. Another Ratchet & Clank gameplay element I was sorry to see depart was the Lylatwars-like travel method, which has been replaced by a fast travel system, much to my dismay. That in particular would imply laziness on the part of the developers to me; coupled with the fact that there is a reduced number of side quests compared to other entries in the series.

Controls – 10/10

This game does essentially play out like any other in the series at the end of the day. By that token, there are absolutely no problems with the controls. In fact, the strafe ability has actually been improved by allowing players to perform double jumps whilst strafing from side to side. In the absence of 60 frames per second, whilst not completely making up for it, the improved strafe mechanics add more fluency in combat, and it’s something I would like to see return to the series as a stable control scheme element.

Lifespan – 5/10

The worst thing about this game is how criminally short it lasts. I should think it would take player a maximum of six hours to complete this game, which for a Ratchet & Clank game, is unacceptable; especially given the fact that Insomniac had four years to complete it after they released A Crack in Time. In my opinion, they should have aid off developing two spin-offs, and they shouldn’t have even bothered releasing Fuse, as truth be told, it is a wretched game. What they could have done was made Nexus into a full-length game and do with it what had been done with several other PlayStation 3 games, and make Nexus part of Sony’s digital upgrade programme, allowing players to play the game on the PlayStation 4. That way, not only would this have boosted sales of the game and critical reception dramatically, but also raised the profile of the franchise and created more of a buzz amongst Sony’s fans, making them anticipate the next game in the series even more; indeed it does seem like there will be one, as the end of Nexus implies there will be another game.

Storyline – 7/10

I personally see the story in Nexus as a step down in the pretty high standards that Insomniac set with A Crack in Time. It’s nowhere near as elaborate and it only makes the game feel even more rushed overall. The story follows Ratchet and Clank who, whilst tasked with delivering the known criminal Vendra Prog, have their ship attacked by Vendra’s twin brother Neftin who springs her from prison. The duo embarks on an adventure to recapture the two siblings before they can carry out their plans of starting an alien invasion. The best thing about the game’s plot is that the quirky sense of humour eternally associated with the series is ever present, with characters such as Cronk & Zephyr and my personal favourite, Captain Qwark. But although there are some particularly funny moments throughout, it just seems nowhere near as engrossing or as memorable as other Ratchet & Clank games, and I think there were ways which they could have expanded it to make the game last longer.

Originality – 7/10

With a fair few new gameplay elements added to the mix, the series is kept relatively fresh, but with them not being as elaborate as other found in the series, it doesn’t make Nexus stand out to any notable extent. The most unique thing about this entry is Clank’s new gameplay element. But although I’ve never played a game with anti-gravity 2D side-scrolling elements before, I still feel as if there was more that could be added to this as opposed to Insomniac focusing their efforts elsewhere over the last four years.

To sum up, Ratchet & Clank: Nexus is a satisfying game to play for how short it is, but I still think that it seems far too rushed and that a lot more could have been added to it to make evermore appealing. Establishing all these opinions does make me thankful that I didn’t pay full price for it.

Score

45/60

7.5/10 (Good)

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