Ratchet and Crank is one of the two titles Sony seems to be puching as their next big platforming series. Crash seems to have fallen out of the limelight (and onto the Xbox), so something must take his place on sony's popular console. While I'm not sure that Ratchet and Crank will be the title to do that, holds a certain amount of promise.
In the preview I recieved from E3 only one level is playable. Interestingly enough far more was playable on the show floor than on the preview disc. This is basically a tutorial of sorts, complete with help menus and a clear indication of goals. You play as Ratchet, a wanted felon who seems to be searching for a fellow named captain quark. You begin with a wrench/axe-like weapon and two optional attacks; a blaster and a flamethrower. You can purchase new weapons as well, but in this demo there are only two additional armaments. There's a rocket launcher and a 'glove of doom' which releases a bunch of tiny robots which attack everything in sight while making cute sounds of effort. You are joined in this journey by a robot who hangs out on ratchet's back. This is Clank of course, who can be upgraded to allow Ratchet access to new areas through the power of gliding and highjumps. The game promises lots of weapons, abilities and puzzles in which to use them, but what game doesn't nowadays?
The characters are all extremely well modeled, which is nice, but the game world is not as 'vibrantly detailed' as Insomnia would have you believe, at least at this stage. Perhaps this will change, but the architecture of the levels has a very familiar and average look. Explosions and effects are nothing to write home about either, but they get the job done. Actually what impressed me was the high quality of the nuts and bolts that are dropped by downed foes (this is the form of currency in Ratchet's world). As far as play, the game once again falls squarely into the 'average' category. The platforming elements are familiar, and the puzzles (at least at this point) look like they won't tax your brain much. One nice thing is that you can go wherever you want within the world. You're not quite on rails as much as has become common in this sort of game. But honestly the most fun I had with this game was finding glitches and more glitches. Like the easter egg hunts in the days of old (read 2600/odyssey/intellivision era), tracking down glitches in demos has long been an enjoyable pasttime for me. As you'll see in one of the videos, I discovered a place with a floating tree, which was the perfect location to snipe passing cars. And through the magic of borderless polygons I found a nice suit of armor for Ratchet.
I have to say, the dialogue is pretty funny. There's a video here which will give you a small sample of this. If they keep up that level of story, there may be something more to the game than I'm curently seeing.
Bottom line on the game is this: if you liked Crash, Gex, Jax & Daxter and their clones, and you want the next in line, this game is probably for you. If you want something new and exciting to revitalize the saturated platformer market, your wait continues. This basically feels like it was designed to be a 'me too' title used as filler until Sony can get a new system defining platformer.
Movies: Cinema, Gameplay 1, Gameplay 2, Gameplay 3, Gameplay 4, Sniping Cars!