Review: Ratchet & Clank: Nexus
Insomniac Games have tried to break away from the classic Ratchet & Clank formula on a number of occasions. They experimented on the PlayStation 2 with the combat focused Ratchet: Gladiator (or Deadlock), and tried out a number of strange ideas with the more recent entries on the PlayStation 3. This technically means it’s taken four years for Ratchet & Clank to return to form, and whilst Nexus might offer familiar gameplay, it’s the most fun I’ve had with the series in a long time.
At it’s peak, the Ratchet & Clank games worked because of their compelling mix of platforming and combat. When the series began to emphasise the latter, things didn’t go so well, but Nexus gets the balance just right. It brings back the sense of exploration that was most evident in the original PS2 games, but retains the perfected shooting and upgrade system from the more recent titles. It’s an addicting game where you’re constantly rewarded with new upgrades, abilities and gadgets. All help you explore the game’s beautiful world, and this keeps you motivated on your quest to amass a fortune in bolts and raritanium.
Whilst the gameplay is pretty much unchanged from A Crack in Time, Nexus introduces some new gravity based gadgets (and brings back a couple of old ones too). The hoverboots make a welcome return, and the jetpack allows for a really cool flying section. Here the world opens up, and this brings new possibilities for both combat and exploration. But it’s over too soon, and whilst it doesn’t take long for the game to get to the good bits, it’s also not long before you’ll be seeing the end credits.
This is a serious problem, and whilst Ratchet & Clank: Nexus might have zero filler, it’s also only about four hours long. The game moves at a satisfying pace, and there’s still enough time to purchase a decent variety of weapons and a selection of upgrades, but there’s only four planets to explore and once you reach the last one the game’s final sequence begins. If you’re looking for quality over quantity then Nexus might be a great game, but it’s not really worth the £19.99 price tag.
The story is also pretty weak, which is worth noting as other games in the series have had a fairly enjoyable narrative. The humour present in the other games isn’t really here, and other than the odd moment not much of the dialogue made me smile. Vendra, the game’s main antagonist, is initially described as being completely different to the villains Ratchet & Clank have previously faced. This is a lie, and she’s about as generic as they come. The overall story is oddly similar to that of Beyond: Two Souls, and aside from the lack of a shower scene it’s still the same concept of closing an unstable portal between here and the Infraworld (this time named the ‘Netherverse’). Although billed as an epilogue to the previous Future game on PlayStation 3, Nexus does little to resolve anything other than it’s own storyline, and doesn’t even attempt to conclude the series as a whole.
Lacklustre story aside, Ratchet & Clank: Nexus is still the most fun I’ve had with the series in years. There’s a lot of variety, and whilst it lasts it’s a brilliant game from start to finish. It’s up to you to decide if the price is a deal breaker though, as Nexus isn’t value for money. For under £10 you can pick up the original Ratchet & Clank Trilogy for PlayStation 2. That’s three games, Nexus is barely half the length of one of them.