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Best of 2009 - Ratchet and Clank Future: A Crack in Time

As one year transitions into the next, I find it a healthy and refreshing endeavor to look back upon the past year and reflect upon those experiences which touched me the most; to discover which games stood tall above the rest and, for one reason or another, made a lasting impression.

Over the next few days, I will be sharing my own personal list of the ten best games of 2009, followed by those that didn't quite make the top ten and even a few of my greatest disappointments of the year. These are in no particular order, but they are the games I found most worthy of praise. Reflecting upon them makes one thing clear: it was a great year for gaming.

It’s nice to be reminded in this age of grit, dirt, grime, and seas of brown that colors are occasionally fun as well.

A Crack in Time not only stands proudly by its use of colorful visuals, but it does so in a way that creates what is undoubtedly one of the prettiest games of the year.

Not bad for a game that practically flies in the face of current mainstream artistic preferences. 

Honestly I don’t really know what to say about this series that I haven’t said before except that it’s simply astounding that it’s still this much fun after so many iterations. No one other than Nintendo has managed to produce gameplay formulas that are this consistently entertaining. I’ve played and beaten every game in the series so far, making for eight games total including this one, and I’m still completely in love with it. That’s damn near a better track record than Zelda.

There’s just nothing this game doesn’t do right. The humor is consistent and entertaining. The writing is great. The storyline itself is the most interesting it’s ever been. The weapons are fantastically imaginative and, even better, fun to use.  The gameplay is varied and well-paced, with plenty of side quests, diversions, and mix-ups so that you never get bored of doing the same thing. The ability of weapons to level up as you use them provides a great reward system and a little dose of RPG to keep things interesting. 

Even one of the biggest faults of the previous PS3 iteration has been fixed. A Crack in Time introduces so much to do, so much to collect, and a Challenge Mode that gives even players like myself incentive to play through the whole darn thing again that replay value is no longer an issue at all.

As if the experience itself wasn’t motivation enough to pick the game up again.

On top of everything else, A Crack in Time finally, finally, gives Clank a gameplay role that is nearly as compelling as Ratchet’s. After years of being sidelined to mini-games and other activities that were fun changes of pace but little more, Clank finally gets a starring role in fantastic new puzzle sections that are worthy of standing beside Ratchet’s sections as a core part of the experience.

It is too bad that this had to come at the cost of some of the wonderful interaction between the two lead characters that I’ve come to love so much as they had to be separated for most of the story, but the game never felt any less charming or humorous for it. Plus the game gained some unexpected emotional punch for just that reason, so I’d say the tradeoff was worth it.

Basically, A Crack in Time doesn’t bring enough new to the table that it will convert those who hate it for some unimaginable reason, but it does change things up enough that it feels fresh and magical all over again for those that have loved its special blend of herbs and spices in the past.

For continuing to be Ratchet and Clank but better than any other Ratchet and Clank has been Ratchet and Clank, Ratchet and Clank Future: A Crack in TIme is one of my Best Games of 2009. 

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