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

Ratchet and Clank Future: A Crack in Time

Platform: Playstation 3

Release Date: October 27, 2009

Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment

Developer: Insomniac Games

Ratchet and Clank clearly borrows from the Nintendo school of sequel design. It has a core foundation that lies largely unchanged while the peripheral elements are shifted around enough from game to game to remain interesting and fresh. 

I have fallen deeply in love with the Ratchet and Clank series since first playing it in 2002. It has risen to become one of my favorite series of all time, right there next to Zelda and Mario. In fact, I have beaten more games in this series than perhaps any other, eight in total. I’ve loved each and every one of them dearly. 

No other series has managed to match Ratchet and Clank’s mix of precise platforming, hectic gunplay with unusual weaponry, occasional puzzles, and consistent humor. It is a blend unlike any other and each new concoction raises the bar and renews my love.

It is a treat to fire up a new Ratchet and Clank and find all the new wacky weapons they’ve given me to play around with, all the crazy worlds they’ve built for me to explore, and all the fun minigames and platforming segments they’ve thrown in to keep me on my toes. 

In fact, the consistent level of quality makes it insanely difficult for me to pick one of these brilliant games to hold above all the others. Each has virtues that make it worthy of high praise. In the end, as much as it saddens a certain part of me not to choose one of the earlier, undeniably classic games in the series, such as Going Commando or Up Your Arsenal, A Crack in Time represents everything Insomniac continues to do so right.

Being the sixth or seventh proper entry, depending on how you count it, it’s amazing A Crack in Time is worthy of mention at all. The fact that it is likely the best game in the entire series is almost unbelievable, but it’s true. 

Ratchet and Clank has always been a gorgeous series. The earlier games still hold up pretty well even by today’s standards. But A Crack in Time takes things to a new level entirely. It’s the closest gaming has ever come to making a Pixar movie happen in real-time and it still makes my jaw drop. 

A Crack in Time’s real triumph however, is making a long running series feel fresh and exciting all over again by bringing it back to its roots, retaining all of the elements that made previous titles so rewarding, and giving players tons of stuff to do and a compelling reason to do it in the form of a great story. 

The first Playstation 3 Ratchet game, Tools of Destruction, began a storyline that would continue through the downloadable title Quest for Booty and into A Crack in Time, which wraps the events of the arc up in compelling fashion. Ratchet and Clank has long been known for its terrific writing, memorable characters, and humor, but now it can be known for a little dose of touching drama as well, which is a nice change.

A Crack in Time also perfects certain series elements that have languished a bit since Up Your Arsenal. The platforming is more thrilling. The puzzles are fresh and the minigames fun. There is a huge amount of stuff to do, both before and after you beat the game, giving A Crack in Time replay value that Tools of Destruction lacked. Its arsenal of weapons is as inventive and fun to use as ever, and the addictive RPG mechanic that has you leveling up weapons the more you use them is just as strong a draw.

I still hold the early Ratchet and Clank titles dear to my heart. Choosing between them is nigh impossible and I could almost as easily have chosen another entrant to fill this position. But A Crack in Time truly represents a perfection of the formula this series has based itself upon and demonstrates just how continually entertaining it is even after this many sequels. 

That this series manages to exceed my high expectations with every entry and remain one of my favorite franchises in gaming is what I appreciate about it more than any individual element. That is what makes A Crack in Time one of my Best of the Decade. The fact that it might just be the best single entry anyway certainly doesn’t hurt.

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