Remembering Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time (2009)

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This conclusion to the Future Series closes 3WIREL’s romp across the series. Releasing in 2009, this concludes the story Tools of Destruction and A Quest for Booty tried to tell. Having a focus on story and in some ways, being the soft-ending to the entire franchise, this had high expectations. Will Ratchet find the Lombaxs? Where IS Clank? And why is an old foe returning?
We will find out together by exploring the stars one final time in this series of amazing games. Lets blast off and see what adventure awaits!

The History

This game was announced early 2009 with a really impressive teaser showing a small orb moving through a clock with a lot of gears, closing with a picture of two Lombax’s. An older Lombax warrior soon turns to the camera, saying “Are you ready?” before flying off. A logo hits the screen; Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time.

The title was planed to be a strong conclusion to the Ratchet series as a whole, with the plot lines introduced in the earlier Future titles being wrapped up and Insomniac wanting the origins for both Ratchet and Clank to be resolved by the end of this adventure.
New mechanics were introduced such as the hoverboots to push for faster navigation across larger maps, time-based puzzles for Clank and open space exploration to give players galaxies to explore. It was also the first time in the series were we got a new composer making music; Boris Salchow takes the helm of A Crack in Times score.
People were impressed with the title when it was demoed and showed off, with it having a successful launch in 2009. It got some of the highest scores in the series history (next to the PS2 titles) and people to this day regard it as one of the series best adventures alongside Going Commando/Ratchet 2 and Up Your Arsenal/Ratchet 3. After this release, the series was put on halt for a little while, as Insomniac Games was busy working on other projects like Overstrike (later turned into FUZE) and Resistance 3so they couldn’t make another mainline Ratchet game.
Opening a new studio, they assigned them to produce a co-op platformer for the series called All 4 One. We reviewed it in the past, so check that out if you want to learn more about it. A year later, we saw the release of The Ratchet & Clank Collection having Ratchet 1-3 remastered in HD and a brand new adventure with Full Frontal Assault (or Q-Force in Europe).
Ratchet wasn’t ending, but the mainline games took a break for a while, though Insomniac knew fans wanted a more traditional Ratchet experience, so they produced Into the Nexus. This short but sweet adventure felt in many ways like a proper ending to the series. 2016 saw the franchise get rebooted with Ratchet & Clank for the PS4 and with the high critical reception that game received, I’m positive we will see another adventure for the lombax and robot in the future.

The Story

The plot continues where Quest for Booty left off, with Ratchet and Talwyn finding out where Clank is and learns that Dr. Nefarious from Ratchet 3 is with him. So, Ratchet rushes to the Polaris Galaxy with Captian Quark joining the ride while Clank wakes up inside this place called the Great Clock, where Dr. Nefarious is causing havok looking for the robot. He stuns Clank and leaves, letting him wake up later and him meeting Sigmund (voice by Nathan Drake himself; Nolan North!).

Ratchet & Quark crash land on a jungle planet where time is all out of wack and after various events happen, Ratchet sets off to explore space to find another Lombax, named General Azmith.

The story is less humorous compared to past titles but that is fine, as this a grounded story where Clank and Ratchet learn about themselves. Ratchet learning where the other Lombax’s are and Clank discovering he wasn’t just an mistake in a robot factory are just some of the plot lines explored in this game.
I also love Nefarious coming back with Laurence, Quark stealing the show whenever he is on screen and Azmeth being a strong character; he has motivations for his actions and its nice seeing Ratchet have a father-figure for a significant portion of the game. It also helps that he is one of the best boss fights in the series and his conclusion at the end of the story felt rewarding.
At the final third of the game, it starts out feeling like a bittersweet ending for the duo of Ratchet & Clank. Both have clear paths they need to take and you start feeling like ‘No….come on, just go on another adventure! Hey, come back Clank!’ but Ratchet lets Clank go and both understand there place. The ending of the game is really heartwarming and shows the powerful bond these two characters have built up over the many games in the series.
While I prefer other games over A Crack in Time for the story due to higher amounts of humor, the core story here felt strong and justified.

The Gameplay & Design

Will say this right now, the jump from Tools of Destruction/Quest for Booty to A Crack in Time is HUGE. Everything got improved in a number of smart ways. In some cases, it feels like the jump between Ratchet 2 and Ratchet 3; both strong games but the later does just enough small things to become an even stronger experience.

Lets go over one big thing first; the game is called Ratchet & Clank, but they don’t meet up until very late in the game. But both still get a lot of screen time with Clank having lengthy puzzle sections and Ratchet taking up a good 60% of gameplay time.
Ratchet’s control feels very tight and responsive compared to Tools, with things feeling far more ‘instant’. Not to mention some smart choices (wrench throw being faster, gadgets mapped to the D-Pad) makes the minor things feel better then before.
Ratchet’s combat is better then ever, with a great line up of weapons to play with and every tool being great to use. The ‘Devices’ are gone and the popular ones like Mr. Zurkon and the Groveatron become full-on weapons now. We also get special Constructo Guns (Blaster, Bomb, Shotgun) that can be upgrade with mods you find across the level; you are pushed into platforming to get more tools to mess around with and that is a smart design choice.

Other fun weapons include the Sonic Eruptor which is like a Shotgun but it being a living creature using a mating call for a powerful shockwave attack and a black-hole gun that summons Cathulu tentacles to pull your foes into a void-less sky. We also get the Spiral of Death, the first fan-made weapon to ever grace the series; its cool that this appears in the Ratchet Movie as well.

So, the weapons are fun and core gameplay is better then ever. What else is there to cover for Ratchet? The level designs are far more closed in, with exploration pushed but not enough. Tools of Destruction had large levels to explore with Crack in Time having smaller locations for main levels. This is fixed with the moons you can explore though.
We also get to tap our inner Sonic the Hedgehog with Ratchet’s hoverboots. They allow him to hover in the air (replacing Clank) and being able to go very fast across large landscapes. Very useful to get from point A too point B quickly. These new tools shine in various moments, like it’s introduction level where Ratchet spins, bounces and flies across large gaps of level. Other parts of the game use these tools to great effect and they are honestly one of the best additions to Ratchet’s moveset since Clank was able to hover/swim faster in the original Ratchet & Clank.

Ratchet can also explore space with his ship and once you are in space, no load times for bouncing between the moons. This means that you could visit each moon and get everything without running into a loading screen! But the moons offer little challenges like races with your hoverboots, small platforming levels and combat waves to get through.

You are rewarded with Gold Bolts (buy costumes), Mods (used for Constructo Weapons) and Zoni (little creatures that can upgrade your ship). These are great rewards and with the iconic arena returning from past titles, you have a lot to do with Ratchet. His ship also has a few combat sections but they are very minor; very simple gameplay wise and not really that engaging.
Clank is interesting though, as his gameplay is completely different from any gameplay style in the series. You have Clank being able to push his time abilities from Tools of Destruction even further by making copies of himself and ‘recording’ the actions they preform. For example, you can have copy A step on switch, copy B defending copy A from foes, and copy C running toward the exit. That is just one of the many puzzles you will solve.

Clank also has a staff that can be used for fighting, time bombs that freeze everything for a short while and a great triple jump. He is far more useful then any other incarnation of Clank and his levels are a great way to break up the action.
While I didn’t enjoy these stages as much compared to Ratchet’s levels, they are strong and show that Clank can offer strong gameplay without Ratchet present. I would love to see an entire game made up of Clank’s gameplay here, as it holds a lot of potential with new ways of using time powers and other mechanics.
Ratchet & Clank: A Crack in Time is one of the series strongest releases in terms of gameplay and design. It does a lot of things right and it feels so rewarding to play.

The Presentation

This game looks great thanks vividly vibrant colors, detailed locations and some impressive animation. Ratchet has far better animations compared to his ones in Tools of Destruction which lead to things feeling more like a cartoon than ever before. Cut-scenes are also very impressive too and feel like literal movie scenes that you could see in a Pixar film.

The game also has a really nice touch when it comes to you purchasing weapons. Movies that have an animated Ratchet react to different weapons being used when he gets them. They are funny, well animated and add the trademark Insomniac humor into the game.
Musically, its just okay. You have more movie-based tracks playing through levels. I did like a number of the tracks though and they do fit nicely when you are playing the game.

This is a great action platformer that could of been a nice conclusion to the Ratchet series. A lot of lose ends got wrapped up, the ending is heartwarming and I loved the character growth everyone got here. Not to mention we got strongest gameplay for the series since the PS2 Era Ratchet titles. This is a fantastic game and while not my favorite game in the series, very close to PS2 games for me.

And we come to a close on 3WIREL’s adventures across time and space! Ratchet & Clank is a series I greatly enjoy and continue to come back to. They are games that not only do a lot right but also offer some of the most polished experiences you can find on PlayStation Platforms. Strong level designs, amazing library of weapons to use, and smartly written stories that engage the player; these are examples of making a great kid-friendly series that appeals to adults.
Ratchet & Clank continues today, as mentioned in the History section of this article. So, we will be blasting across the stars in the future with the iconic duo on even more adventures. Thank you all for reading this series of posts and we at 3WIREL hope you have a wonderful day.

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