Ratchet and Clank: Tools of Destruction
Can Insomniac hit the mark twice in 12 months?
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Pacing is a noose many developers unwittingly hang around the necks of their games. No matter how well the game is designed, poor pacing can make the experience tedious and, ultimately, only serves to make players add to their pile of unfinished games. Ratchet and Clank: Tools of Destruction will be spared that fate. Between the weapons, the characters, the story and the puzzles, Tools is a game that's all about keeping it fresh.
It's worth starting with the weapons because, like Insomniac's PS3 launch game, Resistance: Fall Of Man, it's clear that this is where so much of the team's early planning time has been spent. There's an interesting and sometimes hilarious arsenal of weapons and gadgets that you can switch between on the fly and an upgrade system that will have you searching out every crate and enemy you can find to earn as many bolts, the in-game currency, as you can.
Even though there are more powerful weapons in the game, I became quite attached to my maxed out Magma Combuster, which I fully tricked out for rapid fire and extra damage. There's something to be said for a standard weapon that performs well. Of course, standard is far from all Insomniac has on offer, and the range goes from the Buzz Blades, which sends disc-blades flying through the air, to the infamous Groovitron, a disco-ball-esque device that forces enemies to show off their best dance moves.
While the weapons are great, what makes them central to the experience is the regularity with which they're doled out. You won't go more than an hour or so without getting your hands on something new to play with, and then it's up to you to turn it into the weapon that best suits your tastes. This same appreciation for timeliness can be extended to the stages - presented as planets and other intersteller regions.
There are more than a dozen stages, each quite different from the last. There's a Trantor-like Metropolis on Planet Kerwan, where you start the game, a city that is teeming with life. Being there, observing everything around me, reminded me of standing on a street corner in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas as you watch the world around just carry on living. Over the course of the rest of the game you'll travel to exotic worlds, places where pirates rule and space-hermits guard their secrets. There's a good range of enemies and many of them are best dealt with using specifics weapons.