Ratchet jumps back into the fray with Insomniac’s 6th instalment on the Playstation 3. Nexus fits in right after a Crack in Time, following Ratchet as he attempts to imprison a notorious criminal; Vendra Prog in the Vartax detention centre. Things quickly go awry and Ratchet finds himself stranded in an abandoned sector on the edge of the galaxy.
Similar to previous instalments like Quest for Booty, into the Nexus is a bitsize Ratchet and Clank experience. Lasting you approximately six hours Nexus has you exploring only a handful of planets. The games cast is as charming and quirky as ever, Ratchet retains that sometimes cringe-worthy Dreamwork-esque smirk, but for the most part the games narrative is very solid. The games plot takes a slightly darker tone this time around, but that is not to say that Ratchet takes himself too seriously. The humerous banter between Ratchet and Clank remains and its the games cast that carry the experience. Both Vendra and her brother Nertin are despicable but relatable villains, both of which incredibly well written characters who’s backstories you’ll enjoy exploring as you delve deeper and deeper into Nexus.
Ratchet and Clank’s gameplay hasn’t changed either; no surprise here. Ratchet and Clank plays almost identically to it’s past 5 instalments. For the most part this is appreciated, Ratchet and Clank is a fun, fluid third person shooter with platforming elements. Ratchet’s arsenal is about as exotic as usual ranging from zany new weapons like the Winterizer, a weapon which turns everyone into snowmen, to the familiar like the Omniblaster. Played on normal the game doesn’t demand particularly strategic use of these weapons, but on harder difficulties and challenge mode you’ll find yourself selecting weapons strategically for each stage of a fight, whilst cautiously watching your ammo count.
As you use your weapons they each gain experience and ultimately level up, and you can even earn raritanium to upgrade them further; sometimes these illicit minor changes like a damage increase whereas others offer functional adaptations such as the Quantum Repulsor which when upgraded will knock enemies into the air suspend them for a brief moment, allowing you to dish out some extra damage. It’s instances like that where Ratchet’s arsenal really shines, however it’s a shame such viable combinations are few and far between, particually thanks to Ratchet having a smaller arsenal this time around. Nexus also introduces new gadgets, one of which comes in the form of a gravity manipulation device, enabling you to travel between gravity streams. This is used somewhat innovatively in light-platforming puzzles, but nothing here quite matches up with the Great Clock puzzles from A Crack in Time.
As you traverse the games five planets in Nexus you’ll find the game has a much more solemn tone to previous instalments. In dentical manner to games prior each planet has a map which is dotted with objectives, you’re free to explore and pursue these in whichever order you wish, although most are ultimately required for story progression. Many of the locations you visit are entirely deserted, with exception of the thugs-4-less goons that have been stationed there. Exploring each planets is a generally a pleasure but after a while you’re liable to begin to miss the bright lights and atmosphere of more upbeat Ratchet and Clank games, but that’s not to say you’ll become tired of Nexus before it’s through. You won’t, and you’re more than likely to come back for more which the game intimacies you to do in the form of Challenge mode, once you’ve completed the adventure for the first time.
Aesthetically the game doesn’t impress quite as much as its predecessors, particularly a Crack in Time, but never manages to be classifiable as ugly. Sometimes the texture resolutions are noticeably lower than the standard set by prior games, or the framerate drops a little more than I expect from the series, but overall the game holds up nicely and there’s certainly scenes which I had to to take a moment to admire. The games artstyle is a little different to a Crack in Time too, using the character models from Up Your Arsenal and All 4 One, rather than a Crack in Time, but it’s merely a change most fans are unlikely to pay much attention to, Ratchet remains incredibly well animated and it’s a joy to move him around his virtual environment.
Ratchet and Clank Nexus is a solid Ratchet and Clank game and one that will keep fans of the series happy. Whilst looking back on series entries prior reflects negatively on Nexus, it’s still an incredibly solid game in its own right. Surpassing the quality of similar instalments such as Quest for Booty. The games narrative and characters are all incredibly well crafted and will leave you wishing this was a 12, rather than 6 hour experience.
Bad Overall Nexus is a solid experience that fans and newcomers alike can enjoy. Nexus does more than enough to justify it’s reduced £20 entry fee and serves as an excellent send off to the series on Playstation 3.
Overall Nexus is a solid experience that fans and newcomers alike can enjoy. Nexus does more than enough to justify it’s reduced £20 entry fee and serves as an excellent send off to the series on Playstation 3.