The Ratchet and Clank series debuted five years ago, and since that time their have been four titles and a few mobile spinoffs. Even with all of these titles we're still not burnt out on Ratchet and Clank and quite obviously neither were Insomniac who have updated Ratchet and Clank for the PlayStation 3. No shortcuts have been taken in bringing the game to the PlayStation 3 and Ratchet and Clank: Tools of Destruction is one of the best titles yet. For a series that has never waned that's quite a feat.
Insomniac has tried to add a story to Tools of Destruction, with moderate success. Ratchet is the last Lombax in the world, and unfortunately Emperor Percival Tachoyon wants the Lombax's to be extinct and so he tries to eliminate Ratchet once and for all. Ratchet soon learns there are secrets behind the Lombax race and Clank has issues of his own as he is seeing zonis (basically little alien things). The story is told through some impressive cut scenes and does help progress the game, but most people are likely to just tune out.
Much like previous Ratchet and Clank titles, Tools of Destruction is best described as an action platformer played from the third person perspective. Instead of bopping on enemies heads like in traditional platforming games, Ratchet brandishes a gun, which we think is a much better way to dispose of your enemies. Standard conventions in platforming games such as climbing, swinging and jumping are all featured, but impressively there are very few fetch quests, which keeps the game flowing well. Tools of Destruction goes a long way towards fixing some of the mistakes of Ratchet Gladiator - one of our prime complaints with that game were the arena battles, thankfully for the most part Tools of Destruction removes these forced action sequences. The controls in the game are relatively simple to pick up and remain roughly the same from previous Ratchet games. Aiming is done with the L1 button or the game will sometimes autoaim for you and firing is as simple as pressing R1. Once again weapons can be changed on the fly using the triangle button and the analog stick.
You'll start off with a basic combuster (a gun which shoots fire), but it doesn't take long before you'll tire of the weapon or it won't be powerful enough, but luckily as you progress through the game you'll be able to purchase weapons. Impressively all of these weapons can also be upgraded, you can customise all manner of things including the power of the weapon and how many bolts you get when defeating enemies with it. Imagination was certainly running rife when Insomniac were thinking of potential weapons to include, and our favourite weapon by far was the groovitron, which is a disco ball that when fired will disable enemies while they groove to the music.
While most of Tools of Destruction is played in control of Ratchet there are a few instances where players will take control of Clank. Clank's move set is rather limited, but he can punch, levitate and slow down time. Clank also has lower health, so he is only really useful when there are levels that Ratchet cannot enter.
What makes Tools of Destruction so enjoyable is that the gameplay is always broken up so you're not doing the same thing all of the time. A few points during the game you'll be required to use the Sixaxis to direct Ratchet to the ground safely without hitting any traffic. When traveling to different planets you'll take control of the ship while trying to destroy enemies in space, ala Colony Wars. These little inclusions work well and don't feel tacked on, instead adding just a little more to the gameplay.
Sixaxis support doesn't end there; using one of the weapons (the tornado launcher) you use the Sixaxis controls where the tornado goes, making it a great weapon for disposing of enemies that you can see ahead of you. The Sixaxis is also used for Clank's Robo-Wings and for rolling a metal ball around equipment. Overall you won't be using the motion controls all that much, but when you do it doesn't feel too much like a gimmick. While not relevant for PAL Gamers just yet, Tools of Destruction also comes with support for the Dual Shock 3 so when the controller is released you'll feel rumble as you're being attacked by those enemies.
It's clear Insomniac weren't trying to revamp the gameplay or reboot the Ratchet franchise, but in many ways they don't have to. The Ratchet and Clank games have remained fun since the series debuted and the franchise is not in any danger of getting stale. This means that anyone who played the earlier Ratchet games is bound to enjoy this one. The only real frustration we had with Tools of Destruction is that sometimes the checkpoints can be a bit few and far between. We also encountered a glitch with the game where we could push Ratchet through a wall. Even though the game is beautiful there are occasions where the frame rate also drops a little too much, but this only happens when the action really heats up. Overall though, Tools of Destruction is a very polished game.
Graphically it's no lie to proclaim Tools of Destruction as one of the best looking games on the PlayStation 3 yet. Aside from the sometimes stuttering frame-rate the game is a visual treat, Ratchet and Clank look brilliant, the planets you travel to all have their own unique look and the game is very colourful and full of detail. Even while you are roaming around the planets there are plenty of things going on in the background, which makes the player feel like they are part of a living city. The soundtrack suits the game well, but isn't too memorable and the voice work for the most part is pretty solid. However, if you stay in the one area for too long sometimes the audio does loop which becomes annoying quite fast.
The single player campaign lasts for a delightful ten to twelve hours, and is entertaining the whole time, but there is also plenty to keep players coming back. You may want to go through the game finding more bolts, upgrading more weapons or finding some of the secrets. One of the major omissions from Tools of Destruction is the removal of the multiplayer aspect of the game. Tools of Destruction unfortunately features no multiplayer at all, which is quite disappointing for those who liked jumping online and getting some target practice in.
Ratchet and Clank have made their debut on the Playstation 3 in style. Tools of Destruction is not only one of the best looking PlayStation 3 games, it's incredibly enjoyable, with some excellent weapons and some brilliant action set pieces. The Sixaxis control doesn't feel tacked-on, and our only real complaints with the game are very minor. Anyone who is a fan of action games should have absolutely no hesitation in picking up Ratchet and Clank: Tools of Destruction.