My first entry into the Ratchet & Clank series is Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction for PlayStation 3. Since then I’ve been hooked on the sci-fi action RPG platformer. My next game in the series was Secret Agent Clank for PlayStation Portable. I finished that game in just a few hours. It was that good even though Ratchet wasn’t with Clank for the double trouble.
Next up on the PSP train was Ratchet and Clank: Size Matters. I felt the game captured the essence of the series which is why I played most of it. I think I beat the game but there’s a level that I am not sure what to do on and for some reason, I just never looked up the FAQs for it. My last R&C game is Into The Nexus. You will see why I love the series so much and would continue playing older and newer games in the franchise.
People With A Fear of Heights, Beware!
You begin your journey into the abyss by escorting Vendra Prog, an evil witch, to jail, but she is soon awoken and out of cryosleep. She’s cranky and wants to talk as much smack, however, she has the power to back it up, literally! She knocks out the gravity fields in Ratchet’s ship forcing you into survival mode and using your gravity boots to maneuver in and out of the ship. She is eventually rescued by her THUGS-4-LESS hired minions and her little brother, Neftin Prog, but in the process, they attack your Nebulox Seven Prison Ship , while flying deep through space.
Through this series of events, you learn how to use basic weapons, tools and a bit of strategy to get out of certain situations. You’re literally thrown through space when the Thugs-4-less attacked the ship. The cinematography and level design made me feel like I was an astronaut in the movie Gravity, trying to hold on to something while moving around to avoid being shot at and asteroids coming straight into my path. Once you get through that ordeal, you’ll have a sense of what the game is all about – you need to recapture Vendra to bring her to justice and also seek some revenge for the lost of your crew and ship. You’ll get plenty of new gadgets, armor, weapons and items to accomplish this mission.
R&C Design: The Same Platforming We Love
The environments and level design are spectacular. With every game, the details are more fleshed out. I also love the signature platforming – spacious, huge depth, and excellent camera movements. Although you only travel to about 5 planets, each planet leaves you in awe with the cinematography. You feel like you are really on that planet helping Ratchet and Clank. There are lots of moments where different areas of the planets have limiting paths where you’re given a short amount of time to cover them. I felt almost claustrophobic at times.
As usual, you play as Ratchet using his gadgets and weapons for a variety of obstacles and enemies. You travel back and forth in your ship between a total of 5 worlds, which is a smaller number compared with other console R&C games in the series. You’re usually on a mission but in the case of Into the Nexus, it’s a mixture of revenge and self-discovery since Into the Nexus is a prequel to the Future saga in which Ratchet sets out on a path to search for the fate of his people, the Lombaxes.
In addition to using gadgets, Ratchet has special moves. You can double jump and do a smackdown with your wrench. You can do a run and slide or jump and glide with a hover pack. Defeating enemies and destroying anything that looks breakable will earn you some bolts and Raritanium. They are very generous with the bolt deposits due to the new weapons upgrade system where you can upgrade your weapon’s ability to drop more bolts and Raritanium after defeating enemies.
You still can’t control Clank in normal gameplay, but can control him in the mini-puzzles. I wonder if we will get a chance to switch Ratchet and Clank out depending on the situation in normal gameplay. That’s definitely a feature that should be implemented in a Playstation 4 game.
As mentioned in the Gadget section, Ratchet can use his wrench as a claw to hold onto items. When you get further into the game, Ratchet is able to unlock more gadgets or receive gadgets from important people.
Netherverse Mini-Puzzles (Clank to the Rescue)
Nothing is like an R&C game without Clank doing something to help out. Luckily and so out-of-this-world, literally, Clank can enter Nether Rifts. He can manipulate gravity. This mini-game turns the gameplay into a side-scroller. It reminds me of the indie game “And Yet It Moves”. These challenges are only for Clank and to win them, he has to find a Nether, mess with him until it gets real mad, make it follow him back to our world only so it can explode and give us extra bolts and Raritanium. Talk about animal cruelty
It’s All About Family – Story and Concept
Into the Nexus storyline is pretty predictable but I don’t expect it to be an RPG-type soap opera. It satisfies but you still feel hungry to play more, which means there’s enough material for a sequel.
Vendra Prog and her brother used the Dimensionator on planet Silox to bring forth a race of creatures from another dimension called The Nethers because she believed they were her family. The leader of the Nethers betrayed her and took her into their world to be used as a gateway. The underlying conflict and emotions are that both Ratchet and Vendra lost their people and have a sense of abandonment and loss of culture and family. They long to belong with their own kind. So now they have to help each other. “It doesn’t matter where you’re from, it’s where you are and how you got there.”
Music and Visuals – A Fantastic Symphony
Just like in other R&C games, the music fits the speed and vastness of your actions and the environment. It flowed like set pieces, very memorable even if you don’t play the game multiple times.
New Features and Improvements
Raritanium Weapon Upgrade System
A new model of the weapon upgrade system, previously used in Tools of Destruction, which allows a player to upgrade Ratchet’s weapons such as its ammo, fire range, speed, power and special abilities, is implemented into Into The Nexus. You upgrade these specs using the power source Raritanium, which is pink diamonds and can be collected by destroying enemies and finding loose diamonds around the planets. I find this system very needed and adds another level of fun to choosing your favorite weapons. The system is like an advanced upgrade. The original upgrade of weapons is still in use. Simply level up your weapons by using them in battles until they reach level 3. Weapons can’t be upgraded pass Level 3 however the new weapon upgrade system adds more specific options.
Along with the new weapon upgrade system, purchasing new weapons just got a lot easier and sufficient. When you go to buy a new weapon (you still need to use Bolts currency to buy items and ammo), you’re given an option to test it out in a practice area. The practice area changes for each weapon you want to try. It gives you a setup that is most efficient when using that particular weapon. I really like this new feature.
To add more replay value, Into the Nexus has its own “trophy” list for completing certain tasks. Each tasks needs to be completed several times before clearing that box. For example, one skill task was to use all of Ratchet’s moves. After completing this, you’ll receive a certain number of skill points. You gain a skill point for every task you complete. What do you get after completing all skill tasks? Probably a real trophy.
You’ll have a new set of gadgets to get around the most tight or high spots and dimensions! Some featured gadgets you’ll be using a lot are the Grav-Tether (allows you to float between two beams in a specific direction), GrummelNet Jetpack, Hoverboots and the Rift Cracker. The Jetpack is so useful for gauging landscape and covering high altitudes such as mountains and tall buildings. My favorite gadget is the Grav-tether because while you are floating between the beams, the game plays a heavenly sound and slows down time – useful for shooting enemies while floating in the beam.
The weaponry is one of the best parts of playing the Ratchet and Clank series. Into the Nexus had even better weapons to unleash on your enemies. These are my favorites:
- Terrorizer – Ghouls scare the daylights out of enemies
- Zurkon Family – Protectors of Ratchet and Clank: Zurkon, Son and Mrs. Zurkon. They are a trip!
- Warmonger – It’s a badass Rocket Launcher
Into the Nexus is a fantastic, visually stunning adventure that ended too soon, however, this is an epilogue to the Future saga that begins with Tools of Destruction with its sequel Quest for Booty and then ends with A Crack in Time. Ratchet is faced with such dilemmas that threatens the entire universe as well as dealing with personal conflict such as an identity crisis and loss of culture because of the disappearance of his people. The story tackles many personal conflicts that I think makes this game very unique in the series and further proves what a wonderful franchise Ratchet and Clank continues to be, securing a place for Playstation 4 game releases. Into the Nexus and Quest for Booty (free download accompanied) are available now in the Playstation Store for $29.99.
Watch the trailer: