Ratchet and Clank: Into the Nexus Review
It's been a few years since our favorite Lombax and his trusty robot sidekick had a proper adventure together, but the dynamic duo made their sixth appearance on the PlayStation 3 this week with Ratchet and Clank: Into the Nexus. Though not every title featuring Insomniac's space-faring heroes has been memorable, the core Future entries have always stood out as pinnacle's of the developer's prowess. As an epilogue to the Future series, Into the Nexus serves as a fun and exciting way to close out Ratchet's and Clank's adventures on the PS3.
Like Ratchet and Clank: Quest for Booty, Into the Nexus is a shorter, albeit enjoyable, Ratchet and Clank experience. Picking up some time after the conclusion of A Crack in Time, Into the Nexus begins with Ratchet and Clank escorting an extremely dangerous prisoner named Vendra to the authorities. Unfortunately, her brother Neftin has other ideas, and hijacks the transport before it can reach its destination. It's then up to Ratchet and Clank to travel the solar system trying to stop Vendra before she can bring about the destruction of the universe. It's all very typical at the onset, but with Insomniac's wonderful writing, the story is given enough heart and humor to make it more than just standard sci-fi fare.
The real draw of any Ratchet and Clank title lies in the incredibly creative weapons in your arsenal, and Into the Nexus does not disappoint. You've got your standard Omni-wrench and blaster, but almost every other armament in Into the Nexus is new. From the Nightmare Box, which drops a creeptastic Jack-in-the-box decoy in front of enemies, to the Winterizer, which blasts enemies into snowmen, there's no shortage of ways to approach each fight differently. Each weapon also has its fair share of upgrades, which are unlocked by using a weapon often. As you progress, the fights will get more intense and furious, so using a combination of everything you have in your arsenal can result in some hectic encounters. Still, the action is fluid, and you never really feel out of control. Some fights will be a bit frustrating until you get your strategy nailed down right, but it's satisfying to finally defeat that boss that's been giving you trouble when you nail your attack pattern.
While the combat is a big part of what makes Ratchet and Clank click, the platforming plays a large role, too. Though there aren't very many worlds to explore in this smaller entry, what's there makes for some solid level design. The tour through the intergalactic museum in particular is a treat, though the more wild planets do offer some nice variation. In addition to the standard jumping and puzzle solving, Into the Nexus adds a jetpack to the mix in certain areas. Flying through the air adds a new dynamic to combat and platforming, breaking up the monotony of the more standard third-person adventuring. The high-speed escape from the sewers stands out as a highlight, even if controlling the jetpack isn't as tight as we'd hoped.
Clank also has some solo sequences that take place in another dimension. These moments are few and far between, but do offer some challenging gravity-based puzzles to solve. We wish there were a few more just so there would be a bit more variety, but also because the Clank sections were over so quickly despite being fun. You can also visit the arena planet to build up your combat abilities and earn some extra bolts between story missions. Like previous entries, it's almost entirely optional (though you do have to go at least once to earn the jetpack), but can help you in the long run by offering you much needed experience to level up your weapons for the endgame sequences.
It's a shame our time with Ratchet and Clank was over so soon, but Into the Nexus served as a perfect reminder of why we enjoy this franchise and these characters so much. The action is tight, the weapons are creative and the story serves as a terrific send-off for the series... at least until it returns on the PlayStation 4. Hopefully Insomniac won't keep us waiting too long!
This review is based on a retail copy of Ratchet and Clank: Into the Nexus for the PlayStation 3.