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Critical Reception: Sony/Insomniac's Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction

This week's edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to Insomniac's Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction a PlayStation 3 franchise debut that's been praised as "the best game in the Ratchet & Clank series thus far" - va
This week's edition of the regular Critical Reception column examines online reaction to Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction a PS3 franchise debut that has been praised as "the best game in the Ratchet & Clank series thus far." The Insomniac-developed Ratchet & Clank series has earned high marks from the gaming press since its inception in 2002, with the franchise reaching a high point with the 2004 sequel Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal, which earned an average review score of 91 out of 100 from all critics surveyed at Metacritic.com. The series' PlayStation 3 debut, Tools of Destruction, seems to be meeting with similar success thus far, and currently averages a Metacritic rating of 89 out of 100. Todd Melick at GamePro awards Tools of Destruction a 5 out of 5 in Fun Factor, citing the title's excellent use of the new hardware's horsepower as being particularly impressive. "It's fitting that the first installment of the Ratchet & Clank series on the PS3 is called Future," he says, "because in many ways it sets the bar for all future PS3 games. Starting with the opening cinematic to the very last moment, the game is a prime example of what developers can and should do with the platform." Melick claims that Ratchet & Clank fans expecting a typically outlandish array of weapons will not be disappointed in Future. "The weapons are also as inventive and vicious as ever," he writes. "It's just one of the cool weapons found in the game--the Tornado Launcher is another personal favorite--and the humor inherent in them definitely is a strong point of the game." Melick also enjoyed the Sixaxis-controlled portions of Future, despite its occasional quirks. "Other than the weapons players will use the Sixaxis to control Ratchet at certain points during the game," he explains. "It's implemented better than most other PS3 games but it's still a bit awkward to use." "The controls are also a little wonky when accessing the weapons via the quick select," Melick continues. "There were times in the flurry of battle where I wanted to select a weapon and I had to try several times to get the intended one to load." Overall, however, Melick feels that Tools of Destruction is a quality experience worthy of a hardware purchase. "Tools of Destruction is an amazing PS 3 game that fully leverages the power of the console." he concludes. "It sets the bar high for not only the series but for all PS3 games to come. It is, without a doubt, reason enough to buy the system." Games Radar's Mikel Reparaz claims that Tools of Destruction is exactly what the PlayStation 3 needs in its software library at this point in time, and scores the title at 9 out of 10. "It's no secret that the PS3's been hurting for good exclusives lately. Lair was a flaming wreck, and Warhawk and Heavenly Sword - while mostly excellent - were greeted with what seemed like a collective shrug from critics," he begins. "A lot of heavy expectations are riding on the shoulders of Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction, and although the game can't possibly meet them all, it certainly doesn't disappoint." "First off, here's what Ratchet & Clank Future isn't: it's not a revolutionary experience that'll make Xbox 360 owners claw out their own eyes in despair," he warns. "It's not a roaring justification of the high cost of owning a PS3. What it is, though, is a beautiful, relentlessly entertaining shooty-platformer, and easily the best game in the Ratchet & Clank series thus far." Reparaz notes that Future also marks a return to form for the series after the Clank-lacking Ratchet: Deadlocked, which received mixed reactions from fans. "Action-wise, the wrench-swinging, gun-toting, rail-grinding, chasm-hopping gameplay will be instantly familiar to fans of the series," he writes, "although there are a few surprises - like an amazing-looking, Resident Evil 4-style over-the-shoulder aiming mode, and a flawless lock-on system." While Reparaz acknowledges the fact that Future does not stray far from its roots, he finds that an enjoyable game remains under its familiar exterior. "For all its next-gen brilliance, however, Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction doesn't really tamper much with the formula that made its PS2 predecessors great, and that's at once a relief and a disappointment," he writes in conclusion. "Ratchet & Clank Future isn't a revolution, but it is a marvelously kickass game that'll keep you entertained for hours as you plumb the depths of its huge levels, find creative ways to blow up its monsters and try to ferret out all its dozens of cleverly hidden items." Jeremy Dunham at IGN is most impressed with the fact that Tools of Destruction explores a new direction for the series. "Interestingly, Insomniac's latest Lombax adventure is a little different from those that came before it --and not because it's the first one to make the jump from standard-def to HD," he writes in his review, scored at 9.4 out of 10. "Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction is different because it takes itself a little more seriously." "Longtime fans needn't worry, though," Dunham assures. "'Taking' itself more seriously' doesn't mean that the game has lost any of its humor or style. Clank doesn't womanize or gamble, nor does Ratchet have a drinking problem -- they've just grown up a pinch and it shows in the storytelling." Dunham shares much of the same praise as many other reviewers, noting high points in Future's attention to graphical detail and variety in weaponry. "What's not to like?" he asks. "Well, if you're the type of player that prefers Devil May Cry 3 and Ninja Gaiden Sigma to Heavenly Sword and other 'mass appeal' games, then you may be disappointed in Future's difficulty." Dunham explains: "It's not that hard at all (save for a boss fight or two) and thanks to your amped up weapons and armor, you'll rarely die unless you misjudge a jump. There's also an occasional bug or two that slipped through the cracks." Otherwise, Dunham seems satisfied with the end result. "Whether you're new to R&C or someone who has played them all, Ratchet and Clank Future deserves to be in your library no matter what," he summarizes. "Not only has it supplanted Going Commando as the best title in the franchise, it's also the best game of any series on the PlayStation 3 thus far -- and that's saying a lot when you're up against Oblivion, Ninja Gaiden, Warhawk and Insomniac's very own previous effort, Resistance: Fall of Man." Though the last console entry in the series may have met with a mixed reception, Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction, by many accounts, appears to offer much of the same familiar action seen in the acclaimed Up Your Arsenal. Some critics even feel that the title alone warrants a purchase of a PlayStation 3 -- a recommendation that indicates that a purchase should be a safe bet for current PS3 owners.

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