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Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction - Almost Time To Dust Off Your PS3
Insomniac is bringing the boys back for a PS3 exclusive that the system so desperately needs. They aren't taking to many chances this time around and taking a "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" attitude, but they are using the power of the PS3 to create some truely epic looking scenes. The story this time is going to revolve around Ratchet's past and the history of his species, the Lombax, which is something none of the previous games have ever touched on. Insomniac has stated they are also going back to the platforming feel of the first game. I'm a horrible writer so I'm going to leave it up to the experts ...
The folks at Insomniac said that the nature of this title's gameplay will emphasize variety. You'll see a plethora of mini-games and alternative modes of play, like space combat, that break up the usual 3D platforming and shooting sections. Their goal, furthermore, is to probe deeper into the emotional side of things, not only in regards to Ratchet's past, but also in his relationship with Clank. Apparently, strife will erupt between our two heroes, due to Clank's sudden visions of ethereal, semi-robotic creatures known as the Zoni, visible only to him. However, it's unclear as to whether or not this drama between Ratchet and Clank will affect the overall gameplay experience.
On the more technical side of things, Insomniac is targeting a solid frame rate of 60 fps for this title, though the builds we saw were running between 40 and 60 fps at the time. Regardless, such a high frame rate makes this game quite thrilling to watch, since there is rich graphical detail not only in the character designs, but more noticeably, within the environments. Insomniac seems to be striving for very colorful and vibrant planets, with an equally colorful cast of characters. Each character was planned from the ground up to sport a captivating and enticing silhouette, which should lead to inherently gripping character designs. The developers at Insomniac commented that their experience with Resistance: Fall of Man has given them incredible insight into developing "next-generation" titles, and thus far, it shows.
However, as many gamers know, Insomniac prides itself on fun and interesting weapons, and we saw quite a few at the press event. Some of the more typical weapons included the Predator Launcher - a rocket launcher with multi-lock capabilities, the Negotiator - a single-shot, highly explosive rocket launcher type weapon, and the Combustor - a futuristic take on an automatic rifle. On the more creative side of things, we also saw the Plasma Beasts, which started as small, docile globs of goo, and transformed into raving slime creatures when an enemy approached, as well as the Buzz Blades, long-range bladed discs that whirl about in a veritable frenzy. But even if those don't satisfy your hunger for insanity: fear not. We were also privileged to see a new weapon called the Death Springs, a group of slinky minions that seek out enemies, of their own slinky-will, and destroy them in a flurry of slow-moving metal. Fantastic.
The weapons will feature a seemingly complex upgrade system, somewhat similar to the License Board in Final Fantasy XII. Using collected metals, you can "unlock" a particular upgrade, which enables you to unlock all the spaces around it on a pre-arranged grid. It is in this way that the power of a weapon spreads out across the grid until you eventually enable brutal, special abilities for each weapon. But don't expect the weapons to be dramatically over-powered; devices like the Goovatron and the Death Springs are not categorized alongside your other arms. They belong to a new item set called Combat Items: rare, over-powered equipment that can only be used on occasion, and they come in short supply.
The next demo we sat down with took place in/on the IRIS Supercomputer. While this name might invoke visions of sprawling networks and neon-lit passages, the majority of the world was actually covered with snow. Although standard combat was a major part of this level, our attention was drawn more to the atypical segments, which included several scenes showcasing Ratchet dressed as a robo-pirate (he even had a peg-leg!). By using this disguise effectively, Ratchet could sneak past his foes and infiltrate their base more quietly than an all-out frontal assault, though such a strategy was still possible. The antics didn't stop with the costume, however, since Ratchet could also participate in a jig-dancing mini-game in order to open up a sealed hatchway. As you can clearly see, the game will be using liberal amounts of humor. We noticed that a lot of work had gone into the "little details" as well, since Insomniac's humor extends into far less obvious mediums than slapstick. If you stand near some of the pirates while in disguise, you can listen in on their conversations as they candidly discuss their various health and dental plans, as well as their 401k options. It's moments such as these that made us smile the most during the demos.