Tools of Destruction continues the popular trend of vibrant humorous action-platforming established by the original game in 2002. The game follows in the established paw-prints of previous titles with the player controlling Ratchet, and occasionally, his ever-more C3PO esque companion Clank. However the series begins to suffer from a romantic fatigue, one that leaves this episode of the duo’s escapade somewhat disenchanted; a less animate, less explosive experience than previous escapades in the hapless couple’s tale.
First, foremost, fundamentally: Tools of Destruction sports the same cape and mask it donned in 2002. The varying worlds are still painted with a pallet of primary colours, the combat and platforming still mould like liquid jelly and a bowl, weapons are still outrageous, enemies woefully inept at surviving, the controls nigh on perfect, and Captain Quark is still the finest character. Deep down in its monochrome despising heart, this is the Ratchet and Clank familiarity that captured and sustained a vast fan base back when platformers were a thriving breed.
The narrative sees Emperor Tachyon, a vexed and socially troubled alien, striving to enslave the galaxy and enact vengeance upon our hero Ratchet for war crimes committed before his birth. Amidst the hazy plot space pirates (and a hugely diverse range of other enemies, including bugs, goldfish, and dinosaurs) show up and bow down to the guy with the wrench.
The narrative does little more than provide an excuse for a voyage around a fictional galaxy; asteroid fields, pirate ships, prehistoric jungles, vast metropolis’, and a fervent comet are a handful of the locations the game has to offer. And variety is lodged like a bullet in the Tools of Destruction formula. It is the games proudest achievement but as it transgresses, it also begins hacking away at the carefully applied veneer. Throughout the ten-hour narrative the player will discover, obtain, or be awarded an abundance of gadgets and tools to utilise, from jelly-firing guns to attachable wings. The predicament doesn’t stem from a deficit in quality, more so that most of the gadgets and weapons won’t be used through the short campaign. A trait that begins to drown in its own complexity when, towards the latter quarter of the game, there are three separate inventory screens and a host of items and weapons you’ve never touched. It is a shame too because some of the features are distinctive and add a necessary distraction from the core experience.
In contrast the weapons are vastly liberal in their usability. Boasting nearly two-dozen different devices of destruction Insomniac do a fantastic job of reincarnating the guns habituating most other games whilst inventing a multitude of highly unlikely but incredibly fun to use weapons. Besides a flurry of shotguns, flame-throwers, grenades, and rocket launchers sit wrist-mounted claws, a device which unleashes a hive of nano-insects, a tornado launcher (controlled via the sixaxis), a disco ball that spurs enemies into dance (whilst you continue mashing them into bolts), and an electric whip. The weapon collection spins a nice balance between those that are incredibly simple to use, and those that require a certain degree of skill. However the best aspect regarding the weaponry is the dual upgrading system. Simply using each weapon will earn it XP to rank up with, to a total of five levels. With each level the weapon becomes more powerful and, at the fifth, modifies itself resulting in even more carnage and havoc. Even better is the facility to upgrade the weapon yourself, parallel to the automated leveling system, allowing the player facility to craft it to their own liking; added power or faster shooting, for example.
Despite the diverse arsenal and variety in location, the game is impaired with a number of minor flaws that merge to create a final hour laced in frustration. Throughout the game the player will level up in relation to kills and by the end the health bar, which began life in single digits, will be well into the hundreds. However this seemingly advantageous scenario is rendered as useful as a blow-up hammer in a knife fight in lure of the fact that the enemies are also gifted this virtue. It takes about ten direct blows to send Ratchet to an early deathbed at the start, and about the same at the end. Similarly the checkpoint system buddies with the ranking system like a house. On fire.
Tools of Destruction achieves precisely that which it aimed; to continue the successful combination of colourful action platforming that has defined the franchises existence through the past seven years. An ever more ludicrous yet equally entertaining arsenal of weapons, fantastically diverse locations, and a wealth of enemies make this an experience worth the time of any Ratchet and Clank fan. However a lacking narrative and a reliance on the past prevent Tools of Destruction from improving upon the vibrant identity and character former titles in this great series have boasted.