Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction is a shining example of the power and awesome potential of the Sony PlayStation 3.

It is a testament to what can be accomplished by pairing extremely talented programmers with a highly skilled cinematic team, and the synergy that results. Ratchet & Clank Future - Tools of Destruction shines as an example of the burgeoning medium for melding cinema with gaming interaction, and points toward the future of entertainment.

First and foremost, Ratchet & Clank Future - Tools of Destruction is a brilliant video game. This was my first console experience with R&C (I loved Size Matters, available for the PSP), and I'm hooked.

As you start out in Festoon City, don't be surprised if you're quickly overwhelmed at the scope of the first level. The city landscape is beautiful, and highly active.

Vehicles race across the screen in the distance as you fight your way through Festoon, battling robots (piloted by small fish aliens) along the way. The attention to detail is stunning, featuring a spectacular array of colors, and a highly interactive environment. If it looks like you can do it, you probably can.

Anyone with gaming experience has no doubt come across games with levels where you thought it could have worked better. Maybe you thought you could climb on a ledge, or jump across a chasm. In this game, if it looks feasible, give it a shot. You can climb and jump to your heart's content.

The game often rewards you for this - and handsomely. The game's two forms of currency are bolts (used to buy new weapons and gadgets) and raritanium (used to upgrade weapons). These are found sufficient abundance throughout the game. Worth noting: after beating the game, a player is given the option to play through again with a more difficult setting. In this mode, as you rack up kills without taking damage, you're awarded a multiplier for bolts and raritanium collected.

If you find yourself short on bolts or raritanium, you can visit the gladiator arena. The arena offers several challenges, ranging from boss battles to being restricted to a single weapon. You can play through the challenges as frequently as you wish, at any point, and more challenges become available as you progress through the game.

What a great thing - the developers did everything imaginable to make sure you enjoy playing the game. Sure, some hardcore gamers might be turned off, but the rest of the world can enjoy going back to the gladiator arena at our leisure, or if we just want to collect some extra bolts or raritanium.

In addition, you can revisit planets you've already conquered. Other nice touches by the developers include letting you use rocket boots to race around the world instead of making you walk or run across long open spaces, or using Clank's wings to reach the top of a building or other structures just to explore.

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Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction is a shining example of the power and awesome potential of the Sony PlayStation 3.

Even if your character dies, you retain everything you did/found before expiring. This includes unlocking doors and challenges you might not feel like doing again. Eventually, you'll have to start manually decrypting doors (using a tool from a smuggler conspicuously found throughout the game). The puzzles get gradually more difficult as you play through, but if you can tie your shoes you shouldn't have too difficult a time.

The main antagonist in Ratchet & Clank Future - Tools of Destruction is Emperor Tachyon. He and his forces harass you throughout the game, prompting Ratchet to question why he's being singled out by Tachyon and his minions. Fighting them is fun, but for me, the real kick was the fleet of space pirates, made up of some memorable characters.

These cut-scenes are especially entertaining, and definitely deserve to be watched in their entirety. The voice acting throughout the game is superb. The soundtrack overall is fantastic, but the pirate tracks really shine.

Dispatching enemies with the different weapons is the mainstay of this series, and here it's no different. You can throw tornadoes, or unleash a beehive of nano-bots. Or use your trusty lightning whip. There are literally dozens of weapons to choose from, each being truly unique. How often do you play a game where one rifle really differs from the next?

One might shoot different ammo at a different rate, weigh a little more, reload a little slower - but when's the last time you used one to entrap your enemy in a magnetic field that splits apart and takes apart everything else on screen? That's fun to do, by the way.

Oh, and if you get bored, throw a disco ball at your enemy. You'll notice that of the dozens and dozens of different villains you'll encounter throughout the game, each has different dance moves. And you can be rewarded for using this creatively. Clank gets into it, too, a nice detail the designers characteristically added in.

The story is top notch, and highly entertaining. While being completely appropriate for children of all ages, it still manages to entertain adults - think Shrek-like humour.

You're more or less introduced to this through Captain Quark, an acquaintance of R&C's. Even given the huge scope of the levels/planets, I was able to navigate them without any trouble. You'll encounter a variety of assisting characters throughout the game, each one adding another element to the story and gameplay. Surprisingly enough, I found all the characters to be genuinely enjoyable.

Clank also has an entertaining side story, and you'll get to play as him at various points in the game (note: you can slow down time by holding the R2 button; knowing this will save you some aggravation, especially in the beginning).

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Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction is a shining example of the power and awesome potential of the Sony PlayStation 3.

So what doesn't work? The SIXAXIS controls felt a bit forced, and weren't terribly fun to use. But you can easily turn these off, so it's really more of a positive (more options are a good thing, right?). Piloting Ophelia, your spaceship, against the pirate fleet isn't terribly intuitive (especially with motion control turned off), but isn't terribly difficult either.

The biggest thing I ran up against came after playing through the game a few times - once you've upgraded your weapons all the way, collecting additional bolts and raritanium becomes essentially worthless.

Also, the game gets a bit too easy at this point, and you'll have to work not to fly through it. Then again, if you're playing through the game for the third time, you've probably gotten your money's worth.

All in all, there's not much to complain about. Serious gamers might not enjoy the story as much, or the relatively easy difficulty. My biggest complaint was the game didn't have the Mootator from Size Matters (a handgun that turned enemies into cows - which squirt milk when you dispatch them), which eventually became the truly awesome Armoogeddon. You can use a bomb to turn enemies into penguins though, so this is somewhat mitigated. Still, I would have liked a Mootator.

Ratchet and Clank Future Tools of Destruction: Specs

  • PlayStation 3
  • PlayStation 3

OUR VERDICT

This is a work of art, truly a labour of love, apparent in every aspect of the game. If you own a PS3 and haven't checked it out yet, go and pick up a copy. I have to go now, they just released the demo of Secret Agent Clank for the PSP.

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