Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Ratchet and Clank Future: Quest for Booty

I was a bit disappointed to see several reviewers of Booty complain that it was too short, and not a real Ratchet game. To me, this is like complaining that a nice hamburger wasn't made out of chicken. Quest for Booty wasn't made to be the next big installment in the series that would take the evolution a step further; it was designed, and priced, to be a quick and enjoyable few hours of fun to whet the appetites of old fans and introduce new ones before the next big game. And it does a very good job of this.

Unlike all the recent games, the experience is much more narrow and guided. They use the classic trope of letting you try most of your weapons for a bit in the beginning, before taking them away and slowly making you earn them back. You don't get to buy the ones you want, you just get a select few in bunches through the story, and they start partially upgraded so there's not as much progression going through. There are a few mods scattered around, but those are the extend of the hidden secrets, and there's not as much enjoyment to be had from customizing your arsenal and exploring the world. The game is a bit disappointing in this aspect, but the design is strong enough to overcome the limitations they placed on the usually deeper gameplay.

Quest for Booty is paced more like a movie than maybe any game I've played before, as you're ushered around from interesting set piece to set piece, with bits of humor and plot reveals along the way. There are cut scenes with exposition throughout that are spiced up by entertaining hand-drawn images and silly narration, that really turn the charm meter up to 11. The Ratchet and Clank series isn't the best written thing ever, but it's always fun to be in the world they create because it has some imagination and doesn't mind not being dark and gritty. The game is more focused on platforming over action than it has been in a while, and it fits the mood. The story doesn't advance too much, but there's a new cliffhanger to keep fans wondering what's going on. The graphics are just as great as the disc-based PS3 game, and no punches were pulled making the production as solid as a full release. It's not as satisfying as a full length game, but it's plenty for now.

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