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Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction (PlayStation 3) artwork

Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction (PlayStation 3) review

"All the right tools for the job. "

It never was my goal to play the Ratchet & Clank Future series out of order, but when I started it, Sony didn't have the first game on its Now service and that remained true until Now and Plus merged and the company decided to add a lot of new games to make it a more attractive service. And so, Tools of Destruction wound up being the last of that batch that I played even though it was chronologically the first.

Quite the shame it took so long to get to, really, as it crosses the finish line in a dead heat with A Crack in Time as not just the best game in that series, but also as arguably the top of the line in 3-D platformers I've played. The reasoning behind that opinion is simple: Diversity.

There are no shortage of planets to explore — each with its own look, objectives and challenges. Ratchet will also gradually obtain a huge amount of weaponry to wield, with each having the potential to be extremely useful at times. Occasionally, you'll find yourself doing something completely different. Portions of a few levels have you control the diminutive robot Clank, while three stages take the form of rail shooters. And none of the game's worlds are particularly lengthy, so if something isn't clicking for you, just be patient and endure. It won't be long until you're embarking on another, likely quite different, challenge.

The game starts out with a bang, with the city of Metropolis under assault by the forces of Emperor Tachyon — a member of the thought-to-be-extinct Cragmites. For Ratchet, this quickly turns out to be very personal. His Lombax species and the Cragmites had been in conflict until both groups essentially vanished. As seemingly the last of his kind, Tachyon wastes no time in setting out to ensure that Ratchet meets his end, therefore also ending the Lombaxes.

Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction (PlayStation 3) image

This winds up having the effect of leading Ratchet on a hunt for a mysterious Lombax artifact capable of opening rifts to other dimensions in order to solve the mystery of why the rest of his people disappeared. Of course, there will be complications. Tachyon would love to use that thing to bring back his race and the captain of a band of space pirates is determined to claim it, as well. Oh, and Clank keeps getting contacted by strange beings call the Zoni, who might provide help whenever possible, but also are very opposed to that device being used.

This leads to a lengthy quest that takes Ratchet and Clank to a dozen or so different planets. He'll visit the original home worlds for both the Lombaxes and Cragmites, break a friend out of an intergalactic prison, launch an assault on the space pirates' base and compete for prizes in an arena. In a bit of a pleasant surprise, that stage gives you more to do than just take part in an array of battles. This time, it's a full planet complete with an amusement park and large numbers of Tachyon's guards on the lookout for Ratchet.

So, what's a Lombax to do when confronted by all sorts of hostile creatures under orders to exterminate him? That's where the game's weaponry comes into play. You'll be able to use the bolts you obtain via killing foes and destroying objects to purchase a vast array of stuff that makes battling a joy. You'll start out with a basic gun and bomb-lobbing device and then move on to more destructive goods, such as a rocket launcher, a shotgun and more esoteric weapons, including beasts that home in on foes or an electric whip that's perfect for eliminating foes hiding behind shields.

By using a weapon regularly, it will gain experience and increase in level. This is good, not only because each one gradually get stronger, but also because when one is maxed out, it gains a new ability to make it even more deadly. Also to your benefit is the mineral known as Raretanium. Collect enough of this and you can use it at weapon vendors to further upgrade them with more power, more ammo, a faster rate of fire and the ability to harvest more bolts and Raretanium from foes.

As one might expect, it's easy to pick a few favorites from this bunch. When fighting a lot of enemies, I loved one gun that auto-targeted a few of them with each use, so I could focus on evading attacks without the hassle of having to line up my shots. Another that proved to be a major part of my onslaught was a weapon you'd drop on the ground, only for it to fire off a bunch of beams that swarm anything within its range. Not only was this great for clearing out rooms, but those beams could really help to wear down bosses while I peppered them with my guns.

Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction (PlayStation 3) image

Regardless of what weapons I liked the most, though, I found it wise to get used to many of them. While Ratchet has a basic melee attack, his wrench is really only useful against the weakest of foes. Most enemies all but require the use of those fancy guns and there tends to be a pretty limited number of ammo boxes in most places in the game unless you're lucky enough to be fighting in or near a room containing a vendor and can use that guy to restore your supply at the cost of some of those bolts you've been collecting.

It's hard for me to find too much to complain about in Tools of Destruction. I will say that the three rail-shooter levels didn't nearly meet the standard set by the actual planets you'll explore. Your ship doesn't have the varied arsenal that Ratchet will amass, which turns those levels' boss fights into tedious battles of attrition where you'll constantly shoot for what feels like an eternity while moving around the screen to dodge their attacks.

Fortunately, those stages tend to be brief interludes that do little more than serve as bridges between far more interesting worlds and their diverse assortment of challenges. One planet opens with Ratchet and a couple allies engaged in massive arena-style battles with wave after wave of foes. Get through those and you'll enter one of the game's vehicles to navigate claustrophobic corridors where, instead of enemies, you'll be contending with sporadically-firing jets of flame. You'll only have to explore a portion of another, but after fulfilling its plot requirements, you'll likely find it lucrative to visit all the areas you'd skipped previously, as there are a number of large dinosaur-like monsters well worth your time and effort to dispatch…assuming you have the firepower to do so.

Tools of Destruction provides a lot of entertainment thanks to its diverse assortment of worlds to visit and weapons to use upon enemies. You have a wide range of objectives and a lot of ways to tackle them, with the majority of what you'll be doing being extremely fun. I might have been really late to the party when it comes to the Ratchet & Clank series, but making up for lost time has been a very rewarding experience and this one has only fueled my need to play more and more of these games.

overdrive's avatar
Staff review by Rob Hamilton (September 14, 2023)

Rob Hamilton is the official drunken master of review writing for Honestgamers.

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