Ratchet and Clank Nexus is yet another reason why Insomniac Games have lost their charm.
When Insomniac Games announced Ratchet and Clank: Nexus, I was intrigued. Having played Tools of Destruction and Crack in Time, I was really hoping that they will fix the series after the underwhelming Full Frontal Assault. But little did we know that Insomniac Games have lost their charm. Ever since Resistance 3, a highly underrated and under-sold PlayStation 3 exclusive was released, Insomniac Games are spirally going down and in a way out of sorts. With underwhelming titles like FUSE, Insomniac Games needs to sit down and think about where they are going. With Nexus, they have literally taken the once popular Ratchet and Clank series to the brink of death.
Ratchet & Clank: Nexus sees Ratchet escorting a perilous criminal Vendra Prog to a detention center but as expected things don’t always go as planned for the furry Lombax. Vendra’s brother Neftin Prog assaults the detention center and manages to get away with his sister. In the process, Ratcher loses two of his closest robot friends, Cronk & Zephyr. Feeling sad as well as frustrated, Ratchet and Clank set out to capture Vendra and her not-so-intimidating brother.
"The story is extremely generic and lacks the deep emotional involvement that we saw in A Crack in Time and Tools of Destruction. On numerous occasions I felt uninspired and could no longer care about the story but still managed to sit out the boredom."
Little do they know that Vendra’s goal is to unite with her distant family, the Nethers, a ghostly community who are natives to the Netherverse. When Vendra awakens The Eye, the leader of the Nethers, Ratchet and Clank once again find themselves saving the universe. The story is extremely generic and lacks the deep emotional involvement that we saw in A Crack in Time and Tools of Destruction. On numerous occasions I felt uninspired and could no longer care about the story but still managed to sit out the boredom.
Platforming, which is one of the core components of the series, is a failure. Most of this has to do with the abysmal level design. Although the developers tried to make the levels more interactive by giving players the ability to create a purple gravity stream between two sections and let Ratchet float through them using the Grav-Tether, it does not make traversing the levels any more enjoyable.
However, one improvement that I noticed was that levels were bigger in scale compared to the previous games in the series. that means there is more to explore but even this positive is negated by the fewer number of planets in the game. This makes the campaign extremely short and raises questions over its price tag.
"Excellent combat mechanics is something that every game in the series has excelled at. Fortunately Nexus does not put the wrong foot forward in this department."
Players can also take control of Clank in mini puzzles called as rifts. These sections are heavily inspired by Terry Cavanagh’s VVVVVV where Clank can control gravity to manipulate the objects around him. The goal is to lure a Nether out of the rift so that the wall obstructing the player can be destroyed. I found these sections to be a pleasant addition and gave a nice break from the disappointing level design.
Excellent combat mechanics is something that every game in the series has excelled at. Fortunately Nexus does not put the wrong foot forward in this department. Along with classic weapons lik thee Omniblaster, Fusion Grenade and RYNO VII, we also have new ones in the Netherblades and Netherbeast which are a blast to play with. Overall the weapons along with the intriguing gadget system are intact here and I’m glad that Insomniac Games did not mess with it.
The new villainous cast of Vendra Prog and Neftin Prog are disappointing. They are not able to bring the sense of humor and cunning that Dr. Nefarious was known for. Even The Eye, the master of Nethers has no character development whatsoever, and despite being the main villain, gets the least amount of footage.
Ratchet and Clank: Nexus could have been a great game. It has some great vistas, bigger scale and an excellent choice of weapons and gadgets. The single player, though very short, can be extended by completing the arena challenges and exploring the different planets. After you complete the game, a harder Challenge Mode will be unlocked, though one boring run-through was enough for us. Ultimately, Nexus is let down by its underwhelming design choices, a weaker cast of characters and a generic story. Time to reinvent the wheel, Sony.
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 3.
Striking visuals; combat is as solid as ever; rift mini game is intriguing.
The core experience is very short; story is generic; platforming mechanics are uninspiring; the new villain cast is boring.
After playing Ratchet and Clank games for a decade, Nexus made me question whether this is a fitting end to Insomniac’s PlayStation legacy. Almost everything about this game is uninspiring. For fans of the franchise, this is indeed a time for much worry and sadness.