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Ratchet and Clank Future : Tools of Destruction

The first Ratchet and Clank game on the PS3, "Tools of Destruction" keeps true to Ratchet and Clanks' roots in a lot of ways. Fans of the series will enjoy more madcap action that previous games have delivered, buffed up with improved graphics and physics courtesy of the PS3.

The gameplay handles well, and hasn't changed from previous Ratchet and Clank games in any significant ways. The normal gameplay is third-person action platforming, using a wide variety of weapons. The weapons differ from traditional action games - there's no standard "machine guns" or "shotguns" or "rocket launchers"; instead, weapons include things like "electro-whips", "tornado summoner", and "plasma-beast dispenser". Even the basic "shoot at enemies" weapon is still somewhat unusual - it's like a machine gun, but it's not as fast, and it shoots fire that bounces when it hits enemies. The weapons are fun to use, and even the standard weapons are still enjoyable after a while.

The weapons can be upgraded in two ways - either automatically through use, or more specifically by spending "Raritanium" (an element acquired in certain special areas) on upgrades. Upgrades made with Raritanium follow a pattern - like the Sphere Grid in FFX, you must buy some upgrades to unlock upgrades further along. These upgrades range from damage to range to firing speed to the amount of bolts (currency) generated by defeated enemies with that weapon. Each weapon also has a different path of upgrades to follow, as well.

Besides weapons, the other category of usable items are "devices" - more expensive items usable for only one use per purchase that can't be replenished by finding ammo around the stages. These devices have more spectacular effects than regular weapons, ranging from confusing enemies to leeching health from enemies to stunning enemies in a large radius. They are more "support items" than actual weapons, but can help out in a tough situation. There is also a wide range of inventory items like jetpacks and magnetic boots, but these tend to be more passive and automatic, simply augmenting your normal movement commands (instead of having to switch them in and out). Weapons are aimed either by shooting while looking in a direction, or an over-the-shoulder mode for more accurate aiming.

Other than the normal gameplay, there are also some different segments as well. In some parts, there's rail-grinding sequences, or sequences where you're falling from a great height and must avoid traffic or missiles by moving the Sixaxis controller around. These segments occur reasonably rarely and are short enough that they're fun without being laborious or repetitive. As a whole, the game is very smooth and intuitive, though some of the maneuvers aren't explained very well, despite the pop-up tutorials - in my own case, I didn't trigger the pop-up tutorial for long jumping until I had figured it out myself and was about to do it, despite having unsuccessfully jumped over the same ledge five or six times while trying to figure it out. However, once you figure it out, the game is fun and enjoyable to play.

The graphics are well done, maintaining an over-the-top cartoonish style without being burdened by effects like cel-shading or the overusage of lighting and bloom. Everything is crisp and viewing is easy on the eyes, unlike a lot of PS3 games where due to the lighting and reflections it actually becomes hard to see in many circumstances. The animation is smooth and I didn't experience any slowdown even with a huge number of objects on the screen. The sound is about average - it's all right to listen to, but nothing really stood out in terms of music or voice acting.

Overall, the game is fun and enjoyable. Fans of the series will find more of the stuff they liked - platforming and destruction, with no fancy add-ons or series-breaking additions. The only real problem is that it's all the same as every other R+C game, but in this case it works for the better.

8/10.

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