While our favorite Lombax’s tail is as long as ever, his latest tale has been cut down in length significantly. Insomniac’s downloadable Ratchet & Clank Future: Quest for Booty is shorter and cheaper than a full retail game, yet it still retains that high-end console quality that we saw in Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction. Does the decision to decrease the duration pay off, or does this Quest for Booty end in disappointment?
Quest for Booty begins right where Tools of Destruction left off; Ratchet, the heroic Lombax, is searching for Clank, his robotic pal that was kidnapped by a mysterious race known as the Zoni. During his adventure, he and his companion Talwyn cross paths with the swashbuckling Rusty Pete, prior first mate to the nefarious Captain Slag. Pete agrees to help them find the Fulcrum Star, an artifact that should help Ratchet locate Clank. The plot is pure gold as usual, with top-notch humor that keeps you smiling the whole way through. While it would be nice if Captain Quark had some involvement in Quest for Booty, the game’s spectacular ending is a fine compromise.
The rest of the game similarly feels like an extension of Tools of Destruction. The gameplay remains relatively unchanged; there’s an even split between combat and platforming, with a little puzzle solving thrown in to top things off. Platforming is on par with that seen in Tools of Destruction, with crazy gravity-defying challenges and entertaining grind-rail segments. Combat, however, is downgraded from the last installment. The basic mechanics work fine, but both the enemy and weapon variety are lacking. The range of opponents (or lack thereof) is understandable; since the game is shorter, it’s reasonable to expect that your adversaries won’t be as diverse. The dearth of weapons isn’t explicable, though; only a pittance of the overall Tools of Destruction arsenal made the cut. Admittedly, what’s present, from the wacky tornado launcher to the trusty fusion grenades, still works well, though.
There are a few minor changes to the overall formula that freshen things up slightly. Ratchet’s wrench has gotten a few upgrades, of which there are two notable effects. Ratchet can now pull, push, and otherwise manipulate objects with his new kinetic tether. This provides several unique gameplay opportunities such as shifting platforms into line or moving objects to cast a decipherable shadow on the wall. The other wrench element is a simple one: Ratchet can now pick things up (and subsequently throw them repeatedly like a disgruntled toddler). This mechanic gets interesting when you encounter Helio Grubs, little creatures that emanate light. If you pick them up, you can illuminate dark areas, scaring away pesky bats and revealing your path in the process.
And what does that path look like? In this case, exactly like Tools of Destruction – and that’s not a bad thing. The graphically intensive characters roam the lush and vibrant environments at a crisp 60 frames per second. Sony promised Pixar-like graphics for the original PlayStation, but it took them two additional generations to achieve it, first with Tools of Destruction, and now again with Quest for Booty. The game, especially for a downloadable title, is truly a sight to behold.
Unfortunately, the modest length — a little over three hours — makes the entire experience feel rather stunted. You just don’t have time to get into the game before it’s over. Nevertheless, what’s there is funny, enjoyable, and most importantly, worth the price of admission.