VERSION(S) REVIEWED: PLAYSTATION 3
Ratchet & Clank: Quest for Booty
Written & Edited by: Prof. Purble & Eria
Published: 22th, November, 2022
'Ratchet & Clank: Quest for Booty' is a 3D action platformer released exclusively for PlayStation 3. The title was developed as a direct sequel to 'Ratchet & Clank: Tools of Destruction', with a much smaller team and serves as a setup for the events of ‘Ratchet & Clank: A Crack in Time’.
Due to time constraints, several assets were reused from the last installment as a base, most notably, the Space Pirates, which became this games main theme and is among one of the shortest games in the franchise, clocking in at around 4 hours to beat the main campaign.
Directly continuing off from the last adventure,' Ratchet has teamed up with his girlfriend, Talwyn in search of Clank, who was mysteriously kidnapped for reasons unknown by a race of beings known as the Zoni. Their only lead is to locate a pirate known as Captain Blackwater, who is rumored to know quite a lot about the elusive Zoni and thus, together they infiltrate a fleet of space pirates in the hopes of seeking out the Captain.
Along the way, they find an old ally, Rusty Pete, who is mourning the death of his old Captain, Slag. When he catches wind of Ratchet and Talwyn, his startled noises draw the attention of others who are quick to announce Blackwater is deceased. To gain control of the situation, Rusty Pete decides to impersonate Captain Slag to give the order to blast Ratchet and Talwyn out of a cannon off to an island, where they "would find exactly what they are looking for."
After a short expedition and assisting the island inhabitants, Ratchet and Talwyn discover an Obsidian Eye telescope, said to be built by Captain Blackwater himself to stay in contact with the Zoni and would reveal the exact location of where Clank is, but before they could celebrate however, they found out the Fulcrum Star used to power it has actually gone missing. The island inhabitants mention it is rumored to be at the final resting place of Blackwater. Knowing this to be their only lead and hope of seeking out Clank, the duo set sail, now searching for the Fulcrum Star.
Despite the game's title, Clank is completely absent and the whole focus of the story is to find him. While the game aims to recap the events of the last adventure, it doesn’t very well establish who these characters are besides giving a very quick synopsis for Ratchet. No context is given for who or why Talwyn is here, besides her apparent role of being Ratchet's "current girlfriend."
Ratchet is able to move just as he could in earlier titles such as strafing and jumping, though his double jump doesn’t have as much forward momentum as I would have liked, especially with some jumps feeling almost unfeasibly spaced out.
The controller scheme is what felt the weirdest to me as it was designed to include the kinetic tether ability, allowing him to move certain obstacles with his OmniWrench tool however, its activation is quite unpredictable and it refuses to work if you’re currently holding anything other than the OmniWrench. You also need to be standing stationary once activated to move obstacles and platforms, which can also leave yourself more vulnerable to enemies and the surrounding environment.
Ratchet uses Nanotech as his health and can be upgraded with enough experience. Nanotech crates are seen in various spots around the level and smashing will replenish a small amount to keep him in the fight.
Due to the lack of a weapon's vendor, the item select wheel feels more like a progression meter as you're handed weapons for free during story progression. This limits the bolts, which is this game's currency, to serve only as a means to progress via paywalls at certain intervals. Thankfully, you should have more than enough when you face these junctures, so long as you’re conservatively smashing the hundreds of generic crates generously placed around the level.
The first gun you’re given is inexplicably taken away once you reach the second level, and isn't returned until you have progressed further into the story. Luckily, Ratchet has his trusty OmniWrench as a means of defense, but confiscating something the player had just grown accustomed to within the first opening minutes of playtime without a good reason seemed quite unnecessary. Not only that, but all weapons you receive have predetermined upgrades. It's as if the enemies were so tough, the weapons themselves had to be buffed up to give players a fighting chance.
Weapons can thankfully lock onto your enemies, making the tightly narrow level design encounters a lot more manageable, although the real challenging part will most likely be the limited ammunition capacity and the means to restore it. In previous games, you could restore ammo via a weapon’s vendor, but the absence of this severely limits you to rely on ammo crates that are sparingly dotted around the environment, and can be a real pace breaker due to their long respawn times.
The only penalty for dying is being sent to your previous checkpoint, of which there are plenty and I never found myself too far from where I had perished. All experience is kept as well.
The enemy AI were given very weird and questionable spawn locations, sometimes showing up with zero warning, even appearing off-screen, leading to many times where I'd take damage before I'd have time to react.
There are some memory and puzzle mini-events to break up the platforming experience and were memorable to an extent, such as conjuring up the correct drink recipe based on a pirate's singing and although it seemed cryptic, I was able to pass these on my first attempt.
Visually speaking, the game looks impressive overall for the hardware of its time, although it lacks creativity with the reuse of assets from its predecessor. Maps at least are original with sprawling and brightly colored environments and none really overstayed their welcome.
The animation quality looks decent, but this only applies to select cutscenes, making very good use of stretch and pulling on models, although the bottom of Ratchet's eyelids tend to clip into his eyes and there are quite a lot of cutscenes where the characters will just be standing still while engaging in conversation. As for the gameplay front, Ratchet only has one walking animation cycle and that goes the same for most of his actions with next to no variation.
Ratchet is nearly mute for the entire adventure and has the mechanic of multiple reply options during dialogue discussions. Although this changes nothing within the story, it merely serves to get different flavor text responses.
Talwyn's writing made her very unlikable and isn't much support as she'll oftentimes be jet packing ahead of Ratchet and scolding him when she's left behind, leaving our poor hero behind to fend for himself, while trying to deal with his girlfriend's neediness as he searches for his best friend, Clank. Her presence feels merely to serve as the protagonist’s temporary sidekick, but doesn’t adequately fulfill her main purpose as a main support character, which contradicts the whole point of why she is in this game to begin with.
Ratchet's outfit seems very generic and not at all fitting for a pirate themed adventure. Whatever happened to his iconic orange outfit?
The 2D artwork presented as cartoonish simplistic drawings aged really well, and it helps to lift the light-hearted nature of the overall story as they appear during level transitions. The weathered paper filtering also fits with the theming of the story.
For potential replay value, three difficulty options: Easy, Medium and Hard can be chosen from the start of every adventure, but can not be changed after it has been set. The only real difference seemingly affects enemies' overall health, which means you’ll have to be a lot more preservative with the limited ammunition available at your disposal.
While the graphics of its time stood out as impressive, accompanied by a short driven narrative, its enemy AI and pace breaking elements ultimately hindered the overall experience and enjoyment. Its lack of time in the development oven led to a lot of assets being reused from its predecessor, but stands out enough to have its own unique identity. 'Ratchet & Clank: Quest for Booty' in today's landscape is in need of a lot of QoL improvements before it potentially re-releases in the distant future, but until then, it remains exclusive to a 7th Generation console with no news of a potential re-release at all on the horizon.