Review by c_rake
This filler episode in the Future trilogy may provide some laughs, but ultimately doesn't satisfy
The word "filler" is thrown around frequently in television. It's usually used to connote a show or episode whose purpose is to tide people over until the next proper entry in the series arrives. In the case of videogames, filler would connote something like Ratchet & Clank Future: Quest for Booty: a short but entertaining installment that doesn't manage to completely capture all the magic of the series proper.
As the middle-point for the Future trilogy's story, Quest for Booty is a short-story of sorts that explores the brief downtime between the first and third parts of the Future trilogy. Most of the cast takes to the sidelines here, with Ratchet and his friend Talwyn, returning from the previous game, following a lead that could help them find the now missing Clank. That lead takes them to a pirate fleet helmed by a pirate captain named Darkwater, who's said to have knowledge about the mysterious race called the Zoni -- the ones who stole Clank away.
It's a brief, but entertaining tale that's accompanied by tons of humorous dialog. The majority of it comes from the narrators, Rusty Pete and Captain Slag from Tools of Destruction, who chime in in between gameplay segments for a bit of exposition while in transit to next bit of gameplay, spouting off humorous remarks about events in the story all the while. Witty quips of dialog aren't so plentiful with the rest of the cast, sadly. Ratchet is silent for most of the game, only contributing a line or two in the odd cut scene. The inhabitants of the islands Quest for Booty takes place on may contribute, but their efforts feel halfhearted in comparison to the series' usual comedy prowess. They're gags mostly consist of taking jabs at the fact that they're having Ratchet take care of their problems, such as fixing wind turbines that supply the island they're on with power, instead of doing it themselves through rather flimsy reasoning. So basically it's the old, "Hey! We're making fun of our own game! Aren't we clever!" routine.
Gameplay wise, Quest for Booty delivers some great platforming and shooting action. Ratchet is without Clank's handy traversal abilities, so platforming sticks to the basics here. That's not to say it's bad, of course; just that it's on easy side. This leaves the combat as the only source of challenge present. It's competent in its role, though there are only a few points where the combat gets to shine.
The game's structure tries to achieve an even split between the two gameplay types, but in practice it ends up feeling sloppy. Fitting all the usual content in a Ratchet & Clank title into a 2-3 hour game, while a worthy effort, simply isn't possible because doing so doesn't allow any facet to hit their stride. The structure is as follows: A focus on platforming in the beginning, then a shift to combat once Ratchet regains his arsenal (he loses his weapons soon after the opening sequence), followed by a nicely balanced, but brief mix of the two. That's enough time to gain some fun out of them, but not satisfy. That's because as soon as you start getting hooked on the action, the game's over soon after.
At least Ratchet has gained some new skills out of this. Seems Ratchet used that downtime between Tools of Destruction and this to make some upgrades to his trusty wrench, as now it can generate an energy stream of sorts that allows Ratchet to manipulate certain objects. He can also use it to pick up and throw, or carry, certain objects. Its new features are used lightly, sort of similar to how an extended introductory segment would, which provides little room for exploration of its abilities, but its presence at least gives the wrench some more worth aside from the usual box breaking duty that it often gets relegated to.
It's an effective weapon as well, of course, but only because you're forced into using it as such during the early stages of the game. The rationale behind that decision is because Ratchet loses all his weapons -- all of which return from the previous game -- early on and must therefore slowly retrieve them. The weapons can all be upgraded via experience earned from blasting up pirates (they're the enemy that appears most). Nanotech (or health) also sees periodical increases through the same means as well. Upgrades are a lot more limited here, however, as enemy encounters aren't prevalent enough to earn the experience necessary to max out your health and all your weapons. Usually these elements would provide some incentive to re-play the game, since experience was carried over to each new playthrough in previous titles. But here there's no such option, thus removing any sort of replayability. Sure there are multiple difficulty levels, but they don't extend the experience much farther given the game's length.
The best thing that can be said about Quest for Booty is that its visuals are gorgeous. From the lush vistas of the islands to the dark, musty look and feel of said islands cavernous attributes, Quest for Booty manages to impress with its visual splendor. The caverns are particularly noteworthy for some excellent usage of lighting.
Splendor alone doesn't make a great game, however. Though it manages to deliver enough of the series trademark elements to entertain, it's length ends up being the one aspect that does it in. For 2-3 hours worth of gameplay with no form of replay value, and priced at $15 no less, Quest for Booty is a tough buy for anyone but the most die-hard Ratchet & Clank fans. The story will most certainly entertain, but that alone isn't enough to justify a recommendation for.
Rating: 2.5 - Playable
Product Release: Ratchet & Clank Future: Quest for Booty (US, 08/21/08)
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