Reviewed: August 30, 2008
Reviewed by: Mark Smith

Sony Computer Entertainment

Insomniac Games

Released: August 21, 2008
Genre: Action
Players: 1


Supported Features:

  • DualShock 3
  • HDTV 720p
  • Dolby Digital
  • 2388 MB Hard Disk Space

    Screenshots (Click Image for Gallery)

  • For those who havenít already read my Tools of Destruction review, letís just say Iím a huge fan of Ratchet & Clank and I am particularly fond of the reinvention of the franchise on the next-gen PS3. The ending of that game left us with a minor cliffhanger in that Clank had been mysterious whisked away by an alien race of robots called the Zoni, leaving Ratchet all alone. For a while it looked like we would have to wait until 2009 when the next major installment released to find out what happened, but thanks to one of the best kept secrets in game development history, Insomniac has been cooking up a special installment of Ratchet & Clank, available only on the PS Store.

    Ratchet & Clank Future: Quest for Booty is a small episode that fills in a bit of the story between the last game and the next. Episodic content is nothing new. The Xbox 360 is experiment with the delivery system with games like Grand Theft Auto and Tomb Raider, and the PS3 has the Siren: Blood Curse multi-part series. But itís one thing to get you hooked on serial content and another to offer you a single chapter then tell you that you have to wait until 2009 to find out what happens.

    So while Clank is living out the life of a secret agent on the PSP, Ratchet is fulfilling his pirate fantasies in Quest for Booty. Taking up a nominal 2.4GB of your hard drive, Quest for Booty forgoes the fancy CG movies and cutscenes and opts for some stylish storyboard narratives as told by one of the pirate henchmen. In fact, itís not until the end of the adventure that you realize the entire game youíve been playing is a retelling of a story in a book of pirate lore.

    Quest for Booty spans four major locations, all on the planet Merdegraw. These include the Pirate Fleet, Hoolefar Island, Morrow Caverns and Darkwater Cove. You start by taking on the pirate fleet, jumping from ship to ship fighting hordes of villainous pirates and getting familiar with the controls during the opening interactive tutorial. Nothing much is new at this point, but things get more interesting when you are captured and shot out of a cannon toward a distant tropical isle. Your tutorial continues as you learn (or re-learn) how to swing and use your magnet boots to navigate metal walkways.

    Youíll quickly meet up with the mayor who is eager to help you provided you can help him. The first order of business is to repair several high-tech windmills scattered about the island to restore power. Each windmill offers unique challenges to reach the top and turn the bolt required to extend the blades. The first few towers are merely platform puzzles with ledge jumps and magnetic paths that will create some serious vertigo. Later, you will need to perform amazing feats of acrobatics and some rail slides just to reach the towers.

    Once you have fixed things up on the island you set sail for the legendary pirate caves where you unwitting unleash a ghost pirate who immediately attacks the island you just came from. Youíll need to defend that island as well as visiting another island that is home to an amazing pirate secret and plenty of traps and puzzles including mixing cocktails and playing a giant pipe organ.

    Ratchet, or rather his wrench has a few new tricks in this new adventure starting with the Kinetic Tether. This allows you to connect your wrench to distant objects and slide them toward you or pull them down, or whatever. Itís a clever concept that is seamlessly integrated into the puzzle design. The other new feature your wrench now possesses is the ability to hold items starting with lava rocks that can be thrown to blow up barriers, and later you can grab this green slugs that will glow in the dark, thus lighting your way through sinister pirate caves.

    You begin the game with many of the weapons you had at the end of Tools of Destruction, and they are even leveled-up a bit for you, but they are almost immediately removed from your inventory and then slowly trickled back into your possession throughout the game. Youíll have everything back by the final boss fight Ė donít worry. The enemy design is rather limited but they come at you in great numbers often forcing you to change up your tactics from melee to ranged combat. Some monsters are light sensitive and can be repelled with a glowing slug in your wrench.

    There are no arena battles and you donít get to switch over to Clank Ė remember; heís missing, but he does appear in some Ben Kenobi-style visions. You do partner up with a female acquaintance for some levels but you neither control her nor are responsible for her wellbeing. Itís a straight, single-player linear game design all about the action and puzzles and telling a missing piece of a much larger story.

    Despite having only four unique environments, Quest for Booty offers up some epic scenery that rivals many full releases. The tropical pirate island stands toe to toe with the lush environments of Uncharted, only more cartoonish and less realistic, but nonetheless, colorful and charming. Circular doors, high-tech windmills, numerous rail slides, and plenty of swinging and magnetic walkway puzzles keep you engaged at all times. When you go inside the sinister pirate cave, things are very dark and realistically lit with puzzles that require you to find and carry your own portable lighting.

    The intermissions are all handled with in-game cutscenes, and the major story points between chapters are told as an animated storybook with artistic icons moving about a gorgeously detail pirate map. There is a lot of subtle detail in this map as well as every part of this gameís design and overall look. Quest for Booty only supports 720p, but it still looks amazing and I canít imagine it looking that much better if it did support 1080p.

    Quest for Booty recycles a few tunes from the previous game, mostly the pirate-theme music which fits a whole lot better in this game that is almost exclusively pirate related. The score comes to the surface during action sequences and boss fights, and the story sequences, and then it slips to the background for the gameplay.

    During those rare moments of silence you are left to bask in the awesomeness of the exotic environment, the sounds of wildlife, the wind, the water, the explosions and the clatter of nuts and boltsÖitís all there and in glorious Dolby Digital. Every weapon and every gadget comes with its own clever and original sound.

    The voice cast is amazing and everyone plays their parts to perfection, full of life and plenty of humor. As always, youíll want to eavesdrop whenever possible, and the island folk will even treat you differently and say new stuff after you help them out. Of course all the infighting and banter between the pirates will have you rolling on the floor.

    You can rush through Quest for Booty in 3-4 hours or you can relax, enjoy yourself, and explore every last nook and cranny (including a hidden underwater cave with multiple weapon power-ups) for an adventure that will last about 5 hours. Admittedly, this is much shorter than any full title, but keep in mind you are only paying $15, or about a fourth of a full-price game.

    It took me about 16 hours to finish Tools of Destruction so doing the math, this game is priced exactly right for the amount of content and gameplay youíll get. Sadly, there is no replay value but that is still no reason not to replay the game just for the pure joy of it, and those rail slides are always worth a second ride.

    Ratchet & Clank Future: Quest for Booty offers some cool new gameplay ideas that are certain to be revisited in the next major sequel. When the game was over I have to admit I wanted more, but not because I felt cheated; only because I had had such a great time I didnít want it to end so soon. I am totally stoked for the next Ratchet & Clank coming in 2009 and any additional episodes Insomniac might want to sneak in before then.