Copyright Adam Schlosser
Contact:
aschloss@gmail.com


Copyright 2005 Adam Schlosser


Posted by Pip

HLD19- Sinco De Mayo

And that brings this fun little arc to a close. Lots of stuff happened in this one too and you just thought it would be a simple story about their holiday! Changing Gluttonies, diplomatic gestures from the Sin community to to the Virtue-ites, the booze flowed mightily, and somebody got set on fire! Actually, those last two go hand in hand more than we'd all like.
I like this page. Took a danged long time to do as well. Not only because of the coloring, shading, and multiple layers, but Photoshoppe crashed halfway through and didn't have the decency to just crash, it corrupted the file in the process. Took me an extra hour and a half to fix it. Bleh.

Still looking for a play tester for episode 2 of the Murdoch game. Pretty please? Email me! aschloss@gmail.com


Long, Laaaaawrence! Review: Ratchet and Clank: A Crack in Time- I'm a huge Ratchet fan, have played all the console versions, and Ratchet 3 ranks up as one of my most favorite games, but the newest installment gets a complete “Meh”. The gameplay is basically the same in every game, so when everything is running fine, it's fun, but the humor is what sets the Ratchet series apart and it really falls flat here. Most of the jokes are just blatantly obvious and you'll be able to call punchlines as soon as the setup comes. When a character says "don't worry, my gun isn't even loaded" the punchline is pretty much guaranteed. The weapons are introduced in these cutscenes that feel like rip-offs of the Plasmid ads from Bioshock but they just aren't funny. The humor picks up later in the game (oddly when the story is going the mega-serious route) but it never really rises up to the bar they've set with past installments. I think the main problem is that they keep making the scenarios and levels more grandiose and epic but that doesn't add anything to the game. They add more and more gadgets and different kinds of play (grinding, space fights, hoverboots, clank levels, time mechanics, clank's mini-games, the various ways your gadgets and wrench work) but none of them make the game more enjoyable and several of them are boring or poorly implemented. The core Ratchet levels are fantastic so instead of adding more to the game, just refine and fix what's there and I'll be thrilled. The weapons are uninteresting this time around and are just slight variations on what we've seen before and some are even duplicates of each other. You have an ice bomb that freezes enemies for a short while and you have a net that holds enemies still for a short while. You have a regular shotgun and then you have another shotgun except it burps instead of fires bullets. The new modifiable weapons are neat but the game never really does anything with them. You can change some properties for them (armor piercing vs explosive rounds), but outside of one or two mods (making bombs explode on proximity rather than contact is rather handy) the differences are so minor that you won't notice them once the fights get going. It's also very poorly polished for a Ratchet game. The camera is the worst in the series, generally just freaking out at times, spinning wildly, getting so cramped you can't see what's around you, or jolting at the last second causing you to fall of of platforms or miss jumps. It's fairly okay if you're in a wide open space or just exploring but it can't handle tight corridors and absolutely spazzes if you have your back up against a wall. The hoverboots could have been fun and added a manic element to melee fighting, but the camera and controls freak out when you have them and it just gets extremely frustrating. The characters talk during gameplay but you can rarely make out what they're saying. There's so much noise and commotion that you miss much of the dailogue and the subtitles don't display in gameplay, so it just comes across as gibberish. The skill points aren't really interesting this time (mainly repeating a certain action, grinding a stat, or doing something boring [finding invisible boxes? Seriously?]). I was never a fan of the series's space fights and they're out in full force and extreme boredom. They're slow, control poorly, and every one is almost the exact same as the one before it. They could have removed the entire space exploration/dogfighting aspect of the game and it would have been better for it. Ratchet and Clank spend most of their time apart again and, surprise surprise, the Clank levels stink. The time puzzles (think knock offs of that Flash game where you controlled 100 variations of your cursor to accomplish a goal) are fun at first but quickly become tedious. None of them are particularly hard (I solved all of them on my first try) but they just aren't fun. The Clank sections are made all that much worse by Clank's new partner, Sigmund. He rarely shuts up, doesn't have anything interesting to say, and basically repeats the same joke every single time. He can't get the computer to be nice to him! That's... slightly humorous the first time they argue and mind numbing the 30th time. The lack of polish shines (dulls?) in how buggy the game is. You'll frequently fall through platforms, get stuck in objects, not grab onto ledges, enemies will run in place or against walls, the game refuses to save at times so you have to open and close the save menu a few times to get it to work, videos won't load properly and will play for a few seconds, load, play some more, load like you're watching a video buffer on a 56K modem, textures won't load in movies, and the cinemas even cut themselves off. Characters will be in the middle of a sentence and the cutscene just ends. There isn't even a bonus for having saved data from the previous games! That was one of the things I adored about Insomniac's games and it was total fanservice but they didn't do it here. I read online that there was going to be a skin for having past saves, so I guess it got cut out or it just doesn't work. Heck, the game can't even keep track of its own data. You have a community profile that tracks your progress and stats, but it stopped working halfway through the game. It recognized when I got new armor but my stats are the same at the end as they were in the middle. It's just another pointless half-assed feature. Insomniac's voice work, art, and animation are fantastic as always but without refined gameplay and humor, the cracks start to show. I'm tired of the same old collectathon and it keeps getting bigger. Just running around getting the hundreds of thousands of regular bolts has become an extreme chore (you don't get the box breaker or magnetizer until you're practically done with the game) and you have the skill points, gold bolts, Zoni, RYNO schematics, tedious missions for people, leveling up your weapons all over again, leveling up Ratchet all over again, and weapon mods all to hunt down on top of it. I don't care if the game is only a few hours long without all that fluff, just price the game accordingly and make it a tight, polished product. If you judge Crack in Time based solely on the game, you're looking for a letdown. Even on the Medium difficulty the game is extremely easy. Not a single boss in the game poses a remote challenge outside of the camera freaking out and causing you to fall off the stage. The final boss in the game is absolutely wrecked by the Mr. Zurkons and for the last two bosses, all you need to do is jump from side to side and you'll dodge every single one of their attacks. Don't expect any resolution on the plot points introduced in Future either. Aside from the Zoni's backstory, none of the characters or plot points are fixed. You get some minor details about the Lombax race but despite how the search for them drives the story, nothing comes of it. They even introduce new plot points that don't get resolved. Wait for the sequel, in other words.
Sins Committed: Tedious, Bad Camera, Collectathon, Bad vehicle segments, Buggy
Virtues Acted: Good animation, Good art, Good voicework, Good story