Version tested: PlayStation 3
Is it fair to criticise a sequel because it offers nothing new? After all, there would be no sequels if there wasn't demand for more of the same. Having ordered a meat feast pizza, do you complain because what turns up is just like the last one you had? Maybe you just wanted another meat feast pizza. Except with the pepperoni, ham and smingy brown stuff arranged in a slightly different order.
Ratchet & Clank fans who just want more of the same won't be disappointed with A Crack in Time. It's pretty, polished, funny, expansive, satisfying and rewarding, just like all the previous instalments in the series. There are hordes of enemies to batter and bolts to collect. There are puzzles to solve, doors to open, rails to grind on and jump pads to bounce off. Despite the global economic meltdown, business at the crate factory must be booming as there are endless piles of boxes to smash open - wooden ones, metal ones, exploding ones, more wooden ones.
There is a new plot, of course. Clank has been kidnapped by the Zoni at the behest of the evil Dr Nefarious, and Ratchet is on a mission to rescue him. Along the way he bumps into a grizzled old fellow Lombax, General Azimuth, and they join forces. Captain Qwark returns to provide comic relief, and there are plenty of good, occasionally Hitchhikers-esque jokes right from the start (opening voiceover: "Space. It's huge. So huge in fact that if you lost your car keys in it, they would be almost impossible to find.")
There's some nonsense about long-lost fathers, a bit of bobbins about a machine which can turn back time and a lot of conversations about what needs to happen next. These are largely redundant as whatever needs to happen almost invariably involves Ratchet visiting a strange alien planet, running and jumping around a lot and blamming a load of enemies to bits.
This is just as much fun as it's always been. Ratchet is a pleasure to play thanks to responsive controls, fluid animations, seamless weapon-switching and a camera which keeps up with the action. His new Hoverboots make it easier and faster than ever to get around, which is handy as some of the levels in ACIT are massive. The boots are also useful for jumping off ramps to reach high-up areas and special collectables. As always, there are enough of these to keep the hardest of the hardcore busy once the main game is complete.
The Hoverboots are the best of the bunch when it comes to new gadgets, but it's a pretty small bunch. The same applies to weapons. New additions include the Plasma Striker, which is a sort of rocket launcher with a sniper scope attached. It's particularly satisfying to use when you hit the precise targets shown in the scope, thereby causing extra damage. The Plasma Striker is also great when combined with the Cryo-Bomb Glove. This encases enemies in ice, leaving them immobile and you to pick off those targets with ease.