As Mum sorry Lorraine put it in Back To The Future, a man should be strong. Good news, then, because this is a week of STRONG MEN. And I'm not just talking about Marcus Fenix, star of Gears of War on PC, or whatever the men are called in Call of Duty 4, stars of Call of Duty 4, and I'm not just not talking about them because we've talked about them a lot this week, although actually I am. In fact, for the purposes of this hastily constructed and evidently poorly thought through introductory paragraph, I'm not even just talking literally about men! A Lombax will do. Ratchet's a Lombax. And he's strong.
Or at least he was. And like Lorraine, we're wrong about what's important in a man. For example, I am not particularly strong, and I am now going to try and think of a better example. Bertie! He's not particularly strong, but he has hair like a microphone and often wears clothes. These are important qualities. They are the sort of qualities that Insomniac Games, creators of Ratchet & Clank: Tools of Destruction, have realised that Ratchet should be imbued with, because in Ratchet: Gladiator they took a turn for the dark side. He was a more sophisticated Ratchet. The fan feedback said they liked Ratchet the way he was, and so did they as developers. Ratchet's personality is more engaging when he's being that confident screwball.
"In Ratchet: Gladiator we took a turn for the dark side. He was a more sophisticated Ratchet," said Insomniac's Ryan Schneider, in Ellie's preview that I'm using to pad out this paragraph because I haven't seen Kristan's review yet. "The fan feedback said they liked Ratchet the way he was, and so do we as developers. Ratchet's personality is more engaging when he's being that confident screwball." And so he is again. And so the response is more positive, or so I hope it is because otherwise I'm going to have to rewrite all this tomorrow. Did you know I write these on Wednesday nights with a bottle of Blossom Hill? I'm such a confident screwball. With a personality. And the other thing about the thing.
Unlike Marty McFly, who invented skateboards by stealing them (mustn't do a Sixaxis joke, mustn't do a Sixaxis joke), Insomniac knows that we don't have to show Lorraine that Ratchet is a fighter. But he is somebody who is going to stand up for Lorraine, or at least whichever fictional universe it is Ratchet inhabits, and protect it/her/the core thrust of this week's testingly unimaginative attempt to stop you pressing Page Down. And that I assume he does, and almost have to assume it, because Sony hasn't given me a PS3 debug unit so I can't play the review code and have to wait until it comes out like you do. Did you know the Ratchet games have sold 13 million copies? Well apparently they have. And if this one is like the first two, which I loved so much that I very almost nearly stayed here eulogising them just then instead of getting up to go to the toilet, then it's probably worth buying providing it's actually good so read the review.
Anyway, the game out this week that I adore having actually played and am probably now safe talking about because the people who snipe at me in the comments bit will assume all this is still about Ratchet because they don't read it anyway is Gears of War. I got to spend a handsome chunk of this week playing the new bits repeatedly for our review and then our where are the COG tags 'thing', and I'm almost tempted to recommend PC-owning Gears-on-Xbox-lovers take a punt on this too. Granted, you're not getting a huge amount of additional content, but what is included is very challenging on Hardcore and above.
As I said in the review, Gears wins because its cover-point gameplay does best when it has new level layouts to consume. It's almost all it needs. And the new bits are home to some wonderful scenarios. One in particular springs to mind: a shootout in a fairly typical courtyard that has three entrances and a lot of Locust (including a Troika) to outmanoeuvre and chainsaw. Pegged back because Dom's an idiot and the Locust are extremely aggressive, you need to work your way between each choke point. The thing that makes it work is the limits placed on the Locust's encroachment; they push you back, forcing you into a corner, but you can always fight those corners, not least because there are three and one is elevated. It's as much fun as I've had being abused by pinheaded monsters since earlier this week when I walked to work with a plastic guitar sticking out of my bag and someone on the other side of the street called me a "nonce". And on that note, buy some games.
- Ben 10 (PSP, DS)
- Blue's Journey (Wii Virtual Console - NeoGeo)
- Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (PC, PS3, Xbox 360, DS)
- Catz 2 (DS)
- Darkness Within: In Pursuit of Loath Nolder (PC)
- Deal or No Deal (DS, PC)
- Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3 (PS2)
- Dynasty Warriors: Gundam (PS3, Xbox 360)
- EA Playground (Wii, DS)
- Endless Ocean (Wii)
- Fashion Designer: Style Icon (DS)
- Gears of War (PC)
- Hamsterz 2 (DS)
- High School Musical: Sing It! (PS2)
- I Did It Mum (Boy Version) (DS)
- I Did It Mum (Girl Version) (DS)
- LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga (Xbox 360, PS3)
- Mega Man Star Force (DS)
- NASCAR 2008: Chase for the Cup (Xbox 360)
- Nicktoons: Attack of the Toybots (Wii)
- Power Golf (Wii Virtual Console - TurboGrafx-16)
- Ratchet & Clank: Tools of Destruction (PS3)
- Star Assault (PC)
- Strawberry Shortcake - The Four Seasons Cake (DS)
- Switchball (Xbox Live Arcade)
- Super Mario Bros. 3 (Wii Virtual Console - NES)
- The Simpsons Game (PS3, PSP)
- The Sims 2 Teen Style Stuff (PC)
- Tony Hawk's Proving Ground (Wii)
- Word Puzzle (Xbox Live Arcade)
- WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2008 (PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, PS2, DS, PSP)