Xbox Live Arcade may have been romping the headlines recently with Braid, Geometry Wars 2 and now Galaga Legions, but let's not forget that PlayStation Network is enjoying a renaissance as well, with Siren: Blood Curse, PixelJunk Eden and now the heavyweight Ratchet & Clank establishing fierce competition for the contents of your PSN wallet.
Ratchet & Clank games are already split into neat chunks - each planet you visit takes about an hour to exhaust, and then you fly to the next one - so Quest for Booty is an easy set-up: a handful of levels, a few new mechanics, and a witty script that makes the most of decapitated pirate Cap'n Slag and his yodel-throated henchman Rusty Pete, as Ratchet hops, skips and double-jumps around a watery planet gathering equipment to try and track down his wayward sidekick, Clank.
Downloadable games usually only have time to outline and develop a couple of new concepts, and so it is with Ratchet. As well as whacking enemies with his wrench, firing various guns and hoovering up cogs and bolts - the game's currency - players can now use a wrench-tether to grab onto bits of the environment and manipulate them with the right stick. Over the course of the game you move platforms, expand concertinaed bridges, and drag objects across the floor to solve puzzles.
You can also use the wrench to pick up specific objects. Some of these are explosive, and can be tossed with the circle button, but more frequently you're called upon to pick up a glow-in-the-dark grub to light the way across narrow walkways and fend off crazed bats that only attack in the dark, like cute and cuddly versions of Gears of War's Kryll. We're not exactly in portal gun territory with either of the new functions, but the new wrench techniques are put to increasingly good use over the game's handful of stages, culminating in an excellent puzzle involving shadows.
Those of you who follow Ratchet for the laughs as well as the level design are well-served, too. Ratchet's not flying between planets now, so away from the in-engine cut-scenes comical dimwit Rusty Pete is sensibly employed as narrator over friendly storybook visuals, and joined by Cap'n Slag to deliver a few good jokes along the way (Slag complains he only died in Tools of Destruction because someone unplugged his controller, incidentally). Whether or not Ratchet finds Clank we'll leave you to discover, but you can expect to bump into a few old friends.
Level design, of course, is assured as soon as you get to the first proper location, Hoolefar, and the mayor asks you to switch on five wind turbines, which have to be scaled by various means - using Ratchet's gravity boots to climb up the side and dodge electric defences, grinding rails, and the other usual suspects, with a few tweaks to incorporate the new wrench abilities. Later you visit mysterious coves and caverns on the hunt for a Fulcrum Star to power the Obsidian Eye (Ratchet wears its McGuffins on its sleeve), and find yourself on a platform paddle organ, outwitting undead pirates and smashing up giant centipedes.
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