As the saying ought to go, where there's a Jak, there's a Ratchet. No sooner had we finished exciting ourselves over new Jak III details this afternoon than we stumbled upon a similar haul from Insomniac Games' Ratchet & Clank 3: Up Your Arsenal, which has enjoyed a lot of publicity ever since those multiplayer details sneaked out last month. But what of the single-player adventure?
Unlike Jak III - and whatever the naysayers tell you, Ratchet is definitely unlike Jak - a lot of the focus on Ratchet 3 is on what happens in the story, largely thanks to some terrific scripting and characters in the previous titles (Captain Qwark and Abercrombe Fizzwidget to name a couple). You may recall that last time out, Ratchet and his chum Clank found themselves caught in the public eye for their universe-saving troubles, and rather bored of the lack of planets to save. No such luck here - this time Clank has absorbed all the plaudits, picking up a role in his own TV series ("Secret Agent Clank") with Ratchet relegated to the humiliating role of butler as the game starts out.
Still, the universe is never safe with Insomniac at the helm, and - much to Ratchet's delight, we imagine - Clank's rise to fame coincides with Dr. Nefarious rise to renewed infamy, backed by a sinister race of aliens called the Tyranoids. Having decided to do away with all forms of organic life (or "squishies" as he calls them), the evil doctor starts with Ratchet's homeworld of Veldn, prompting the galactic president to send the game's titular duo on a mission to find the only man who ever managed to defeat Dr. Nefarious: Captain Qwark. Qwarktastic.
Despite his various problems, it doesn't take the hapless Captain much time to rise to the challenge, but we'd have to question his methods following news that he recruits ace hoverboarder Skidd McMarx, Big Al (of Big Al's Robo Shack) and, um, Helga to aid Ratchet and Clank in their quest to overcome Dr. Nefarious. All of which sets a ragtag band of nobodies on a collision course with the Nefarious, operating from the Starship Phoenix, home of the Q Force and piloted by the galactic president's daughter (and Ratchet's love interest) Sasha. With us so far? Good.
On the gameplay front, it looks like Insomniac has made good on its promise of plague-tossing weapons and multiple upgrades, with the Infecto Gun spreading a disease to turn enemies against their former comrades (upgradeable to the Infecto Bomb, which affects every enemy within a certain radius of the blast), and the Rift Inducer (black hole launcher) and the N60 Storm Gun (upgradeable to a Hurricane Gun) catching our attention. We also like the sound of the Plasma Whip, and the Refractor, which can be used to redirect laser beams in puzzles, and also to deflect certain types of beam weapons.
As with Jak III, Ratchet & Clank 3 is widely tipped to appear in playable form at this year's E3, and we'll be just as keen to get our hands on it as we are Naughty Dog's title. Look forward to it.