Let’s not whack our sticks around the bushes. There’s little in the way of booty, despite the best efforts of the title to convince you otherwise. And although it’s touted as the bridge coupling Tools of Destruction with A Crack in Time, there’s not a lick of plot furthering. Clank went AWOL at the end of Tools of Destruction and after an incisive romp through a handful of caves, gliding pirate ships and jazzy islands he’s still AWOL.
No, this is a pared back Ratchet & Clank that treasures its hallmark platforming over combat, exploration, story and all the meta-stuff bubbling away beneath the sunny exterior. More of a pricey taster for those who haven’t yet boarded the R&C express than a serving to Ratchet & Clank connoisseurs, then.
Booty kicks off with Ratchet and po-faced cohort Talwyn tiptoeing onto a rain-drenched pirate ship in search of Captain Darkwater. Cast against a gloomy sky, it’s a poky opening that mirrors its weather; a scene choked by flat notes, (flat notes epitomised by a chap cowering behind a turret midway through, a turret you take control of in due course). It’s ten long minutes before the welcome wave of primary colours sweeps through and the combat takes the backseat.
As ever it’s the platforming, bolstered by characteristically tight controls, that has Quest for Booty singing. But outside of that it lacks the explorative (not to mention imaginative) edge of a fully-blown Ratchet & Clank title. It lacks the worlds brimming with life and intrigue that encourage exploration through their richness and exotic makeup. The colourful Hoolefar Island serves as a hub-world but it takes fifteen seconds to stomp from one side to the other. Pirate coves and murky islands haven’t got a great deal on the sprawling metropolises or prehistoric jungles of Tools of Destruction and to confound matters further you’ll revisit the trickle of levels a couple of times too. Boo.
Ultimately it’s hounded by the sense that Insomniac are wrestling with the limitations of PSN. Take the wave-based arena combat or the prolonged boss battles designed to artificially drag out levels. Elsewhere you’ll make an obsessive beeline for a stack of crates, smash it by rote and as the credits roll wonder why you bothered. The splattering of weapons hauled across from Tools of Destruction are doled out as part of the story and while they’re a joy to ply, there’s no time for customisation or buying new ones (save for a single gun made available with the end in sight). Coupled with the uncharacteristically drab worlds, there’s no reason to wander off the beaten bridleway.
It’s buoyed by sharp writing, endearing non-player characters and its trademark humour. The platforming sections are as good as they’ve ever been and the combat is infrequent enough as to not be a grind. But there’s no escaping the feeling it would be better suited as part of a full retail title. Ratchet & Clank is about exploring esoteric worlds home to even more esoteric personalities. Quest for Booty has a few of the personalities, but none of the wonderful worlds.