Sunday 28 December 2014

Veteran double act Ratchet and Clank showing their age

Reviewed: Ratchet and Clank Nexus; Max, The Curse of Brotherhood; Lego Marvel Super Heroes

Published 24/01/2014 | 18:07

Ratchet and Clank: Into the Nexus
Max: The Curse of Brotherhood
Lego Marvel Superheroes

Ratchet and Clank: Nexus

PS3

RATING: 7.5/10

AGE: 7+

THE old-pals act has been resurrected one last time as the PS3 faces its twilight era – more than 11 years after their wise-cracking escapades debuted on PS2.

After some misguided deviations into battle arenas and multiplayer, Nexus brings Ratchet and Clank full circle back to what they do best: a platforming adventure blasting enemies to smithereens with an increasingly silly arsenal of weapons.

But Nexus is missing some of the brio of the series’ greatest moments, the trademark humour is in short supply and there’s an overall sensation of rehashing earlier glories.

That said, an average Ratchet and Clank outing is better than many titles’ finest hour and this is a solidly engineered piece of entertainment – introducing the new concept of anti-gravity streams and a few novel weapons.

But not enough is made of all of them and the sum of its parts is left shortchanged by the brief running time. The lack of longevity is reflected in the price of about €25 (as a download anyway), so ardent fans may feel they’re getting their money’s worth.

The less committed, however, should wait for the inevitable reboot in the next generation.

 

Max: The Curse of Brotherhood

XOne download

RATING: 8/10

AGE: 12

THIS sequel to Max and the Magic Marker simplifies the central gimmick of the original: a drawing tool to create helpful objects in the game world as you rush to rescue your abducted brother.

Bolted onto a standard platformer presented in a charming 2.5D style, the marker can used to conjure pillars of earth, rigid branches, spouts of water, swinging vines and fireballs. But free-thinking isn’t possible here – with the puzzles usually solvable in only one way, even if the physics model sometimes makes your task tougher than it ought to be.

Still, as the game progresses, you’ll need your thinking cap and a good headscratcher as you’re forced to calculate the interplay of your various powers to traverse the levels.

The XOne’s gamepad-based control system sometimes conspires against Max – this was an idea originally designed for Wii after all – but it’s an enjoyable romp, made more palatable by the €12 download price.

 

Lego Marvel Super Heroes

PS4/PS3/XOne/X360/Wii U

RATING: 8/10

AGE: 7+

THE unstoppable Lego monster continues to gobble up popular franchises at a rate of at least one a year. But the result is never less than funny and engaging, even for those older than its target market of under 10s.

Marvel Super Heroes delivers a bigger than usual brickload of fun, offering more than 100 crusaders to play with, each with their own special powers. Familiar favourites such as Wolverine and Iron Man line up alongside obscure characters from the vaults, recognisable only by true fans.

That said, many of the superpowers make little difference to the action, with most puzzles of the variety “only characters with this ability can open this door”, etc.

Twas always thus, of course, and indeed several niggling problems date back to the early games. But you’d think by now developer Travellers’ Tales would have sorted the graphical engine and the frequent snagging on scenery. Likewise, the vehicles and aircraft are a pain to control and poor signposting of tasks will have have the younger ones stumped.

Yet there’s such as generosity of tasks and Marvel love here that it’s hard not to be pulled back into its missions time and time again.

 

 

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