A Pace Above the Rest?
Ratchet and Clank fans rejoice! Tying in with the Playstation 3’s release of Enter the Nexus, the aptly named Before the Nexus brings the loveable Sony mascots in the guise of endless runner. While the genre has been, ahem, running a little stagnant (no pun intended) Ratchet and Clank: Before the Nexus has tons of polish, and plenty of replay value, but with competing games running for your attention, is it enough to keep it a head above the rest?
Shaken but not stirred
Before the Nexus is much more than a companion app. Sure, owners of the PS3 version will get more mileage (Raritanium can be transferred to the main game for weapon upgrades) but the game itself is fun in its own right. As the name suggests, Before The Nexus takes place before the main game and has you in control of Ratchet and robot sidekick Clank. The story, simply is, an excuse for the duo to run off into the horizon.
Anyone who has picked up similar games in the genre since Temple Run will immediately feel right at home. Swipe left or right to avoid obstacles, up to jump and tapping on the on-screen enemies will have you firing your weapons, however this shooting mechanic forces you to block at least half of the screen real estate with your thumbs. Gameplay can get chaotic at times, filling the screen with enemies though it never becomes too difficult, keeping the platforming and shooting completely separate. Sure it doesn’t break new grounds or attempt to introduce new formulas, but the addictive nature is still there.
The currency of Before the Nexus takes the form of bolts, which are collected from shooting down enemies as well picking them up strewn across the level. They can be used to buy upgrades such as weapon and gadgets. These doodads range from genre staples such as jetpacks, multipliers and magnets. Weapon upgrades let you take down enemies much easier. Armors are purchasable as well, allowing players extra life to help increase their run streak. A freemium model is present so those impatient can drop a couple of bucks for quick unlocks.
The graphics are smooth and animations are fluid. Before the Nexus has retained the visual cartoon charms of its console brethren and it permeates throughout enemy models and animations. The environment is dynamic, transitioning from lush grass fields to metallic interiors as you progress throughout the level. Though after numerous replay, I began to notice the recycling environments. However all these come in a package of a measly 50MB storage space. There is one thing missing from this portable adventure that I’ve come to love from the series: clever voice acting and dialogue. Then again I’ve come to not expect much from a mobile game.
Ratchet and Clank: Before the Nexus doesn’t run into new grounds but right alongside it. There are in-app purchases, being a free game, but they don’t deter much from the overall experience. While I find the game enjoyable the developers trace the lines of many games before it, offering little new to the table. However, fans of the genre, and the Ratchet and Clank series in general, will find a worthy cause in Before the Nexus.