Games: Franchise callbacks and Easter eggs abound in action platformer Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart

Ratchet and Clank are back for their first PS5 adventure
Neil McGreevy

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart (PS5)

By: Sony

THERE once was a time when any self–respecting console needed a platform mascot. Gazing with envy at Nintendo's Mario and Sega's Sonic, Sony threw a menagerie of creatures at the wall to see what would stick. And while Crash, Spyro, Jak, Daxter and Sly Cooper all found varying success, it was the unlikely pairing of an alien mammal and his robotic buddy that encapsulated the PlayStation brand's snarky self-awareness.

Nearly two decades on, Ratchet & Clank's goofy space odysseys have served up four console generations' worth of sci-fi parody and barely disguised schoolyard filth with games such as Size Matters, Quest for Booty and Up Your Arsenal.

The most recent – 2016's PS4 reimagining of the original, released as the tie-in to an animated box office bomb – is currently being given away free to whet appetites for the duo's next dimension-hopping adventure, touted to be one of this year's biggest PlayStation exclusives.

Set after the events of 2013's Into the Nexus, Rift Apart sees our wise-cracking furball and his automaton buddy attempt to save the galaxy from Dr Nefarious, who, armed with a dimension tunnelling device, searches for a reality where he always wins.

Separated early on, Clank meets a playable female resistance fighter and they explore new and familiar locales with new dimensional twists. For a series forged on outrageous weaponry, Rift Apart's groaning arsenal of fan favourites share the spotlight with all-new death-bringers such as the Shatterbomb, Topiary Sprinkler, Burst Pistol and Enforcer Shotgun.

Franchise callbacks and Easter eggs abound in an action platformer stuffed with meta charm that's been built from the ground up for PS5. Graphical bells and whistles are a given, with showboating Pixar-level animation lavished on Ratchet's fur, while Crank's metallic bod gleams in all its ray-traced finery.

But as one of the first PS5 games not to get a simultaneous PS4 release, Rift Apart is unshackled from old-school loading, and its dimension-hopping conceit puts the console's nippy SSD drive through its paces. Levels are rendered in seconds while players can be instantly teleported into new dimensions.

Not only that, the DualSense controller adds nuance to Rift Apart's blasting, with each weapon reacting to how you yank the trigger, while haptic feedback ensures your hands feel the impact.

With Astro's Playroom and Sackboy, the PS5 doesn't want for decent platforming, but Rift Apart's intergalactic jaunt promises to take things up a notch with its technical showboating. Slated for a June 11 release, it gives franchise fans a few more months to beg, borrow or steal a PS5.

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