Games: Ratchet and Clank reveals more of PS5 bleeding-edge promise
Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart (PS5)
SOUNDING like R2-D2 having a stroke, the electronic pops and farts of early games loading from tape meant excitement was just around the corner.
Whether you were Team Spectrum or Commodore, those proto-PlayStations would chug for five minutes before players could press start. It was what made consoles, with their insta-loading cartridges, so desirable.
Yet even today, the scourge of loading means lengthy cut-scenes and inexplicable corridors to mask your hard drive's exertions.
With its solid-state SSD memory, however, the PS5 promises to make loading a thing of the past, and its latest platformer is in many ways its first true sizzle reel - a flagship game built from the ground up that demonstrates all of Sony's magic tricks, and the first example of how SSD memory can influence not just loading times, but create new gameplay previously impossible with a mechanical drive chugging out data.
The 17th game in a series often overlooked by players ravenous for gritty military shooters, Ratchet and Clank's hair-trigger capers have always been a joyous antidote to hyper-real misery simulators.
We've not had an original outing since 2013's Into the Nexus on the PlayStation 3 - its developer too busy with Spider-Man to bother with PS4 platforming.
It's fitting, however, that Insomniac - who cut their PlayStation teeth on Sony's first attempt at a Mario-rivalling mascot with Spyro the Dragon back in 1998 - are behind the PS5's greatest family-friendly blockbuster.
Once again our adventurous tinkerer and his robot companion hop and blast their way through a screwball adventure that coasts on tongue-in-cheek yuks and madcap action sequences.
When Dr Nefarious makes off with the Dimensionator - a weapon that can open rifts between worlds - our pair gets separated, ending up in a dimension where their old foe is supreme ruler.
The ensuing jaunt has players controlling both Ratchet and Clank as well as Rivet and Kit, their estrogenic parallel-universe counterpart.
A full-fat, planet-hopping shooter that wrings every drop of gimmickry from the PS5, players zip around its myriad levels in an instant, entire new worlds blasting into view in the gaming equivalent of a cinematic smash-cut.
Split across a number of planets, each with their own eco-system, there's wall-running, grappling hooks, bosses and cause-and-effect puzzle sections lifted straight from '90s head-scratcher Lemmings.
The series' trademark arsenal returns, its array of weapons available to buy and upgrade with the game's generously doled out currency.
The Topiary Sprinkler, which turns enemies into well-manicured hedges, and Mr Fungi, an enemy-annoying mushroom, are just a few of the wild n' wonderful death-bringers on offer, all of which feel wonderfully tactile through the DualSense controller's pressure-sensitive triggers.
Yet for all its bleeding-edge tech, Rift Apart is a warm, old-school romp, with less of the snark that typified previous games.
After the bouncing musicality of Sackboy and the mammoth-hearted nostalgic appeal of Astrobot, Ratchet and Clank complete a triumvirate of incredible platformers for a console barely seven months old, offering a genuinely exciting glimpse of what to expect from PS5 in the coming years.