PSN has been home to some of the more ambitious digital download games of this generation, with many pushing their production values further than titles on rival service Xbox LIVE Arcade. Insomniac's Ratchet & Clank: Quest for Booty is the latest game to offer this PS3-quality experience in bite-sized form, effectively sacrificing none of the visual and audio splendour of last year's PS3 debut in a mini adventure with an appropriately modest price tag. The Ratchet & Clank games have always been about the complete package though, with the gameplay, graphics, audio, humour, mini-games and crazy characters combining to make one of PlayStation's most successful series, so is this tightly woven gameplay nugget up to scratch?
Fans of Tools of Destruction will know that it ended in a less than satisfactory fashion. Quest for Booty picks up where that left off, so Clank has been taken by the Zonis and Ratchet is left looking for him. This is essentially the plot to this mini adventure, with Rusty Pete and Captain Slag's head talking you through what's going on. The elaborate cut scenes from Tools of Destruction have been replaced by simpler animated 2D scenes and a map that shows where you're going, but this suits the style of the adventure well and doesn't jar like you might expect it to.
Quest for Booty comes in at brief 3-4 hour play time, but it costs £10 and as such can't be judged against full-price adventures. Considering some modern games can last no more than six hours and cost upwards of £40 it's not such a bad deal. The problem comes from what is expected of games in the series. With Rusty Pete and Captain Slag there's still a large dose of humour, but Clank is missing (therefore not able to contribute with his usual dry humour) and series favourite Captain Qwark is nowhere to be seen. The result is a game that feels ever so slightly lonely.
Another element that the series is known for is the constant barrage of new weapons and the brilliant levelling up system. This has been seriously toned down in Quest for Booty, to the extent that you can only upgrade your weapons twice. There's also no gold bolts to search for or skill points to earn, limiting replay value. This might be us being a tad picky for what is a budget-priced game, but these are the things fans will be expecting to find - the fact that it only costs £10 probably won't lessen the slight disappointment.
New to the series is the ability to use Ratchet's wrench as a grappling hook. This comes into play during puzzle-like sections and proves to be a solid addition to the toolset. Even though the game can be completed in an afternoon it's packed to the brim with these puzzle elements and the platform action gameplay that made the series so popular. In fact we'd go as far as to say the core gameplay is even better than it was in Tools of Destruction. If Insomniac had released Quest for Booty as a full on 12-hour adventure and managed to sustain the level of intensity throughout we'd have been looking at the best game in the series.
Something that simply can't be downplayed is how good the game looks. It's easily up there with the best the PS3 has to offer and even beats Tools of Destruction in terms of texture quality, frame rate and lighting - especially during the stunning looking cave sections. With a full on sequel promised for next year we can't wait to see what Insomniac can do with the engine.
At £10 Ratchet & Clank: Quest for Booty is well worth a download (or a purchase on Blu-ray in Europe). Compared to some other PSN titles it doesn't offer the same replay value, but it more than makes up for this in production values and overall quality. If thought of as a mini-adventure rather than a full game it ranks up there with the best the series has ever offered and as such is essential to all action loving PS3 owners.