I'll go ahead and say it up front: Ratchet & Clank is right up at the top of my list of greatest video game franchises of all time. Since the very first installment back in 2002. the series has consistently delivered engaging stories, hilarious characters, beautiful graphics, and - most importantly - amazingly solid and intuitive gameplay. Having recently brought the series to PlayStation 3 with Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction, Insomniac decided to ease the pain of the cliffhanger ending of that title by giving us Ratchet & Clank Future: Quest for Booty, a small, downloadable nugget of a game meant to bridge the gap between Tools and the upcoming 2009 sequel. A noble gesture, but can a series known for its epic scope be condensed into a four-hour experience without losing some of its polish? I spent an evening with everyone's favorite (and only) Lombax in order to find out.Loved Good Old Gameplay: As essentially an extension of Tools of Destruction, Quest for Booty retains the same solid gameplay we've come to expect from the series, easy and intuitive from the get-go. New Mechanics: The new tether ability of Ratchet's Omniwrench adds a fun new gameplay element to the mix, and the ability to pick things up and hurl them with the tool makes for some rather entertaining platforming puzzles. Super Fuzzy Graphics: Quest for Booty uses the same graphics engine as Tools of Destruction, which means it is also one of the best looking games on the system, with graphics approaching CGI cartoon quality. The Big Reveal: I won't spoil it for anyone who hasn't already heard. I'll just say that the revelation at the end of the game regarding Ratchet's whereabouts may have elicited a tiny, girlish squeal. Don't go looking it up on the internet, just find out for yourself first hand. Hated A Little Short For A Lombax: Four hours just doesn't feel like enough time to spend in the Ratchet & Clank universe. I hate to say it, but I almost wish they'd just make me wait for the next game. I know the game is only $15, but for $15 I could go pick up a copy of one of the earlier, longer adventures and replay that instead. Lack Of Variety: You won't find any side games in Quest for Booty. Just standard R&C gameplay with a few new mechanics thrown in and countless pirates to kill. There are a few monsters to kill and some entertaining bosses, but for the most part it's prates, pirates, and more pirates. A good game should leave you wanting more, but it also needs to give you a sense of fulfillment to counterbalance that want. While I thoroughly enjoyed the four hours I spent playing Ratchet & Clank Future: Quest for Booty, I feel like all I accomplished was trading one cliffhanger ending for another cliffhanger ending. Instead of being its own game, it feels more like a really long teaser trailer for the next title in the series. Ratchet & Clank Future: Quest for Booty is an enjoyable but far-too-brief look at what's next in one of gaming's greatest platform franchises. Ratchet & Clank Future: Quest for Booty, developed by Insomniac, published by Sony Computer Entertainment and released Aug. 21 on the PlayStation Network. Retails for $15.00. Played through entire game on normal difficulty.

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