Challenge: One of the big problems with Ratchet ToD was the lack of challenge. CiT definitely nailed this one. I felt that completing the main campaign on the “hard” setting was on the easy side, but there is tons of challenge in getting the skill points and PSN trophies, doing the optional moon side-quests, collecting the Zoni/bolts, and most importantly, improved arena battles. I still prefer the approach of the older Ratchet games that spread the arena style challenges over the ends of different campaign missions in different non-arena environments.
Visuals: Compared with ToD, CiT adds tons of new graphical effects, filters, and brings back spherical levels. Overall it simply makes more skillful use of the same general technology.
Space Mission Hub: The space combat was pretty simple, but the big improvement was the easy to navigate mission and mini-moon hub.
Tons of Small Changes: The core game design is the same as ever, but there are tons of small tweaks and changes to everything about the game, which make the game feel fresh and improved.
Fun New Mini-Mechanics: Mini-Moon Side Missions are the big standout. Hover boots and time puzzles were also fun.
Aesthetic Improvement: Some of the levels really showed some artistic flair beyond the standard high production values that are expected from the series.
Positives that aren’t new to the series
Core Diverse Action/Platforming Gameplay
Production Values: Animation, voice work, 3D graphics, colorful environments that feel alive, and the cut scene quality are all great.
Diversity and Level Design
Arena Battles: These challenges are often some of the best parts of the game.
Great Level Design + Well Balanced Battles
No Flying: I loved the tilt wing flying segments (not the outer space stuff) in Tools of Destruction and was really hoping that they were going to take that to the next level. Instead, it was completely removed.
No Racing: Mario Galaxy had highly entertaining water race levels, Jak 2 + 3 had the best racing segments in the genre. I’m disappointed that the new Ratchet title doesn’t have anything similar. The hover-boots and rail grinding segments were nice, but weren’t fleshed out into full racing gameplay.
Father/Son Issues: There were many horribly awkward father-son dialog that made me want to slink out of the room. Whoever wrote this game had weird parenting issues and they felt wildly uncomfortable in a game.
Story: It’s extremely well voiced and animated, but the story and characters were unengaging.
Simple puzzles: Many of the puzzles such as the battery-bots and the omni-soaker felt almost like simplified chores.
If you aren’t familiar with the series, it’s really fun: The core fun is the combat and managing all your different weapons and powers and figuring out how to tackle all the different zany and very well balanced levels and battle scenes and then getting awesome Pixar-like production values on top of that.
If you are familiar with the series this is definitely a high point: lots of little improvements and enhancements and polishes to the Ratchet experience. Also, this is a full blown sequel with all new levels, monsters, story, gameplay adjustments, etc.