Run, Lombax, Run
Ratchet and Clank is a popular action game property that’s exclusive to Sony and the PlayStation, so it’s only natural to do a double-take at Ratchet and Clank: Before the Nexus for mobile.
Before the Nexus isn’t actually a full-fledged Ratchet and Clanktitle, however, nor does it contain the depth of any of the series’ mainstream entries. In fact, Before the Nexus is a 3D endless running game that plays much like any other runner slumming around on the App Store or Google Play. It looks great and it should keep you busy for an hour or two, but the game obviously exists just to whet your appetite for the latest Ratchet and Clank title, Into the Nexus for the PlayStation 3.
As its name implies, Before the Nexus takes place before the events that unfurl in Into the Nexus. Vendra Prog and her brother, Neftin Prog, are making trouble. And, like most villains in endless running games, they’re making a beeline for the horizon. Ratchet gears up to stop them. Luckily, Lombaxes are fleet of foot.
Before the Nexus has “Ratchet and Clank” in its title, but Ratchet does most of the work on this run. Clank hangs out on his buddy’s back as usual, but he doesn’t lend so much as a witty quip. It’s a bit disappointing, since a little humor, voice acting, and general back-and-forth would help set Before the Nexus apart from other endless runners.
As it is, Before the Nexus is competent, but doesn’t offer anything super-special. Ratchet’s primary objectives are to run, shoot, and avoid dying. It is worth noting that the game’s terrain switches between rail-grinding zones and combat zones, which mixes up the action nicely and should keep you coming back for another run, if nothing else does.
The gunplay in Before the Nexus is spotty, unfortunately. You fire shots by tapping on an enemy, which is simple enough – until your big dumb finger gets in the way of the scenery, making it hard to tell what’s targeting you, and what pitfalls are looming ahead.
Dodging hazards in these instances can also be difficult. Before the Nexus is responsive for the most part, but it tends to stick when you try make evasive maneuvers. Sometimes, going from firing your weapon to swerving left or right takes a split-second longer than it should, and that split-second is not something you can afford to lose when enemies are bearing down on you.
Before the Nexus does look good thanks to smooth character models and rich outdoor environments that never make you doubt you’re in the Ratchet and Clank universe. The animation is also fluid, and there’s no sign of slowdown aside from the aforementioned gun problem.
Before the Nexus is a typical endless running game with a couple of issues as well as a couple of smile-worthy surprises. If you’re into the Ratchet and Clank universe, or if you just like collecting endless runners, you’ll enjoy this. If you’ve had it with the genre, or if you’ve sworn only to touch the very best it offers, feel free to skip ahead to Into the Nexus.