But several factors mean that the elusive nine is still in reach. It’s not just the gorgeous visuals or the new scale that makes Tools of Destruction so special, it’s the way that the game feels imbued with heart, personality and soul. Every member of the cast, from the petulant, self-absorbed villain to the old duffer combat robots that assist you later on, has some endearing quirk or defect, and the script is engaging and witty on a level that both adults and kids will understand. It’s actually made me laugh out loud several times – how many other games have a character admonish you for smashing up a bunch of crates that they’ve just stacked. There’s a real sense of warmth in the relationship between our two heroes that puts them ahead of the rest of the platform-hopping pack. It’s cinematic in the best sort of way – it’s not just a feast of likable eye-candy, but a game that can carry you along on its wave of energy and style.
But what clinches it for me is that Tools of Destruction feels like it has been play-tested and streamlined to make it as ludicrously entertaining and flawless as a game can be. Yes, there are times when the camera takes the wrong angle and you die unfairly, or when enemy numbers are a little too overwhelming, but these take up less than one per cent of the game. The rest of the time it’s an effortlessly enjoyable adventure, and one stashed full of enough hidden areas and extra achievements to give those of us who want to do more than just blast through the main storyline something to be getting on with.
So maybe this is ‘just’ the second-best platform game of the last five years, but that doesn’t make it any less wonderful. PS3 owners can now sleep safe in the knowledge that they have a game worthy of the hardware. Insomniac, meanwhile, can now rest easy knowing that they have built a game strong enough to sell it. Everyone else should feel a little bit jealous, because if you don’t get your hands on this game, you really are missing out on a treat.
Tools of Destruction joins Super Mario Galaxy and Psychonauts as one of the best platform games of the last five years. It might miss out on innovation, but in terms of scale, personality and finely polished gameplay, it’s unsurpassed.