The rock-solid framerate and gorgeous, Jolly Rancher-sheened graphics make this the best-looking downloadable PS3 game to date, with routinely excellent voice-acting - the default narrator, cowardly brigand Rusty Pete, does a fine job of pitching the humor at just the right side of salty sailor talk, and even resists all those potential booty jokes. By now, Insomniac knows exactly how to squeeze the best out of its game engine, and there are quirky puzzle mechanics thrown in to break up the platforming (including shaking up surprisingly tony cocktails to get past a belligerent grog merchant, and a follow-the-leader musical sequence involving a gigantic pipe organ). The brilliant score has also been lovingly expanded, sounding even more stereotypically pirate-y than before.
In fact, it's all put together and paced so smoothly that, for any halfway decent player, progress is pretty much continuous. It's possible to complete the story arc in roughly the same time it would take you to watch the overstuffed Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (okay, maybe longer if you attempt the hardest difficulty setting). And while the game is more consistently entertaining than any of the Pirates movies, once Quest For Booty is over, there's not that much incentive to revisit what is essentially a linear yarn (with a slightly unsatisfying climax). Part of the fun of Tools of Destruction was replaying the game after you'd maxed out your flamethrowers, buzzblade launchers and disco grenades - here, even once you've restored some of your peacemakers to their former vandalistic glory, you can't take them with you on a second go-round.
There's also no sign of the standalone arena levels where Ratchet was charged with taking on waves of baddies within certain constraints - short bursts of intense run-and-gunishment that would seem like an obvious inclusion for a downloadable title. And a final moan: why no jetboots upgrade for Ratchet this time? I hadn't realised just how much I'd gotten used to Superman-ing my way round the levels of Tools of Destruction until this nimble ability was withheld.
As a benchmark for the potential technical and artistic quality of downloadable games (albeit ones that piggyback existing franchises), Quest for Booty be a triumph, for sure. Its slickness might make it too easy to hurtle through in one sitting - but it'll help kill some time until next year's Talk Like A Pirate Day.
Bottom Line: An impressive-looking, streamlined R&CF experience that eases back on the killpower in favour of brainpower. But once it's done, it's done.
Recommendation: Aaarrr! (Worth a look.)
Graeme Virtue is a freelance writer based in Scotland. He wrote about his numbskull urge to finish mediocre PS2 action-adventure games in The Escapist Issue 151.