Ratchet & Clank Review
The PlayStation 2 is the best selling console of all time, and that was largely helped by the stellar library of games in its lifespan. This incredible selection of games included the very well regarded Ratchet & Clank series that helped to define platformers of that era. The PS3 era of games that were known as the Future series were a little more hit and miss, so the series has now returned to the past with a reimagining of the original in the simply titled Ratchet & Clank.
Insomniac Games has had much success in game development over the years with series like Spyro, and even the much darker Resistance. While these series have performed well, Ratchet & Clank is definitely their most prolific franchise with 10 entries developed directly by them. This almost led to a feeling of series fatigue, but wisely the series has slowed it down over the last few years, giving it room to breathe ahead of not only Ratchet & Clank for PS4, but also the upcoming movie as well.
Ratchet & Clank has a rather rich history of storylines that could have easily been built upon, but Insomniac Games instead took the risky move to reboot the series only 14 years later, though with a twist. This game is definitely not a sequel or even a straight up remake either, but truly a reimagining of the events of the original game as told in narrative form through another character in the future. This is a very interesting take that allows this game to technically be in continuity with the others, while still differing in some ways based upon the same overall events.
The plot of Ratchet & Clank will feel very familiar to anybody that played the original, offering the same genuine, light hearted story that works well as a complement to the incredibly fun gameplay. This origin story goes back to the very beginning where Ratchet and Clank meet and team up for the first time to take on the villainous Chairman Drek and his forces. The story itself may feel like a bit of a retread for series veterans, but there is one twist in the storytelling here that will work very well for those who have played the original games, while newcomers may feel it spoils something later in the game, even if it is rather predictable.
There is no doubt that every Ratchet & Clank game has had impressive visuals for its time as a result of the more cartoon like designs, but Ratchet & Clank really takes that to the next level. The power of the PS4 not only allows the colorful designs to prosper on the gorgeous landscapes, but also features a level of detail that makes the character models look stunning in action, even down to the fur on Ratchet and the shine off of Clank, and other surfaces. This can be seen even more so in the large levels, like where you are riding on a long train or flying around in a city. The return of the original voice actors for the main characters was a wise decision to bridge the gap between the two as well.
Ratchet and Clank both start their journeys separately with a few areas of gameplay to themselves, but very quickly they meet and the game really begins, with their banter still as enjoyable as ever. With the power of his OmniWrench 8000, Ratchet can beat down enemies in fairly simple hack ‘n’ slash type gameplay. This is effective against the hordes of smaller monsters, which can be used with ground slamming attacks, but there are also stronger enemies that are harder to hit with this short range weapon, which is where the other weapons really come into play. These are especially useful in the more complex boss battles that are a blast to play.
Outside of a few weapons that are acquired within the story, most of them must be purchased at the Gadgetron vendor stations with bolts, the in-game currency, which are rather plentiful if you are destroying pretty much everything you can in the game. The original game had a wide array of different weapons you could collect like the Pyrociter, with most of them returning this time. To make up for the few that aren’t returning though, they have added a number of other weapons that were introduced in the later games instead, including some crazy weapons like the Groovitron and the Sheepinator.
Brings the series back to top form
The game also includes a leveling and upgrade system for each of its weapons, which is very effective at preventing the weapons from feeling overly repetitive as the game goes on. Just by using the different weapons, their level will raise and become stronger, but the upgrade system adds more depth to the experience. By using collected crystals in the game, you can upgrade weapons to improve range, speed, and other areas through a hexagonal grid that is reminiscent of Final Fantasy X’s Sphere Grid.
Ratchet & Clank also features a number of gadgets that you can unlock in the game that will be used in different areas. This includes the Hoverboard that allows you to take part in racing segments, which are a little too simplistic and easy, and others like the Grindboots, though some are earned in different ways this time. Just like with the weapons, there are some gadgets that did not debut until later in the series but are present here, such as the Jetpack. Additions like this make the game feel very expansive to newcomers, while also offering enough to get veteran players of the franchise back for another round.
Collecting these different weapons and gadgets will be very important beyond just the main story, as the game has certain inaccessible areas that require you to come back later with a specific item to continue. These typically involve finding the collectible Holocards in the game, which definitely adds a little replay value to the experience. In fact, there are the more uncommon RYNO cards that when collected can be turned in to unlock the RYNO gun. Beyond that, and some of the side missions like Hoverboard races, there isn’t a lot to keep you coming back after beating the game, but the budget price for the game helps to alleviate that issue.
Ratchet & Clank has been one of the shining gems of the platforming genre for years and the latest brings the series back to top form after a little downtrend. Developing a reimagining of the original game instead of a sequel was a risky move, but it pays off handsomely with a new game that brings together the best of the franchise into one entry. While the endearing story may feel familiar, the robust weapon system and outstanding gameplay mesh perfectly together in the visually beautiful Ratchet & Clank.
Ratchet & Clank
- Available On: PS4
- Published By: Sony Interactive Entertainment
- Developed By: Insomniac Games
- Genre: Action-Platformer
- US Release Date: April 12th, 2016
- Reviewed On: PS4
- Quote: "Developing a reimagining of the original game instead of a sequel was a risky move, but it pays off handsomely with a robust weapon system and outstanding gameplay meshed perfectly together in the visually beautiful Ratchet & Clank."