Ratchet and Clank – Review
It’s was 2002 when the charming Ratchet and his equally endearing metallic chum Clank first graced the PS2. The game shifted millions of units and captured the imaginations of legions of fans, and where peers such as Jak & Daxter and Sly Cooper faded, Ratchet & Clank excelled. Many continue to argue which is the between PS3 iterations of Ratchet (specifically Tools of Destruction and A Crack in Time), while Insomniac continued to experiment throughout, consistently remaining true to the core tenants of the franchise – endearing characters, hilarious dialogue and wacky weaponry. 2016 is the biggest year for the franchise yet, with not only the motion picture that was based on the original game but also the remake – a game based on the movie that was based on the game. Some creative liberties have been taken in this remake, but the result stands toe to toe with the peaks that the franchise has delivered to date.
If you’re yet to play the original game then add it to your pile of shame, but it’s not essential playing before you hit up this newest entry. The original story has been exaggerated and tweaked somewhat by the outlandish Captain Qwark, but it for the most part (excluding a big twist at the games finale) the game delivers a slightly more condensed, yet largely identical retelling of the original game’s story. Ratchet dreams of joining the Galactic Rangers, and working alongside his idol Captain Qwark, but due to a few tussles with the law, Ratchet cannot be accepted, but everything changes one fateful day when on Quartu, the Warbot factory churns out a “defect”, not wanting to be obliterated, the defect escapes and flies and crash lands on Veldin where he meets Ratchet. With a new name, Clank joins Ratchet on an adventure to put an end to the devious Chairman Drek’s plan to wipe out planets in order to build a new one for him and his species – the Blarg. You’ll once again cross paths with the likes of Skid McMarx, his manager and the shifty Ryno Salesman and more, so it’s wonderful to see this new take on the original merge with what had made the game so successful in the first place.
Of course, the key to any Ratchet game is the moment to moment action, and there’s been incredible growth in both the franchise and the industry in the years since the game first launched, but this 2016 reboot doesn’t dwell on the past too much. There are of course some old-school weapons such as the Combuster, Pyrocitor and of course Ratchet’s trusty Omni-Wrench 8000, but they’re joined by more recent gems like Mr. Zurkon and the brand new Pixelizer. The Ratchet franchise has always been known for its extravagant arsenal, and Insomniac delivers once again with this new game. I was continually impressed by the scale of the explosions I created while I felt sufficiently challenged in a number of larger encounters, needing to switch between multiple weapons into by possession to get the job done. The game could have benefitted from a few new inclusions to Ratchet’s arsenal, but what you’ve got already packs a sizeable punch, so you’ll be well equipped for any sticky situation you may find yourself in.
The platforming is as tight as ever, the puzzles cleverly designed and the combat is sharp – Ratchet and Clank does an exceptional job of harnessing the charm that made the original game such a hit and merges it with the modern day tendencies that have ensured the franchise remains among the industries elite. Outside of the core experience you can take your time, explore the environment and collect golden bolts, collectible cards and of course Rareitanium that will enable you to upgrade your weapons in a vast yet accessible upgrade system.
It was well publicised before launch, but the case remains the same now that the final product has arrived – Ratchet and Clank is a stunning game. The differences between CG cutscenes and gameplay are so minuscule that you could quite easily mistake the game for a Pixar film (with a HUD) while the soundtrack evoked numerous memories that I’d carried with me since playing the game back in 2002. James Arnold Taylor, David Kaye and Jim Ward reprise their roles of Ratchet, Clank and Qwark respectively and deliver their lines with the same class that has enabled each of the characters to become some of the most endearing in the business, but other key characters Drek and Doctor Nefarious are also exceptionally realised. I did clip through crates every now and then but this is such a minor flaw and the game is so polished in every other area that you’ll hardly notice nor care about this issue.
As years have gone by we’ve seen a number of remakes come and go, we’ve seen a number of other attempts to revive old franchises, or bring them to new audiences – but very few have done it as effectively as Ratchet and Clank. Taken at face value you’ll see this 2016 remake as a gorgeous looking game, but dig a little deeper and you’ll uncover the fantastic depth that has made the franchise so appealing for well over a decade. This updated classic ticks all the boxes, has reinvigorated the franchise and has the potential to garner a new legion of fans that drives the franchise to new heights in the future.