It’s been a good 14 years since the first Ratchet and Clank graced us with its presence on the PlayStation 2. Since then, Ratchet and Clank have appeared on the PS2, PS3, PSP, and PS4 and have been a staple of the PlayStation brand. To tie in with the movie that will be in theatres this Friday, Insomniac has released a re-imagined R&C game on the PS4. Will Ratchet and Clank be a worthy addition to a stellar line-up of games or are the Lombax and robot running out of steam?
When I purchased my PlayStation 2 in 2002, one of the first games I played was Ratchet and Clank. I had been a huge fan of Spyro the Dragon on the PlayStation 1 and this was a brand new game from Insomniac that kept the core elements of what made Spyro so great with so much more depth. Ratchet was a brave and daring character almost to a fault while Clank was a conservative little robot who always tried to bring Ratchet back down to Earth. I instantly fell in love with the game and have owned every single game in the franchise along with the multiple remasters. It’s my favourite franchise so I was excited to get back into the R&C universe and enjoy a new (re-imagined) adventure.
I will say I was slightly afraid that this Ratchet and Clank wouldn’t live up to my expectations. The last R&C game I played was Into the Nexus and it was a very short and sweet experience that left me wanting a bit more even though it was a wonderful game. I have to say the 2016 version of Ratchet and Clank exceeded my expectations and brought me back to why I enjoyed this series so much in the first place.
Ratchet and Clank follows the same story as the original game from 2002, but this version is completely rebuilt from the ground up on the PS4. Instead of sticking with the same elements that were found in the original, this version pulls together successful elements from the later games in the series while adding some brand new ones. This creates a fantastic and fresh entry in the series.
Very few games deliver quite the way Ratchet and Clank does when it comes to looking like a CGI movie in a video game. The worlds a vast and colourful, the enemies are varied and distinct, and the characters are expressive and have plenty of personality. Make no mistake, R&C is one of the most beautiful looking games on the PS4. The lighting is gorgeous and bounces off every surface so well. It makes the effects when using weapons that much more impressive. As a player, you really feel like you’re causing havoc as the bolts fly and explosions occur everywhere. The bolts even look spectacular coming in copper and silver colours. The destruction comes together in one chaotic, colourful mess. Couple the beautiful visuals with a well-written story that adds a lot of content to the original storyline and you have a winning formula.
Throughout the history of the series, Ratchet and Clank has implemented some incredibly imaginative weapons. Some of those make their return in this iteration along with a few new surprises. Things like The Pixelizer make their début turning enemies into a pile of pixels while Mr. Zurkon makes his return to talking smack to all the enemies he takes down. More important than the variety of weapons at place has to be the presence of the weapon upgrade system which makes the weaponry so much more diverse. Each weapon levels up as you use it giving you special bonuses. Weapons also have an upgrade grid that you can use to upgrade ammo capacity, damage area, etc. Players use Raritanium to pay for the upgrades in the grid. It becomes addicting to upgrade your weapons and see the path of destruction they cause. There is even a collectible card system that provides more upgrades than those you already have, so R&C provides a lot of different ways to make your characters better.
The game gives you incentive to go back to earlier levels with new abilities like grind boots and the jet pack. Finding all the gold bolts in the game unlocks random extras in the main menu that can altar your appearance or certain effects in the game. It’s more of a chore to go through the random levels just for that than it is exciting though. You’ve already played through them so it’s just like cleaning up. That’s not a knock on the game, it’s just annoying to have to backtrack for that.
I love this version of Ratchet and Clank just as much as I’ve loved any other version. The beautiful locations and characters, imaginative weapons, and well-written story bring the whole game together in one great package. I would recommend this game to everyone, there aren’t many good action/platformers out there and R&C does it better than anyone. Here’s hoping this is the start of many more games for the Lombax and robot combo.