Review Ratchet & Clank

Written by Twisted Ideas

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Ratchet & Clank has been in a weird limbo for a few years now. A Crack in Time was intended to be the final chapter in the duo’s story but we kept on getting games. All 4 One and Full Frontal Assault were spin-off games, Into the Nexus was a shorter game that felt more like an epilogue than a full game and they have been in cameos and characters in several other games. To help promote the upcoming movie at the end of April, the original Ratchet & Clank has been remade and it is the team’s first game on the PlayStation 4. With a few changes to the game’s plot and structure, does Ratchet & Clank stand tall in this next generation of gaming?

Ratchet_and_Clank_coverRatchet & Clank

Developer: Insomniac Games

Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment

Platform: PlayStation 4

What is it about?

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Ratchet & Clank is a story about a Ratchet, a lombax mechanic who dreams of becoming a hero and a defective warbot named Clank who crash lands on Ratchet’s planet. Clank warns Ratchet about the an evil Blarg named Drex. Drex is creating army of warbots to mine planets for their natural resources and destroying them in the process to create a new world for the Blarg. Ratchet and Clank use this information to join the Galactic Rangers and travel across the galaxy to save the day.

How does it play?

Ratchet & Clank is a third person shooter. Ratchet is armed with an array of unique weapons to cause as much mayhem as possible. The game is divided by planets, each with their own objectives and that can have potential gadgets that will allow the duo to progress through areas. The levels are decently sized, many of which are near recreations of the original game’s levels. As you progress through the game you will be able to buy new weapons with bolts that are dropped by enemies and debris. Each weapon will gain experience and level up as you use it against enemies and you can further upgrade your weapons buy using raritanium to increase their effectiveness.

What’s new?

The structure of the game has been altered to improve the flow. The backtracking between planets have been removed and while most planets make a return some haven’t as the story wasn’t written to include additional worlds. Most of the missions are the same as the original game but more flight sections have been introduced as well the Clank sections. Clank’s levels are more puzzle oriented and have been completely changed to be faster and more challenging. The infiltrator puzzles are also more difficult.

Holocards are a new addition that provides pictures and history to iconic characters, placed and weapons from the series. Holocards can be dropped by enemies and found in packs in levels. A set of three cards will unlock a permanent bonus for you and if a weapon set is complete you can buy Omega Weapons for challenge mode. You can trade five duplicate cards for one brand new card so you won’t have to farm any specific card later on. If you collect all of the RYNO holocards then you will unlock this game’s RYNO.

How does it look?

Ratchet & Clank looks beautiful. All of the returning original worlds have been remade from the ground up. The amount of detail is greatly increased and is instantly familiar to old school fans. Not every world was brought back but some elements from the world left out have been integrated into other worlds. The explosions and effects from all of the guns creates a very chaotic spectacle but it’s never too unclear on what’s going on.

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The planet is on fire and now I’m sideways.

All of the characters are very animated and look fantastic. You can see the individual furs on the animal characters, mainly Ratchet and the lighting effects look great.

There’s a visual effect when you’re near an explosion that makes it look like you’ve taken damage. It very distracting at first because you may think that you’re taking damage when your not and try to scramble to recover from nothing.

The one thing that bothered me about the visuals were when characters were talking with each other outside of cutscenes. It has the camera angles that Bethesda games have where it focuses on the character speaking instead of staging the scene. It would have been okay except that sometimes Ratchet appeared to be talking to nobody because he’s staring straight ahead instead of upwards because most characters in the series are taller than him.

How does it sound?

The voice actors of Ratchet, Clank and Captain Qwark all reprise their roles so old fans will feel right at home. The rest of the voice acting accomplishes what it needs to. All the comedic characters come across as such as well as aliens having distorted voices but still understandable.

The background music is always lively but is very understated that it doesn’t come across as memorable. It’s not a big deal but the original game’s background music were themes rather than generic background music.

What do I think?

Ratchet & Clank is a game series that remains incredibly fresh, solid and fun no matter how many sequels there are. With the growing popularity of open world games with content that can last for days it’s nice to have a good old-fashioned action platformer. This is really the same old Ratchet and Clank that we’ve come to love and even though the weapons are all the standard amount of crazy we’ve come to expect, they all fit very standard archetypes.

Other than the holocards, the Clank sections and the general changes from the original game versus the remake, not much is new. That isn’t a bad thing. This gameplay style doesn’t overstay its welcome and the we haven’t seen a Ratchet & Clank game since 2013, which I would assume many people didn’t play. What worries me is that we aren’t going to get a new next-gen Ratchet & Clank game. A Crack in Time was supposed to be the final game in the series but Insomniac hasn’t been able to completely shelve the series. When you have a series that has space travel, you can literally go in any direction you want in the series. It would be hard to top the Future series but I still think Insomniac should give it a shot instead of teasing us is smaller games, cameos and spinoffs.

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PS5 Maybe?

I like the additions to the original story. It gives more personality to Ratchet to start with, the Galactic Rangers are a colorful cast of characters and gives Ratchet a good motivation, Drek and the Dr. Nefarious’ (added to the story) plan felt more urgent and Captain Qwark  was sympathetic by the story’s conclusion. What I miss was that original conflict between Ratchet and Clank. There was a lot of tension between the duo after they were tricked by Qwark. Ratchet remained very hostile to Clank who always had the greater good in mind. It made Ratchet unlikable and I can see why it was dropped but when the two forgave each other, it formed the foundation of their friendship. In the remake there wasn’t a real pivotal scene that marked the start of their friendship. The two were immediately close. Aside a scene where Clank talked Ratchet out of a slump, Clank felt much more secondary to this version of the story. Also Clank didn’t get the explanation as to why he was a defective warbot. In the original game, it was a brief scene but was memorable and impactful. Clank never had a real great moment in the game. Captain Qwark really had more going for him that Clank did but narratively it could have been so because Qwark was retelling the story.

Should you get it?

Ratchet & Clank unfortunately had to compete with Dark Souls III as they shared a launch date; whatever hype the game would have had been likely overshadowed by the competition. What Ratchet & Clank has going for it is that it’s not a full priced game. This was the case with Into the Nexus which was a much shorter experience but this is a high quality game and a decently long game with the traditional challenge mode and upgrade system to keep you coming for more. This is a great reintroduction to the series for the next generation and even if this is just to promote the movie I hope that Insomniac was more plans for the duo in the future. If you’re a fan of the series or just looking for a sizeable game that’s polished and fun, no need to look further than Ratchet & Clank.

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