It’s been ten long years since the platformer ‘Ratchet & Clank’ first appeared on the PS2. Since then the franchise has flourished, with multiple games over a number of Sony consoles. Insomniac Games has now decided to re-release the first three games as a HD trilogy, but can they stack up against the more recent, flashier iterations?
Here’s a brief rundown for those who have never come across Ratchet & Clank before. Ratchet is a furry cat like creature (whose origin is initially kept a secret) who is a whizz when it comes to fixing up mechanical devices. In the first game we find him unable to finish building his spaceship as he is missing an ignition system.
Moments like this make it clear that Ratchet & Clank isn't your traditional platformer.
I’m pleased to report that graphically this is definitely one of the best HD collections.
Whilst missing some of the fancy effects we have grown accustomed to with the PS3 games, Ratchet & Clank Trilogy is certainly no slouch with bright, varied landscapes and quality character models.
One of the few things that betrays the game’s PS2 roots are the flat ground textures – but to be honest it’s something you might not even notice. It all runs as smooth as silk too, with no frame rate issues cropping up.
Those new to the Ratchet & Clank universe might have seen the word “platformer” at the start of this review and immediately envisaged games such as Mario, but you’re going to be in for quite a surprise. For a start, the games are extremely combat orientated and you can expect to have taken out a whole army of enemies by the end of each game.
The first time you take control of Ratchet his arsenal is fairly underwhelming. His wrench is the main weapon of choice, although it is ridiculously effective and can even be thrown at enemies, boomerang style. It’s the guns that really capture the imagination though, with some fantastically wacky offerings to be found.
From the most basic blaster, to things such as the “Suck Gun” (not as dirty as it sounds), there seem to be no useless weapons throughout the Trilogy, as each one brings something new to the table. Yes, it’s likely you’ll find a favourite, but the games encourage you to experiment as your weapons can only be upgraded by using them a certain amount of times. Trust me, it pays to make sure your weapons are as levelled-up as possible.
It’s this weapon experimentation that provides much of the enjoyment in Ratchet & Clank. Do you use the Decoy Glove to take on that group of enemies, or get in close and go nuts with the Plasma Whip? It’s up to you. You do end up with quite a collection, but thankfully it’s all easy enough to manage from the weapons wheel and there are quick-swaps via the triangle button. Just be aware that there is a very slight delay between switching from the wrench to a gun, so be careful if you’re just charging into battle.
There are some traditional platform elements to be found, but ironically this is where Ratchet & Clank is at its weakest. The jumping isn’t precise enough, and you’ll have to forgive me using this tired old phrase, but the characters lack a good sense of weight. It’s in no way game-breaking (and still occurs in the latest games), but it is worth a mention.
As he’s strapped to Ratchet’s back, Clank can be deployed as an aid to extend jumps, or slow a descent, which adds a nice twist to these platform staples. You’ll even get to control him at points, and as expected he is slower and less agile than Ratchet.
The variety of weapons on offer is certainly a draw for the series.
In terms of characters, it’s interesting how the duo develop over the course of the Trilogy. In the first game Ratchet has been voiced to sound very dude-like – I’m guessing to try and appeal to “da yoof” of 2002 (wait…that was me!). Clank, on the other hand, is actually quite charming in a logical robot type way. My favourite is still Captain Quark though; the big idiot.
In terms of value for money each game is massive, especially for a platformer. Don’t expect to breeze through them in five or six hours. Ratchet & Clank 3 even has offline or online multiplayer, although this couldn’t be tested, as the servers were either empty or just not activated yet. Still, the set-up process was easy enough with an initial creation of an online character taking a couple of minutes, and no online pass was required.
Now, the only real issue with the Trilogy is a bit of an odd one and not even a problem per se. The three games are just incredibly similar. The same mission structure, collectibles – heck, even the same mission loading sequence. There’s a strong feeling of deja vous here so don’t expect to be blown away with innovative new ideas.
- Looks and sounds great.
- A lot to do.
- Brilliant weapons.
- Likeable characters.
- Those looking for innovation as the franchise goes on will be disappointed.
If you’ve played the PS3 Ratchet & Clank games and enjoyed them, then this is one Blu-ray you’ll certainly want to keep an eye out for. The same can be said for franchise newbies, as the games have aged well and are as playable as ever.
Yes, fatigue does set in the further into the Trilogy you get, but it’s hard to argue with a package that represents such good value with three quality games.