It’s likely already been mentioned in a previous blog post, but Ratchet and Clank is my favourite videogame series of all time. I may have wept with joy last year when a current gen version was released and here’s a little game review I wrote for it.
Ratchet and Clank are back; this time to gracing us with their first outing to current gen consoles and their return to the gaming scene doesn’t disappoint.
This latest Ratchet and Clank isn’t Insomniac giving us a simple remake, remaster or retelling, but a blurry mix between all three. The game is based on the movie of the same name, which is based on the original game. Don’t worry if this sounds like a confusing concept, just play the damn thing and enjoy the roller coaster ride you’re in for.
You play largely as Ratchet, alongside Clank, who, with the help of the Galactic Rangers, must put an end to Chairmen Drek’s dastardly plan to destroy planets to construct a new home world for his fellow Blarg. Longtime fans of the series, and considering the original game came out waaaaaaaaay back in 2002 you’ve earnt the right to call yourself that, will notice the similarities and differences.
Every planet you visit featured in the original game, and now the enemies, the environments, even the damn sky, looks sexier than Captain Quark posing as Black Widow; that’s not hard, but the point is the game is gorgeous! Longtime fans will feel immediately at home with where the game sends them, yet at the same time will get a kick out of new areas and objectives too (most notable the side quest to collect Telepathopus brains being a personal highlight). If you’re a newbie to the series, then I’m jealous of the thrill you’ll get from entering this masterfully crafted universe for the first time.
Colourful characters have always been part of the Ratchet and Clank series and familiar faces return, alongside new cast members too. It wouldn’t be a Ratchet and Clank game without the two title heroes and the furry Lombax and his mechanical chum quickly build on their strong relationship that fans have grown to love. The bumbling idiot Captain Quark has a big role to play in the story too; whilst awkward geek Big Al is always at hand to provide upgrades for our heroes.
Alongside these fan favourites come newbies Brax and Cora Veralux, two Galactic Rangers who aid Ratchet and Clank in saving the day. There’s also the inclusion of Grim, who owns the workshop Ratchet works in that we first saw in the original game yet were never given much backstory to, and his brother Felton who, it transpires, is the owner of Pokitaru resort that also returns from the original game. Adding in these new characters helps flesh out the relationships and plot between all the characters in the game and builds in backstory to parts of the original game that seemed to fit in the R&C story but weren’t really given reason as to how they came to be.
Chairmen Drek returns as the primary antagonist, with his murderous lieutenant Victor Von Ion in tow; interestingly Dr Nefarious (pre-cyborg days at this point for those played the originals) also has a large role to play in the plot and again this is where Insomniac have cleverly weaved in elements of the original games without seeming to have simply bolted them on. Case in point is how Dr Nefarious is now the mastermind behind many weapons and gadgets in the R&C universe.
Gameplay and aesthetically the game is more akin to the most recent R&C games which means slick controls and eye-poppingly beautiful visuals, I sat for 5 minutes holding the trigger with the Sheepinator equipped because the rainbow stream of energy it shoots out is just too gorgeous not to gawp at. Several cutscenes from the film also feature in the game too and show the Solana galaxy and all its beauty. The audio also transports you into the far reaches of space and nostalgia lane too, many sounds being brought back from across previous games, the sound of a Swingshot still made me tingle just as much as it did over a decade ago.
Crazy weapons are also a staple of the R&C games and your arsenal comes packing heat from many of the previous titles. In a pleasing bit of fan service, the player can now collect, or have enemies drop, Holo-cards which can be collected to make sets and unlock bonuses to your character and dropped Raritanium can help you boost the stats of your weapons at a Gadgetron vendor. You’ll also need to complete these Holo-card sets to unlock the omega version of weapons of guns in challenge mode as well as the RYNO super weapon. Each Holo-card has a unique weapon, character or location on it that relates to an aspect of previous R&C game and collecting them all can give you an insight in to the rich history of Ratchet and Clank and you can see some of the weapons that didn’t make the final cut. Also don’t forget to collect all those Gold Bolts too for extra bonuses!
All in all, whether you’re a longtime fan or have yet to play a Ratchet and Clank title, this entry feels like a worthy candidate in how to bring back a classic game series for new and old fans alike; Insomniac showing us that a humourous platformer with great set pieces, stunning visuals, fluid gameplay and charming characters still hold a place in gamers hearts.
Scores on the virtual doors for Ratchet and Clank?
8/10- This truly charming game fills out both tasks of fan service to those who’ve been around since the start, whilst updating the game to a more modern or uninitiated audience. Whether you’re new to the series or a returning veteran, Ratchet and Clank’s latest outing is truly worth diving in to.