Back in the PS2 era, Ratchet and Clank ruled the ever popular third person platformer realm. Since then we’ve seen the genre dissipate among the mainstream, and Sony’s first-party library flourish and expand to the juggernaut it is today. When news started to buzz that a re-imaging of the classic franchise was being developed, many people wondered if it would still hold relevance and value in 2016. Ratchet and Clank not only retains its glory, but it may possibly be one of the best games on the PS4. Coinciding with a theatrical release, new life has bloomed in the world of our two heroes and it’s never felt so good to be back.
Developed by the original masterminds at Insomniac Games, Ratchet and Clank tells the story of two heroes that take on the evil Chairman Drek to save the Solana Galaxy. The game starts with a determined Ratchet chasing his dream to join his idol Captain Qwark and his Galactic Rangers. After being turned down by a jealous Qwark for being too similar to himself, Ratchet’s path collides with an escaped defective warbot, Clank. We find that Clank is seeking the Galactic Rangers to warn of Drek’s vile plan to take over their Galaxy. Together they join forces, prove their worth to Qwark and his team, and have loads of fun blowing stuff up with a ridiculous arsenal.
What makes Ratchet and Clank so solid is that at its core, it’s just a pure joy to play. Whether it’s the nostalgia factor of jumping back into action with these characters, or newcomers to the series, it’s a step into a bright, colorful, funny, adventurous world. The third person platforming mechanics remain to be spot on and play almost like an extension of yourself. I forgot how smooth and responsive Ratchet and Clank games were. It felt like my controller was inviting me in with a warm hug from an old friend. The environments and level design are fantastic reasons to explore your surroundings outside of the main quest. They feel more expansive and interconnected better than ever before. Exploring the beautiful planets while on the hunt for bolts and side missions can often lead you to forgetting the main story missions all together. I was enthralled in the way Ratchet and Clank seems to always keep the player intrigued with its diverse missions and objectives. Whether it’s flying missions, underwater ventures, or even stealth scenarios, you are constantly peeling back new layers of gameplay to enjoy. You’ll find much more on your plate then the simple run, jump, and gun formula. Playing games like this remind you why the PlayStation library is so beloved,
I remember playing the original as a kid and being overwhelmed with all the hilarious cool gadgets and weapons laid before me. That sentiment is still very much intact today. Some of these outlandish pieces of weaponry are awesome. You start off modest with the Combuster, which is kind of like your basic blaster. Then you quickly zoom off into the zaniest of firearms. For example, The Groovitron, it shoots out a disco ball that forces enemies to dance to the music it emits. Or perhaps The Sheepinator(yes, you read that right), which transforms your foes into exploding sheep. It’s absolutely hilarious the first time you do this, the second time, pretty much every time. Bravo, Insomniac. One of my personal favorites is no doubt The Pixelizer. It shoots out a blast that turns enemies into 8 bit, 2D pixelated character, making them brittle so you can plow through them, exploding pixels everywhere. They even added chip tune music to accompany the fallen retro-formed foe. It was a true joy progressing through and feeling the pump of excitement receiving a new weapon, knowing I’d get to experiment with its looney functions.
Just as interesting as your firearm collection, is your gadgets. Ratchet and Clank makes it a point to give purpose to each gadget you obtain, and enhance how you traverse through their adventure. You get to play with things like Grindboots, which allow you to slide around on rails. Magneboots, which give you the gravity-defying power to walk on walls and ceilings. There’s also a Hydropack, Hoverboard, Swingshot, and many more awesome tools at your disposal. What I found really great was how there’s restricted access to certain areas in a level if you didn’t have the proper gear. It gave me curiosity to what treasures awaited me, and instantly made me want to go back and further explore once I retrieved the piece I needed. For $40, you get a lot of bang for your buck in terms of replay value.
Now it’s seems like when anybody is speaking about Ratchet and Clank’s visuals, the general consensus is “Holy *explicit*, that game looks beautiful”. Beautiful indeed. Ratchet and Clank can easily be classified as a new benchmark on the graphical power of the PlayStation 4. There are times when the gameplay and the movie look indistinguishable to each other. The unbelievable dynamic lighting and rich textures seem to dance across the screen. The colors are loud, vibrant and coat the characters and environment elegantly. Turning the camera slighty will catch new angles of lighting, and blanket your view with realistic shadows and hues. When you zoom in on Ratchet, you can actually see each individual Lombax hair gracefully move on his body. This is one to show friends when they come over and say they wanna see what next-gen games look like.
Ratchet and Clank boasts a pretty impressive roster in the voice over department. With the likes of Rosario Dawson, Paul Giamatti , and more, the character dialogue is delivered excellently and with loads of well executed humor. Here’s a notable mention, Ratchet and Clank actually made me chuckle. Not from awkward, cheesy, video game trope humor, but from genuine comedic performances. It’s not just the voice work that steals the shine in the audio department. Ratchet and Clank hammers solid sound design. With the clink and clank of every bolt you collect, to the thunderous blasts of your weaponry. Ratchet and Clank can sound just as powerful as it looks.
Insomniac Games received a healthy amount of criticism when their plans to release Ratchet and Clank was announced. Some thought it was a quick cash grab to help sell the movie, while others felt it had no place with modern gaming. It’s relieving to say we were all wrong. Ratchet and Clank proves that not all remakes are hopeless attempts to relive former glory. Shattering through the stigma, it reinvents itself and shows it’s worth amongst the PlayStation 4 exclusive library. Extremely polished high-end visuals, liquid smooth controls, pristine gameplay, and a humble $40 price tag, should secure Ratchet and Clank into any PS4 owner’s playlist.
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