Ratchet and Clank – Review

Ratchet and Clank have rocketed back onto consoles accompanied by an animated movie. The 2016 Ratchet and Clank game is a full remake of the 2002 Playstation 2 game. The main story is essentially the same, but the rest is millions of light years away from the original.

Nostalgia will come into play here. As a long time fan of the Ratchet and Clank series, I’ve played almost every game since their explosive first instalment. I know that they are radically different games, but 2016’s Ratchet and Clank plays exactly how I remember the original playing. I mean obviously that isn’t true, but Insomniac have done an amazing job of transporting me back 14 years and yet making use of modern game design. That isn’t to say this re-imagining of Ratchet and Clank is a perfect iteration as unfortunately do have some gripes.

The combat in Ratchet and Clank is brilliant. There are literally explosions everywhere. The game provides a constant stream of new, funny and insanely powerful weapons. As you use each weapon they gain levels and Raritanium (found just by killing stuff generally) is used to unlock them to their deadly potential. Once a weapon reaches level 5 is transformed into a hyper powerful version of itself and in challenge mode can gain an extra 5 levels again. Running around with homing missiles and quickly switching to the Pixelizer (blasting enemies into pixelated versions of themselves) for close combat is amazing. And Ratchet and Clank looks so effortlessly beautiful that you love every minute as it transports you across the galaxy.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that Ratchet and Clank is hands down the best looking game I have ever played on my Playstation 4 and maybe ever. The wonderfully rendered cartoony world perfectly matches the Ratchet and Clanks games from my childhood and the more recently Playstation 3 instalments. Whether you are running, shooting, swimming, flyer or hover boarding – Ratchet and Clank never misses a beat.

Until this point, Ratchet and Clank can do no evil, but this where that unfortunately ends. Retelling the story of the original is an excellent idea with some areas fleshed out and reimagined, but others have been left feel a bit antiquated. Things that were barely relevant in 2002 have been transported to directly into 2016 where they feel even more out of place. And yes, one of the characters I’m talking about is Skid McMarx who is the ‘stereotypical skater/surfer’. He feels very out of tune with the present day and plays a role we have all seen hundreds of time.

Speaking of the game’s characters, I don’t think the re-imagined version of Dr Nefarious is very good. In 2016 he is just a mad scientist and frankly quite boring. Back in the day, he was a crazy robot with a brain that would constantly start to fall apart. He was funny and the old version remains one of my favourite video game characters of all time. In 2016’s Ratchet and Clank, he simply plays the role of scientist villain. Which is extremely disappointing.

And that brings us to Ratchet and Clanks true failing. Many of the characters don’t have the same soul as previous games. Ratchet and Clank themselves feel too ‘buddy buddy’ from the moment they meet and Clank even seems to have lost his cheeky laugh. But thank goodness for Captain Qwark – his narration is brilliant. I’m not sure if it’s because the game is telling the same story as the film, but the characters lack a lot of the nuance and humour of previous games and it’s such a shame. Ratchet and Clank seems to have tried to become more ‘main stream’ and by doing so lost a lot of its quirky and niche humour. There is a small spark of that remaining, but not as much as in past games. I feel I could blame some of this on there being a tie-in film, but that can hardly be the root of all evil here.

Obviously, though, Ratchet and Clank is still a wonder experience. It’s cheaper than a standard release but doesn’t feel like anything less than a full game. The shooting, jumping and explosions all feel amazing. It’s a shame that the lack of characterisation lets down and otherwise fantastic addition to an amazingly long standing franchise.

This article was originally published on http://www.gamertime.co.uk but unfortunately, that site no longer exists, so I’ve republished it here.

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