The PS2 era is still kicking on the PS4!
Throughout the annuls of time in video game history their have been many iconic duos; Mario and Luigi, Sonic and Tails, Sam and Max, Banjo and Kazooie and Jak and Daxter just to name a few! But along with them comes a creation I feel doesn’t get enough credit, the space trekking, alien annihilating duo of Ratchet and Clank. Since 2002 the Ratchet and Clank series has seen a steady release schedule of solid platforming gaming featuring such titles as Full Frontal Assault and Up Your Arsenal (lol) so with the franchises first release on the Playstation 4 and after 11 titles under it’s belt the time was right to grab a blank canvas and start again with 2016’s Ratchet and Clank.
A reimagining of the first game Ratchet and Clank 2016 serves as an origin story (How Ratchet met Clank, if you will) told through the perspective of familiar anti hero and all around goof Captain Qwark, who also provides some comical voice over work throughout the game reminiscent of the Stanley Parable. Through this medium we meet Ratchet, a Lombax (some weird bobcat thing, I don’t know?) working as a mechanic on his adopted planet Veldin hoping someday to become a member of the Galactic Rangers with his attempt falling short when the opportunity arises. Elsewhere Clank, a tiny defective ‘Warbot’ with heightened intelligence and a certain wit and levelheadedness about him is made on a production line and escapes being destroyed but not before hearing villain Chairman Dreks evil plot of planetary destruction and galactic domination. Crash landing on Ratchet’s planet (because, PLOT PROGRESSION!) explaining that the galaxy is in severe peril and he must get to the Galactic Rangers’ HQ on the Planet Kerwan they Jet off in Ratchet’s ship where the adventure begins.
Ratchet and Clank’s gameplay doesn’t really push any boundaries, it’s very much white bread, equip your weapon, blow the bad guys to smithereens, collect the bolts they explode into and exchange them to expand your arsenal and upgrade what you already have in your inventory but that is absolutely fine the formula definitely works for this particular game with the unique, one of a kind assemblage on weaponry. From standard space rays to disco balls you fire out into the battlefield that distracts your foes through the power of disco music, to a gun that turns your enemy into 8 bit pixels! My personal favourite is Mr Zurkon, a pocket sized killer robot with a serious thirst for blood that helps you during fights with a hilarious variety of one liners. Beautifully fluid movement and a well thought out, responsive control scheme makes traversing alien planets and platorming cliffs and ledges an absolute joy in Ratchet and Clank with each new environment offering a new challenge, the sewer section in particular provides a delightfully infuriating challenge and may cause you to rage quit (have back up controllers) we all role our eyes at under water levels but trust me it isn’t as long or as frustrating as say the water temple in Ocarina of Time but still provides a reasonable difficulty, but that’s what us gamers want, a difficulty curve that can be overcome before you eventually stop playing. When you find yourself in the midst of battle in the early sections there is little method or planning involved. Pick your weapon, mash the buttons and witness the carnage that ensues! It’s not until later in your adventure where enemies become stronger and bosses become trickier where you have to take a step back and look at your environment and deduct what your most effective weapon for every skirmish is. Sections where you play as Clank provide a welcome change in momentum, switching to puzzle based gameplay and getting the gears in your head a damn good workout.
Ratchet and Clank provides you with a few side quests but none of which provide much of a challenge and can be quite linear with the hovercraft racing giving you only three race tracks with a minuscule difficulty spike and to be honest I only used it to rack up currency for upgrades. Throughout your quest however you are tasked to collect ‘holocards’ which are scattered through the numerous planets in order to claim the game’s most powerful weapon the RYNO (short for Rip Ya a New One) but the detour is definitely worth it just to let that baby loose on poor, unsuspecting grunts and seeing the display of groin grabbingly satisfying annihilation you created! All to Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture that is what dreams are made of people!
BUT WAIT! There’s more! Ratchet and Clank has so much outer beauty as well. It. Is. Gorgeous! Every location, every character, every explosion, implosion and everything in between looks utterly jaw dropping the developers at Insomniac Games truly outdid themselves and pushed themselves to the technological limit here. Surroundings are expertly rendered, cutscenes are Pixar quality and the emotion and expressions on the cast of characters is executed really well, paired with the enthusiasm and professionalism of the voice over cast it’s a unprecedented double win for anyone that picks this game up and loads it into their PS4. One part comes to mind where you are playing as Clank and you are out in the endless vacuum of space it very nearly brought a tear to my eye it looked that good.
Ratchet and Clank’s PS4 debut is a fulfilling experience and just goes to show that light hearted humour and craftsmanship is still alive and well in the world of video games. It’s weaponry is paradigm breaking, it’s presentation is first rate and the franchise as a whole isn’t like most shoot em up’s and may have cemented itself as the best of the series. In an over utilised and over saturated market it’ll go down as one of the better reboots alongside Tomb Raider and Doom but with very little change to the look and feel of the game itself unlike the two titles I just mentioned. I strongly recommend you pick up this game….I’ll wait………….back? COOL! GET PLAYING!