Ratchet & Clank (2016) (Review)

Image result for ratchet and clank ps4

Developer: Insomniac Games
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Format: PlayStation 4
Release Date: April 12, 2016
Copy obtained via GameFly 

Ratchet & Clank is the game based on the movie based on the game.
For those who are scratching their heads (I see you!), Ratchet & Clank was originally released on the PlayStation 2 back in 2002. It quickly became a staple in Sony’s exclusive lineup of games, spawned several sequels across two consoles and a handheld, and now the franchise is receiving its first feature film.The animated film reboots the franchise, with this accompanying game essentially being a remake of the original, albeit one with heavily updated visuals, story elements, weapons and mechanics.

It tells the tale of Ratchet, a Lombax with a heart of gold and a desire to travel the stars and become a Galactic Ranger. When he meets the small (but capable) robot Clank, Ratchet is thrust into a full-scale war to stop the evil Chairman Drek from annihilating the galaxy. The duo’s adventures take you to several planets, introduce you to a wide cast of characters, and (most importantly) delivers one of the most purely fun gaming experiences in years.

Ratchet & Clank is a 3D platformer with a penchant for destruction.
The platforming elements are pretty simple, tasking you with jumping over bottomless pits, pools of lava, and other dangerous obstacles, but there are a few cool elements (such as a grappling hook and a jet pack) that add variety to the formula. There’s also a few segments that include grind rails and magnetic pathways that offer up new ways to traverse the environments. Grind rails have you jumping between different lanes and avoiding obstacles, whereas the magnetic paths having you going upside down and sideways to reach new areas.

There’s also a few puzzle segments, but for the most part they’re extremely basic. Most of these simply require you to line up lasers with different ports, but these can be skipped at the push of a button. There’s also a few segments where you play as Clank and have to command smaller bots to morph into different tools to help you through the level. These puzzles are a little more difficult, and one of them near the end was extremely frustrating for me. However, platforming and puzzles aside, the real hook of the game comes in the form of combat.

Ratchet & Clank has always been a franchise known for its crazy weaponry, and the reboot is no exception. From the basic weapons like a blaster and flamethrower, to the crazy ones like the Groovitron, or the RYNO (Rip You a New One), R&C puts several fun and insane weapons in your hand and gives you countless things to use them on. Some of my favorite weapons include the Pixelizer (which blasts enemies into retro pixels), the Sheepinator (which morphs enemies into harmless sheep), and Mr. Zurkon (a robot guardian who flies around you and shoots at enemies). Your guns level up the more you use them, and you can use a rare ore called Raritanium to upgrade their stats further and unlock additional abilities. This makes it so you always feel a sense of progression in your combat ability.

As far as enemies are concerned, there’s plenty of things to blow up.
Each planet has its own type of enemies, although certain types appear throughout multiple planets. Giant slime blobs, horned toads, aliens, robots, and giant flying brain creatures are all present here, and although they do vary in appearance, I felt like several of the enemies were just re-skins of those I had already fought. I also felt like the game was a little too easy. With the exception of a few segments (mostly boss fights), I rarely found myself dying. Most of the enemies in the game are slow with their attacks, and I found it quite easy to dodge everything thrown at me. Regardless, leveling up your arsenal and unleashing maximum destruction is an absolute blast.

It’s hard to fully remember the original game (it came out 14 years ago), but there were several parts of this game where the memories came flooding back to me. Sure, the story is altered (and uses clips from the movie as cutscenes), and there’s new weapons and an upgrade system that weren’t present in the original, but several of the level layouts started to come back to me. It was a weird sense of deja vu (mixed with a healthy bit of nostalgia), but it was also kind of cool too see old memories resurface. If you’re a returning fan of the series, you’re sure to have these moments too.

Thankfully, the game doesn’t solely play off of nostalgia, and throws in plenty of surprises for fans of the original game. There’s new combat sections where you get to pilot your star ship, collectible cards to find that grant gameplay bonuses, and an unlockable museum full of delight for fans of developer Insomniac. Ratchet & Clank caters to both long-time fans and newcomers, and manages to balance it perfectly.

Also, the game is gorgeous.
Like, really, really gorgeous. Environments pop with color, light and shadow effects are superb, and the texture work is really good too. There’s so many little details that shine through that are testaments to the design team at Insomniac. The way the individual hairs on Ratchet move, the way Clank’s metal reflects sunlight, and all of the gorgeous backdrops that serve as icing on the cake for the different planets. The visual design of this game is absolutely incredible.

FINAL VERDICT

Ratchet & Clank is a delightful experience.
It has a fun cast of characters, multiple worlds to explore, and countless weapons to collect and enemies to destroy them with. The platforming and puzzle segments are competent, but the combat is where the game shines. The biggest draw to Ratchet & Clank is the wide arsenal of weapons and tools and the ability to level them up and unlock new abilities. There’s some crazy guns to play with, and the way they level gives you incentive to try out everything. There’s a few issues with difficulty, but it’s a mostly rock solid game. It’s also one of the best looking games on PS4. If you own the system, this is one well worth adding to your collection.

– Zack Burrows

 

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