The most important thing to understand about the 2016 iteration of Ratchet and Clank is that it’s essentially a reboot of the franchise which will coincide with a movie that will soon be released in theatres. Both the game and movie essentially follow the same storyline as the original 2002 release but certain parts have been fleshed out and is much tighter narrative overall. It’s clear that Insomniac have gone back and very carefully studied where the original game fell flat and which parts should be fleshed out.
The reimagined story works incredibly well. There is even more humour which now includes one-liners that are relevant to today’s world. Another interesting aspect of the story is that the main events are narrated by none other than Captain Qwark, the infamous antagonist and bumbling villain from the previous games. This provides an interesting new perspective on the original story. The pacing is much improved and I felt like each planet had it’s own unique angles that made visiting them that much more enjoyable.
The visual evolution of the Ratchet and Clank series has been a fascinating one to watch. The PS2 iterations were impressive but incredibly clunky, and the PS3 iterations took physics and the overly stylised graphics to a new level. Ratchet and Clank on the PS4 is immediately breathtaking. The character models have been hugely improved and the lighting adds a sense of realism that I didn’t even think would be possible.
The cutscenes feature scenes from the movie release which feel right at home within this beautiful world. Each planet now has a distinct art style in which you feel the need to explore absolutely every corner of. The amount of scope upon landing on each planet is immediately impressive. There are much more enemies on screen which provide a visual delight. The only downside is that the game can have a drop in frame-rate at times of extreme chaos.In the last 13 years there have been over 14 entries into the Ratchet and Clank series with each game dealing further and further away from the traditional nature of the original trilogy. We’ve seen tower defence & co-op mechanics tacked on and whilst these mechanics have been fun in the short-term, it’s taken away from what made Ratchet special all those years ago.
I’m incredibly happy that this iteration of Ratchet and Clank is a faithful re-imagining of the original game. Whilst everything has been rebuilt from the ground up, Insomniac have perfectly balanced what mechanics they’ve decided to keep in and what to update to be in line with today’s gaming landscape. The majority of the planets and locations are similar but there are several segments mainly surrounding Clank that weren’t in the original game. These work well to break up the shooter portion of the game.
Your arsenal of weapons is what has always made Ratchet and Clank the franchise that it is. In this iteration there is a great mix of existing weapons from the original, series favourite weapons and new inclusions. My favourite in particular was a new weapon that turned enemies into 8-Bit versions which you could smash to bits.
Overall, the gameplay of Ratchet and Clank is nothing revolutionary, but it’s incredibly fun for gamers of any age. I can easily see this being the first game that children play on their parents PS4 and becoming absolutely addicted to it. It’s a wonderful introduction to a younger audience who may struggle to otherwise find appropriate games in the genres Ratchet and Clank cover.