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.
Upgrading your weapons is as addictive as ever. This time around Insomniac have introduced two seperate upgrade systems. Killing enemies with your weapon will allow it to be upgrades 5 times which will increase damage of weapons. You’re also able to collect Raritanium to upgrade your weapon on the upgrade wheel. This allows you to increase things like ammo, fire rate or increased bolt pickups. You’re also able to find mystery upgrades within your upgrade wheel. It sounds extremely confusing but it all makes sense and it really allows you to pick and choose which weapons you want to use and customise your arsenal to suit your gameplay.
Interestingly enough there is another way to receive upgrades in this game. Ratchet and Clank introduces a card collecting game. There are over 30 sets of 3 to collect. Cards can be obtained in random sets of 3 or by defeating certain enemies. Making a set will allow you to upgrade things such as damage by your wrench or increase the amount of bolts that you receive when breaking crates. There are well over 100 cards to collect referencing the entire series so it’ll take a while to collect them all.
The best thing about Ratchet and Clank games have always been the easter eggs that you’re able to unlock by being a completionist. I’m happy to report that this is back, bigger than ever. There are a number of gold bolts to collect which obviously allow you unlock a number of cheats and gameplay variations. All the usual suspects are there as well as a few new ones.
The 2016 iteration Ratchet and Clank is the absolute pinnacle of the franchise. It takes the best elements from the original Ratchet and Clank game, tightens the narrative and adds in some newer mechanics from more recent games in the series. It is genuine fun from start to finish and an absolute steal at the discounted RRP of $54.95.
The PS4 version of Ratchet and Clank was primarily tested for the purpose of this review.