I have a confession to make fellow readers: I never played the original Ratchet and Clank’s that came out for the PS2 many many years ago.
Whilst that’s not a massive confession, it does have its reasons. Growing up me and my family were never playstation fans. We had the consoles, but we also had the gamecube and xbox, and as such, never sided with just one console’s exclusive. Given the plethora of different titles we could choose from on all consoles, we missed out on some exclusives from each respective platform.
Regardless of this, having played through Ratchet and Clank on the PS4, I can safely say I’m annoyed I didn’t play this series of games when they were first released.
Being a reboot, most elements are stripped out of the original series and brought into modern sensibilities. The graphics, for example, is absolutely stunning, with the PS4 Pro and 4K TV being an absolutely fantastic combination for playing the game. The story too has had some changes, with a quick google search showing me that whilst the plot is mostly the same, the characters and their key plot points are changed ever so slightly to align with the recently released Ratchet and Clank film.
One of the first things that caught me off guard whilst playing the main campaign was how hooked I became whilst playing the story. I’m not usually into platformers, as I feel they can get repetitive and easy far too fast. Not so with Ratchet and Clank, where I was playing the game all day everyday until I eventually finished the campaign and started the “New Game +” mode, at around 13-14 hours. There’s just something about the RPG-lite gameplay of the game that lends itself well to also being a platformer, meaning that I kept re-visiting already completed planets just to make sure I got everything that was available, and finished every objective.
The story is charming and all told from the point of view of Captain Quark, the once head of the Galactic Rangers, which is now in prison due to what happened throughout the course of the campaign. This method of story telling results in some rather humorous scenes, especially when Ratchet and Clank do something the captain wasn’t expecting, resulting in some fourth-wall breaking moments. There’s not really any character development to speak of, but when the gameplay is so addictive and fun to play, there’s no reason to want a better story.
Playing through ratchet and Clank is equal parts third person shooter, third person platformer and beat-um up. You control Ratchet, who has clank on his back (most of the time) and proceed to jump around the environment defeating enemies either with your melee weapon (a crank) or your myriad of crazy and awesome weapons gained throughout the course of the campaign.
This combination of gameplay is fantastic in action, and makes for a challenging and varied experience. I found myself dying quite often, even on medium difficulty, rethinking my strategy on how to take down a new crowd of enemies with different combinations of weapons or even new ways of attacking. Then there’s sections of levels which are entirely dedicated to platforming, meaning you’ll need to jump at the right time or find the right route in order to get a piece of treasure at the end. It’s fun, and always kept me on my toes, resulting in an enjoyable time throughout my playthrough.
Each weapon you acquire is both entertaining to use, and also upgradable, resulting in many quirky and awesome side-effects. The pixelator for example is pretty nifty, and once fired, results in enemies becoming their old PS2 models whilst also being pixelated. The boogie ball was also fun and hilarious: shoot it into a field of enemies and laugh as they all stop fighting you to take part in dancing around the ball. It’s fun, and actually made me invest in my weapons a great deal, so much so that I ended up finding every collectible in the game in order to upgrade them.
The collectables throughout the stages are fantastic, and help to keep you involved in the game. 28 Gold studs are hidden throughout the whole campaign, with each one unlocking new cheats, or even aesthetic changes to be used. These rewards for exploration may seem trivial, but when they help in speeding up or slowing down the game they become extremely useful. Then there’s the trading cards you can collect from hidden spots on maps or by killing so many of a certain enemy. Each set that’s collected give’s buffs in the game, for example giving me +100% damage when meleeing enemies, certainly a great buff I’m sure you’ll agree. It meant that everything to collect contributed to the enjoyment of the game, meaning nothing ever felt meaningless or without warrant. I know I certainly enjoyed it so much that I proceeded to collect everything Ratchet and Clank had to offer.
The only thing that could be seen as a bad thing about Ratchet and Clank is the rate at which you obtain studs throughout the world. These studs are used as currency within each level, allowing you to buy ammunition, or even new weapons. Trouble was, studs come out of every enemy you defeat and every obstacle you destroy, meaning throughout the course of the game I had so many that I never had to worry.
So overall, I’m glad Ratchet and Clank was remade. This story, as well as graphical fidelity, harkens back to a by-gone era, one where the point of a game was to have fun and nothing else. With the increased visual fidelity (thanks to the PS4 Pro) and updated gameplay, I can certainly say that Ratchet and Clank is one of the best PS4 exclusives I’ve played since it’s release, and one that you owe yourself to own should you have a PS4.
N.B. Ratchet and Clank is one of the first games I’ve played that’s truly a 4K HDR title, and my god does it shine. The colours, and aesthetics throughout are so slick and gorgeous that you could be forgiven for thinking you were watching a movie. 4K HDR games are really going to ensure artists’ work is shown how it was originally intended, making for an exciting and enticing future in Video games, especially for ones that don’t strive for realism, and have a art direction that takes advantage of every pixel on screen.