Ratchet & Clank (PlayStation 4) Review

By Gareth F 23.04.2016 4

Review for Ratchet & Clank on PlayStation 4

While Sony has been busy trolling the gaming community by dropping subtle hints alluding to the possible existence of a long absent Crash Bandicoot title, nobody should forget about another pair of action-platforming heroes under its employ - ones that do actually have a game out to promote. Yes, Ratchet & Clank is back and, courtesy of long-time series custodians Insomniac, the duo has finally made its debut on the PS4 in a game based on a movie, based on a game. In itself, this is quite the rare occurrence in gaming and hasn't been seen since … well, that Street Fighter movie and everyone remembers how that panned out. Fear not, though, as Insomniac isn't about tarnishing all the great work it's done on the series up until this point, nor is it in the business of knocking out cheap movie cash-ins. Cubed3 gets re-acquainted with a pair of old friends and helps put the universe to rights in the process.

The technology and costs involved in videogame development have grown exponentially in the fourteen years since the original Ratchet & Clank first made an appearance on the PlayStation 2, and with the industry's aversion to longevity, nobody could have predicted back then that these two intergalactic scamps would still be planet-hopping and delighting gamers of all ages now. While there have been numerous follow-ups and spin-offs over the years, it's an endearing franchise that has now seemingly gone full circle given that this entry, once again, chronicles the tale of how these two iconic characters first met up via a timely revisit to the first chapter in the story.

Insomniac has thrown all its cards onto the table with this remake, so while certain sections will likely resonate with some of the more grizzled gaming veterans that enjoyed it the first time around, there are many new features unique to this version, further supplemented by elements that appeared in subsequent chapters in the series that all mesh together to give this ageing classic a contemporary, modern update.

Screenshot for Ratchet & Clank on PlayStation 4

This sci-fi opus starts off in an intergalactic penitentiary - more specifically, the prison cell of Captain Qwark, a heroic Ranger and one time inspiration to lowly, Lombax mechanic, Ratchet. After being lumbered with a new cell mate eager to hear his tales of courageous deeds, Qwark is inadvertently set up as the narrator of this tale, popping back intermittently to detail certain key moments as the story unfolds. Ratchet's aspirations of becoming a Ranger are thwarted very early on, despite excelling in the aptitude tests which, as anybody familiar with how popular movies/videogames operate, is the classic setup for a hapless, unassuming hero role.

Rejected and dejected, eternal dreamer Ratchet doesn't let it get him down too much and resumes his life as a mechanic, blissfully unaware on how his world is about to change. Meanwhile, across the universe, a certain Chairman Drek nominates himself as the villain of the piece by drawing up a plan that involves forcibly taking all the best bits from the surrounding planets in the system to make a new one for his fellow Blarg citizens, currently residing on a heavily polluted planet unfit for habitation. Production of an army of large, dangerous War-bots begins with the express intent of executing Drek's nefarious plans. However, a manufacturing error produces Clank, a diminutive little droid, unfit for warmongering, and very conspicuous when stood next to his heavily armoured brethren.

Screenshot for Ratchet & Clank on PlayStation 4

After narrowly escaping being recycled, Clank hijacks a spaceship and manages to escape with Drek's interplanetary pilfering masterplan firmly burnt into his circuit boards. In scenes that that seem eerily reminiscent of the original Star Wars movie - *cough*Luke and R2D2*cough* - Clank's ship eventually crash lands on an alien planet and, as luck would have it, the pint-sized robot gets pulled out of the wreckage by Ratchet himself, who had spotted the vessel's fiery descent, while no doubt contemplating mechanical stuff. Once Ratchet hears about Drek's intentions from Clank, the pair teams up to put a stop to his scheming, and in doing so become the unlikeliest pair of heroes.

Ratchet & Clank makes a great first impression, as it's hard not to be wowed by the sheer beauty of the vibrant, colourful universe Insomniac has created here. Each world visited during the course of the campaign sports some truly outstanding vistas, exotic and rich in detail, bustling with activity and populated by all manner of wild and wonderful denizens. The character design and animation is up to Pixar standards, brimming with personality and the closest yet that the PS4 has come to having a fully interactive cartoon. What's particularly impressive is that no matter how frenetic the action gets, no matter how many lighting and particle effects are firing up on screen, it maintains a rock solid frame-rate throughout proceedings, without ever missing a beat.

Screenshot for Ratchet & Clank on PlayStation 4

Despite each planet being relatively linear in layout, the presence of optional objectives allows a certain degree of flexibility when deciding the order in which to tackle missions. Revisiting past destinations to spend a bit more time exploring for hidden areas, or tackling optional quests, is as simple as hopping onto the ship and setting the flight computer. While it's primarily an action-platformer, there's enough variety in the gameplay to keep it fresh and interesting throughout, which might translate to one stage seeing Ratchet pilot a ship in a sky filled with enemy targets, while another might involve grinding rails on a hoverboard in the style of Sunset Overdrive. The nuts and bolts dropped by vanquished enemies are magnetically collected by Clank and double up as the in-game currency. This can be spent on some crazy and wonderfully inventive gadgets and weaponry that will gradually level up and become noticeably more powerful with increased usage.

Engaging with one of the many Gadgetron vendors scattered about the universe also allows for further weapon modifications to be performed, enhancing factors such as area of effect, duration, impact damage, rate of fire, and even the amount of bonus bolts dropped by fallen enemies. Holocard packs filled with random content is a neat way of implementing a collectible system that actually rewards the player by providing perks that assist in the main game whenever a full set of three is attained. The ability to trade duplicates for gaps in the collection is a particularly nice nod back to the Panini era of sticker book collecting. Got ... got ... got ... NEED!

Screenshot for Ratchet & Clank on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

It's easy to see why Insomniac is held in such high regard when it consistently delivers experiences as well polished and enjoyable as Ratchet & Clank. Everything, ranging from the gorgeous visuals to the excellent voice acting, the well-paced story, and the immaculate musical score, contribute to a timeless package well worth its surprisingly low entrance fee. Ratchet & Clank pays loving homage to its roots by enjoying the kind of lavish remix that only fourteen years of gaming evolution can bring to the table and, by doing so, has created a universe well worth saving.

Developer

Insomniac

Publisher

SCEE

Genre

3D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

I loved the original of this so much, along with Jak & Daxter, and Sly Cooper. Fantastic memories! Glad to see it's back with a bang!

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

One of the first games I'll be getting when we get a PS4. I've never played Rachet and Clink before, so this seems like the best version to get into it.

I'd be quite happy buying a lot of these much older reissues if as much time and care was spent in upgrading them as Insomniac has clearly done here with this (take note Capcom)

I can also see how it would make a decent movie. Surprised it hasn't happened before now tbh

I got the game a week ago, I'm inundated with new games at the moment- but this stands out so much. It really does restore faith in the idea there's mileage yet in more traditional platforming games. Hope this isn't the only platformer reboot we see on PS4! 

Tom Barry [ Reviewer - Editor - Resident Sim-Racer @ Cubed3.com ]
RufDog Racing: Team Cubed3 | Current C3 Sim-Spotlight Feature | Follow RDR on Twitter |     

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