Platform PlayStation 4 Genre Platformer, Shooter
Publisher Sony Interactive Entertainment Developer Insomniac Games
Ratchet & Clank on PlayStation 4 utilises both the newly released animated film and the original origin story to bring forth a fresh new take on the heroic Lombax Ratchet, and the loyal robot Clank. This is no simple remaster, as this is a complete overhaul of the original adventure utilising all the finer points the franchise has been able to fine-tune over the lengthy series. Ratchet & Clank is an impressive, heartfelt and most importantly, fun adventure that sits as one of my personal favourite gaming experiences of 2016.
Ratchet & Clank begins by introducing Ratchet, a trusty mechanic that has dreams of joining the defenders of the universe, known as the Galactic Rangers. Before long Ratchet meets Clank, a reliable robot that has escaped the hands of the villainous Chairman Drek. Clank has in his possession information on Drek’s plan to destroy the Galactic Rangers and countless planets in the process; which in-turn pushes Ratchet & Clank to work together to save the galaxy. Ratchet & Clank’s plot isn’t ground breaking, but it is an enjoyable and fun story that kept me entertained until the closing credits. Surprisingly Ratchet & Clank also tackles deep themes relating to friendship, loyalty, and selfishness. No character is simply one dimensional, which is something few mascot platformers in this day and age have the strength and courage to tackle. No matter what age, Ratchet and Clank has themes that players will be able to relate and appreciate.
The entire story is narrated by none other than Captain Qwark, leader of the Galactic Rangers. Qwark’s commentary over the 12 hour story is fantastic, which range from small quips as Ratchet is close to running out of air under water to his delivery of vital plot information. Qwark’s narration adds another layer of genuinely funny dialogue to what already is a hilariously written tale. Impressively almost every comedic line is successfully delivered, with comedy that has enough range to entertain younger audiences and adults alike. Ratchet & Clank is also not afraid to poke fun at itself and the ridiculous nature of being a game based on a movie based on the origin story of a past game; breaking the fourth wall in order to make comedic cracks at itself.
Ratchet & Clank has some of the most impressive cut scenes I have ever seen in a game of this nature. While releases such as Uncharted 4 may produce some incredibly realistic cut scenes, Ratchet & Clank delivers Pixar-esque quality scenes that made me forget I was playing a video game time and time again. The one issue I had with these scenes is their jarring and abrupt transitions from cut scene to gameplay. The issue being that scenes usually end abruptly and these scenes refuse to explore certain conflicts or important moments in the story, instead merely brushing them to the side. It’s unfortunate that these scenes don’t focus on the complexities or relationships of the characters as much as they should, instead producing impressive visual cut scenes with little substance.
Following the conclusion of the main story Ratchet & Clank gives players the option to either continue their game before the point of no return, or bring their save over to Challenge Mode. Challenge Mode feels more extensive than other New Game Plus modes. Instead of simply being able to continue levelling up your weapons Challenge Mode allows you to purchase new powerful variations of these weapons to add even more longevity to the process. Challenge Mode also increases the difficulty and introduces a Bolt Multiplier which will continue to produce more bolts as more enemies are slain. If like me, when you finish Ratchet & Clank you will want to jump right back in and Challenge Mode offers a great reason to continue this adventure. The addictive nature of the weapon levelling system and the multitude of upgrades tied to each weapon made it hard to rip myself away from Ratchet & Clank’s brilliant ride.
Insomniac Games are known for creating iconic and unique weaponry and Ratchet & Clank’s return is no different. Weapons do range from your standard pistol and rocket launcher architypes, but Ratchet & Clank’s combat is made that much better due to the iconic and enjoyable weapons on offer. These weapons range from the Sheepinator, a weapon that turns enemies into sheep; the Pixeliser, which will turn enemies into 8-bit pixel variations; or the Groovinator, which will produce a disco ball onto the battlefield that makes enemies irresistible to its dancing charm. My personal favourite is Mr. Zurkon, a robotic enemy that can be summoned to tag along during battles and help take out enemies. Zurkon is no simple additional turret; Zurkon delivers some hilarious one-liners along the way which help add to the personality of combat. This personality can be said for each and every weapon. Each piece of weaponry in this large collection is extremely fun to use, as well as the fact each weapon has unique complexities and behaviours that keep combat constantly refreshing.
Ratchet & Clank encourages experimentation with each piece of its arsenal and addicting levelling system. Weapons will increase in levels as they are used, which made me experiment with many weapons I may have simply ignored; and I’m glad I did. Each time a weapon levels up new upgrades can be unlocked, such as increased ammo reserves, unique abilities and producing more collectables from enemies they destroy. Utilising each weapon in tandem is when combat truly evolves into a uniquely complex feature. Due to the ease of weapon switching I found myself constantly switching between my entire library of weapons to utilise the unique abilities of each weapon. For instance, perhaps I initiate Mr. Zurkon before throwing out a Groovinator allowing for twice the amount of firepower on a group of incapacitated enemies; or better yet turn my enemies into sheep with the Sheepinator while my Doom Glove robots hunt down the remaining targets. That is a mere thin slice of the unique combinations that Ratchet & Clank’s arsenal of iconic weapons allow. Coupled with the fact combat is smooth, responsive and varied throughout the campaign, Ratchet & Clank’s combat produced some of the most enjoyable battles I have experienced in recent memory.
Ratchet & Clank is a gorgeous visual exhibition. Ratchet himself looks incredibly detailed, with each of the individual hairs on his Lombax head able to be seen. The same attention to detail has to be said about the environments themselves. Each planet Ratchet and Clank visit throughout their adventure feels inhabited; this is mainly due to the amount of background activity within each location. One of the main culprits of producing an inhabited world is Aleero City, one of the first locations Ratchet and Clank visit. This bustling metropolis feels lived in, from the range of flying cars scattered throughout the sky. Ratchet & Clank also puts players behind the wheel of Ratchet’s space ship to experience some in-air battles, ranging from the skies above to the void of space itself. These galactic scenes looks stunning, with an abundance of gorgeous colours and unique planets scattered throughout the edges of space.
The chaotic nature of combat is also visually impressive due to the insane amount of activity on screen. As previously stated weapons can be easily switched which means there can be half a dozen different weapon activities happening at once, coupled with unique enemies shooting from all angles, and all the while dozens of bolts flying through the air into Ratchet’s pocket. Throughout these crazy scenarios of chaotic action Ratchet & Clank never skips a beat, providing a powerhouse of visual prowess that runs without a single flaw even during the most action-packed scenarios.
Like any mascot platformer before it, Ratchet & Clank also has its own selection of collectables. Ratchet & Clank veterans will already be aware of the Gold Bolts hidden in each level, but finding these illusive items will also unlock a variety of extras, which include original image galleries, special cheats and different skins. Ratchet & Clank also introduces Holo Cards, a series of collectable cards with a variety of sets to complete. Upon completing each set players will gain bonuses such as increased rate of bolts and Holo Cards earned from enemies, alongside unlocking the upgraded version of each weapon for purchase in Challenge Mode.
Ratchet & Clank on PlayStation 4 is an incredibly fun adventure that will charm old and new fans of the series alike. It combines some gorgeous Pixar-esque visuals, hilarious dialogue and a large selection of memorable weapons.
Despite the kid-like exterior there is an amazing experience that can be enjoyed by all ages, with characters that avoid the one dimensional stereotypes most mascot platforms seem to settle at delivering. Ratchet & Clank also delivers a complex weapon system that keeps combat refreshing throughout the entire adventure and beyond.
Ratchet & Clank is a must own game for any PlayStation 4 owner and it is easily one of my favourite games of 2016. What Ratchet & Clank delivers above all else is a genuinely fun gaming experience, which is a vital reason why this dynamic duo became household names originally; here’s hoping they can reach those heights once more.
- Genuinely funny.
- Enjoyable story for all ages.
- Gorgeous attention to detail visuals.
- Excellent combat due to iconic and unique weapons.
- Abrupt transition from gameplay to cut scene.