Ratchet & Clank Trilogy Review
The newly HD-spruced Ratchet & Clank trilogy acts as a quaint reminder that there aren’t many developers out there that provide simple gaming thrills quite like Insomniac Games.
A mismatched pairing by anyone’s standards, Ratchet – a cat-like space mechanic – and Clank – a pint-size robot – are thrust together in the first instance as an alien race of Blarg’s threaten to destroy various planets across the universe.
The two soon form an inseparable bond; utilising Clank’s strength and spanner swing with Ratchet’s unique toybox of gadgetry.
With this partnership firmly in place, the emphasis is placed on exploration, acquisition and, without a fraction of a doubt, high-impact weaponry.
Fans of Insomniac’s first-person shooter series Resistance will be accustomed to Insomniac’s inventive tools of destruction and it’s in Ratchet & Clank that it set the precedent.
You can suck enemies into black holes, blow them up with a series of explosive firearms and transform them into bleating sheep at a whim. It’s an exquisite arsenal that remains consistently charming and compelling throughout the collection.
The alien planets have never looked better in 1080p. Shame the FMV cutscenes drop the resolution noticeably.
The numerous weapon unlocks continually galvanises players through the three campaigns, ensuring that familiar battle scenarios refrain from repetitiveness. It’s testament to Insomniac’s ingenuity that ten years on this formula remains as addictive as ever.
As the trilogy continues, the game ventures to new planets and ups the stakes significantly. Ratchet & Clank 2 has the duo on the trail of an artificial creature that could spread disaster across the galaxy, while the third instalment returns to another menacing antagonist hell-bent on destruction in Dr Nefarious.
The arsenal expands, missions become more dynamic – with hoverbike races and space battles a highlight – but each instalment adheres to the fundamental template established in the original.
Each game is composed of numerous planets to explore, with a few objectives that can be undertaken freely. Yet, the missions themselves feel somewhat secondary to the habitual hoovering of bolts
As the in-game currency for purchasing weapon and gadget upgrades, making your wallet fat with bolts becomes a rampant, uncontrollable thirst.
When such delightful detail has been implemented into the wondrous weaponry, harvesting bolts quickly becomes the driving force behind the action.
The two sequels ramp up the action quite impressively from their progenitor.
While the first game firmly establishes this template, it’s also the weakest of the three games. Aside from the lack of challenge (you can easily coast through the first five-or-so hours), the controls are decidedly clunky and it’s sorely lacking the variety of the two sequels.
The evolution between the three titles is clearly visible, introducing weapon upgrades, smoothing out controls and enlivening combat with a greater challenge and a larger scale.
There’s an impressive amount of variety in the visuals across the trilogy as well. Venturing to a multitude of distinct alien planets, it’s hard not to be enamoured by the consistently vibrant, colourful, and cartoonish nature of the aesthetics, enhancing the tone of the series’ carefree wit.
This inimitable art direction skirts any qualms you may have about the game looking outdated on PS3. The three games really come to life in 1080p, enhancing every aspect of the design to a startling degree.
Shame then that there is a notable blip when it comes to the FMV cutscenes. The game flips from 16:9 to the original 4:3, which, while immediately jarring, also drops the resolution noticeably. It’s a bum note on an otherwise seamless presentation.
Ultimately, it’s a sterling collection of classic games from the PS2 era, buffed to an immaculate HD sheen. It has the tendency to feel a bit samey in places, but there’s rarely been a platformer with such warmth and compelling depth.
It’s also a great opportunity to watch how the relationship between Ratchet and Clank evolves through the first three games in the continuing series.
Clearly they are not the most memorable pairing in videogame history, but we’d be hard pressed thinking of another that inspire this much excitement and giddy enthusiasm. Time to go hoovering some bolts!