I recall to a certain degree of fondness over my not so dearly missed school days, which involved a lot of anthropomorphised animals like Scooby Doo (that went off the cliff with the remake), Winnie the Pooh (again off the cliff) and Stitch (you can see a trend). So when I heard the news, I thought “Ratchet and Clank reboot?” I had my concerns, and with videogames as a market going into a state of sequels and re-imaginings - ala Mirror’s Edge and Final Fantasy VII - I grew rather worrisome. Fast forward to a weekend binge on Ratchet and Clank (2016), whilst it didn’t disappoint, it felt like it didn’t fully learn from the previous trilogy of installments.
That’s not to say the game wasn’t great, have a look at the review (Link). But parts stuck out, after replaying Ratchet and Clank, (R&C) Locked and Loaded and 3 recently, which made the 2016 rendition feel more like 1.75 in terms of series progression rather than having learnt from all of the original trilogy. That’s not to say there aren’t series improvements, take the Trespasser; its puzzles/mini-games played like a well oiled machine when you compare it Electrolyzer and Hacker - Hacker being the most annoying with it’s slow pace breaking the flow of the game.
The thing plays like a God-send when you compare it to Locked and Loaded with the controls feeling sluggish moreso than 3. And containing weapons from other R&C titles, the combat felt as ludicrous as before. But therein lies the issue: whilst the collectable part of the game rewards the player and isn’t vital to the game’s progression, the reliance on making weapons more useful later using raritanium becomes rather dull and lackluster - effectively making the bombastic nature feeling slightly cut back in tone. Although the removal of skill points in place of finding rare bolts to unlock secrets is up to player preference, it definitely makes the process of 100% completing the game a lot easier.
Love it or hate it, I found the spaceship combat to be one of the most enjoyable parts of Locked and Loaded and R&C (2016) doesn’t improve, with the controls feeling clunky in a relatively tight and enclosed space. Whilst the space combat wasn’t exhilarating, at times it felt like hitting your head against a brick wall in order to overcome it.
The main issue I had with the game though is that it’s not Ratchet and Clank enough! It’s a great game, but there are caveats that doesn’t make it a full R&C experience: It loses its sense of scale. One thing I hoped for when jumping back into the series - other than the weapons - was the combat arenas like “Galactic Gladiators” and “Annihilation Nation”. Facing the B2 Brawler and Chainblade in Locked and Loaded was exciting and gave the player more content and challenge after the story. Another thing I enjoyed was the ability to grind/play the core gameplay loop with my personal favourite weapon, the Sheepinator - a welcome return in my personal opinion.
But is there any room for a sequel of the R&C experience again? Without a doubt there’s a market for it, with the majority of games being more designed towards the older demographic, it’s a family friendly game where the R&C humor works for both the young and old. I found myself smirking/laughing with its delivery of comedy and narrative. Whilst not being as obtuse as Locked and Loaded and 3 for the most part, it shows how much they refined their craft at Insomniac Games. I would rail at the game for not reaching my potentially unreachable nostalgic expectations, from returning after school to play it non-stop until dinner time. This is a game series that, like cheese, has made its mark and matured over time, developing its consistency to an exact formula that reaches to all generations, regardless of age for both its simplicity and difficulty in level and world design.
If this is the sign of great things to come, I can’t wait, because revisiting R&C Locked and Loaded and 3 just made me want to see what’s in store for the franchise. And if they continue on the this road, I can only see amazing things that will continue to spawn from the series’ reboot - but seriously don’t shove Qwark Vid comics down my throat, I’d rather use a Personal Hygienator.