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Ratchet and Clank Review

Ratchet and Clank Review

As much as I love them, there’s a risk that remasters can make things a little complicated. In 2016, we have a Ratchet and Clank movie out, titled simply “Ratchet and Clank” which is based on the original game from back in 2002. Alongside this, we also have a new game, with the same title. The game - which is what I am reviewing here in case there was any confusion - is also called “Ratchet and Clank” and is based on the movie of the same name which is in turn based on the game of the same name, but not this one, the other one from the PS2 days. Confused? Yeah, me too.

Ratchet Clank 20160430005223

Welcome back Ratchet.

Naming might be confusing, but gameplay won’t be. If you’ve played any of the previous titles, then you will already be familiar with the mix of platforming and shooting that is the standard formula of the series. Insomniac clearly haven’t seen any reason to change a winning formula and as such have left it as it was. They’ve also left in the ridiculous selection of weapons that the series has become known for. As the series has gone on, the arsenal within has become more bombastic, with weapons like the Groovitron, which fires Disco balls to light up the ground and force enemies to dance, leaving you to pick them off while they’re distracted. This came into the series way after the first game, but it’s here in high-def funky glory. You’ve got classic Ratchet and Clank gameplay but with the weapons from the PS3 games, and a few brand new ones to boot.

It has to be said this this is without a doubt one of the prettiest games that I’ve ever seen on the PS4. It’s locked to 30FPS so bear that in mind if sub-60 framerates are a thing that bother you. I found that it wasn’t quite as smooth as the original games, which is a shame, but it’s very solid and I’ve never had much of a problem with 30FPS games anyway. I didn’t notice any skipping or stuttering at all and I tend to think of that as more important than the absolute framerate. It looks exceptional. All the graphics are in native 1080p and Insomniac have done a sterling job of creating a world to show off this snazzy high-def engine. The vast landscapes of places like Navalis and Veldin look stunning and the main characters themselves are vibrant and beautifully animated. Everything is detailed and full of life so wherever you are, it feels like a real landscape; not just a painted background on which your character happens to be standing. Electrical devices flicker and buzz, foliage sways as you go by and destroyed objects burst into satisfying showers of bolts making jingling sounds all around you. It’s a feast of audio-visual satisfaction throughout.

The game is billed as a “re-imagining” rather than a remake. It follows the same plot loosely, but with a number of subtle differences and the introduction of new characters and events. This is put down to the story being relayed by Captain Quark to a fan. It’s quite a clever way of doing things, meaning that any changes in plotline can be explained away by it being someone else’s point of view. Insomniac have stated that they were approaching this reimagining as if they were creating a new game today, so it does live up to the idea that it’s not just another HD remake. As someone who played and enjoyed the original, I didn’t feel short-changed by the same story.

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Is this not the cutest thing you've ever seen?

It’s often suggested that anything with cartoon-like graphics must be for the younger crowd. It’s one of the criticisms that we see levelled at Nintendo’s first-party efforts a lot. As animation, in particular 3D animation, has matured, we’re starting to see that attitude shift a little. Like the work of Pixar and Dreamworks etc, Ratchet and Clank falls more into the category of “family friendly” than childish. There’s nothing that would warrant an 18 certificate but there’s also no reason that those of us who are thinning on top and remember the good old days can’t find enjoyment from the story line.

Series regular voice actors James Arnold Taylor, David Kaye and Jim Ward have reprised their roles for this game, as they did in the film. This means that the chemistry they have built up over the years is still there. The key test of voice acting for me is do I think of that voice as coming from the character, or do I picture someone reading their lines into a studio mic? I’m pleased to say that as always, the voice action is totally nailed. Each character has a specific feel and personality and the delivery never feels forced or out of place. This is a group of actors who know their characters well and play them perfectly.

As you progress through the game there are lots of hidden secrets to be uncovered. Collecting Gold Bolts gives you access to special sections in the main menu of the game with things such as concept art, trailers and image galleries from the latest and original games. There are also “Holocards” to be collected throughout the game, featuring characters from within. These can be swapped to make sets of three, which gives you a bonus to the bolts and cards collected, or gives you access to the ultra-powerful Omega Weapons.

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Subtitles left in, in case you couldn't work out what Ratchet might be saying here.

You won’t find any new or exciting mechanics here, but I’m not sure if that’s something that’s really needed. Insomniac have had a long time now to perfect the formula of a fun platformer and they have taken everything they’ve learnt over the years and put it into this PS4 rendition. The puzzles along the way feel just right and everything controls fluidly. There’s never any “leap of faith” jumps and you never get killed by an enemy that was just out of shot and you didn’t see it coming. The mark of a well designed platformer is feeling like you could complete the level with “just one more try”. Ratchet and Clank is definitely a “one more try” game both in terms of never feeling like you were cheated and in terms of being hugely addictive.

Overall, Insomniac should be really proud of what they’ve done here. It takes everything that was great about the earlier Ratchet and Clank games and adds a little bit of extra polish and flair. Is it the most original game that I’ve ever played? No. Does it deviate from the regular formula? No. But is it the best game that I’ve played on my PS4? Undoubtedly so. This is an exceptionally good game and if you own a PS4 then you owe it to yourself to get a copy of this.

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Me too Skid, me too.

9.50/10 9½

Ratchet & Clank (2016) (Reviewed on PlayStation 4)

Excellent. Look out for this one.

Ratchet and Clank is the culmination of Insomniac’s vast experience in the field of platformers. It’s not just the best platformer on the PS4, it’s one of the best games on the PS4 full-stop. A game of the year contender in my opinion.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review

Gary "Dombalurina" Sheppard

Staff Writer

Gary maintains his belief that the Amstrad CPC is the greatest system ever and patiently awaits the sequel to "Rockstar ate my Hamster"

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Thomas.Hughes - 11:38pm, 16th May 2016

This is currently game of the year for me.

Acelister - 09:30am, 18th May 2016

I was concerned, but... Hey Square Enix - THIS is how you do a remake. Inject it with a HUGE amount of fun and love.

Friggin' Tomb Raider...