Fourteen years after the release of the original game, the new “Ratchet and Clank” PS4 reboot proves that PS2-era platformers still have a place in modern gaming through sharp game-play, clever writing and beautiful graphics.
Ratchet is a small furry creature called a Lombax who works as a spaceship mechanic and dreams of joining the Galactic Rangers, a group of heroes led by a highly egocentric man named Captain Quark. Ratchet is eventually joined by a small defect robot named Clank, who tells Ratchet that he needs to find the Galactic Rangers in order to warn them about an evil plan from a character called Chairman Drek. Seeing this as an opportunity, Ratchet agrees to join him.
“Ratchet and Clank” isn’t a direct remake of the original 2002 game. Instead, developer Insomniac Games told a similar story to the original while also creating new locations and game-play mechanics to coincide with the familiar elements of previous “Ratchet and Clank” games. This update gave Insomniac the ability to tweak the game to fit modern expectations and utilize the power of the PS4.
The cartoon-like art style of “Ratchet and Clank” is truly stunning, and it’s the first game that made me feel like I was walking around in a Pixar movie. The bright colors and incredible detail put into each different level make it arguably the best-looking game on the PS4 so far. Also, because the game uses some scenes and assets from the recently released movie, the cut-scenes in “Ratchet and Clank” actually look like a movie with high-quality animation.
Accompanying the game’s awesome visuals is legitimately funny writing. With clever and subtle jokes that even included a few fourth-wall breaks, “Ratchet and Clank” had me actually laughing out loud. This level of humor is a unique accomplishment for a game. James Arnold Taylor did a great job reprising his role as Ratchet, and the dialogue between Ratchet, Clank, Quark and the other characters helped add a layer of tremendous charm to the game’s story.
In my opinion, the best part about “Ratchet and Clank” is that it’s simply a fun game to play. In a time when so many games take themselves too seriously, a goofy game like “Ratchet and Clank” that focuses on creating a fun experience rather than making a deep political or emotional statement is highly refreshing.
At the center of this fun experience is the wide range of weapon options that the game offers. When in combat, Ratchet can choose from a wheel of different guns and gadgets to use against his alien and robot enemies. With everything from a rocket launcher to a gun that turns enemies into pixels, this game does a great job of creating a variety of weapon choices for every scenario.
The progression system in “Ratchet and Clank” was also immensely satisfying. Each weapon has its own simple but expansive upgrade system and I quickly became addicted to leveling up every gun to see what new abilities would be added to them. As someone who generally sticks with a handful of weapons, the fact that there wasn’t a single gun I neglected shows the impressive nature of the weapon library and progression system in this game.
Another area where “Ratchet and Clank” truly excelled was pacing. Just when the third-person shooter parts of the game hint at becoming repetitive, the player is moved to a section where they control Clank and solve a puzzle. Because of the alternation between shooting, platforming and puzzle solving, “Ratchet and Clank” kept my interest and never felt dull or repetitive.
“Ratchet and Clank” also has plenty of optional side quests and activities such as racing on a hover board or finding hidden collectibles that serve as a fun excuse to extend play time. However, if you complete the primary objectives on a world and try to return later for some of the collectibles or other side areas, what you find is a little disappointing. Aside from a few easy enemies here or there, the planets that were crawling with foes the first time through are mostly empty upon a second visit. This significantly brought down my motivation to revisit planets. In a world as beautiful and fun as the one in “Ratchet and Clank,” this was a bit of a let-down.
Overall, “Ratchet and Clank” is an extremely fun experience that fans of the previous games and newcomers alike can enjoy. With a well-designed game-play system, beautiful environments and a charming, lighthearted story, the reboot of “Ratchet and Clank” is a game that all PS4 owners should try.