Nostalgia is a funny thing. Video games that we love, perhaps more than any other medium, can be almost permanently lodged in our minds; they make up who we are as gamers. So, when we go back to our revisit our absolute favourites that entranced us in previous years, we often find that the very best games don’t always remain that way. Perhaps, despite the rose-tinted goggles through which we lovingly reminisce the games we love most, we discover that the gameplay is outdated, the textures and graphics are muddy, ugly and brown and, Ratchet’s kind of a dick to Clank in the first game isn’t he?
Insomniac’s Ratchet and Clank, beginning in 2002, is such a precious series for me, and reliving the exploits of one of the best platforming duos in gaming has been something of a disappointment for me in the recent past. Going back to a more than ten year old title, inevitably, no longer imbued the game with the beautiful Pixar-esque graphics they had enjoyed before. The voice acting became clunky and awkward, the weaponry and gameplay less varied and satisfying. It’s a truism to say that hardware and software have moved on in the decade since the original release of Ratchet and Clank, and that many sequels have spawned in that time.
It’s not quite a reboot, nor is it a simple remaster
So, this is where this year’s Ratchet ‘reimagining’ comes in. It’s not quite a reboot, and nor is it a simple remaster, but a curious entity in between. A tie-in with the feature film that hit cinemas at the end of April, 2016’s Ratchet and Clank is a game based on a film based on a game; only the illustrious Street Fighter: The Movie game can also lay claim to that accolade. Here, we might not have a fully-fledged new game with galaxies, worlds and a story to tie them all together that we haven’t seen before, but Ratchet and Clank is by far the most fun you can have on your PS4.
Perhaps soon to be dethroned by Naughty Dog’s upcoming graphical behemoth Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, Ratchet and Clank is currently the best looking game on consoles. Planets you’ll undoubtedly remember from the first game, such as the bustling metropolis of Kerwan or the war-torn battlefield of Batalia, are teeming with life, and the extra detail squeezed onto the canvas of every environment is astonishing. This isn’t a short game — running at around 10-15 hours for a single play through — but be sure to allow yourself some tie to stop and stare at the beautifully rejuvenated worlds just dying to be explored.
Insomniac’s reimagined series is almost a ‘best of’ compilation of fan favourite weapons and gadgets, and all feel very much at home as you blast your way through the largely similar original narrative. From forcing your enemies to dance uncontrollably with the Groovitron to transforming them into sheep with the Sheepinator (yes really), your tools of destruction are constantly satisfying and hilarious. The level of animation and detail built into each weapon is also a pleasure to behold; every type of enemy (including tanks and airborne foes) each have their own dance routine that’d put any Timepiece-goer to shame, and all at an impressive speed and animation quality.
Your gadgets and arsenal of weaponry are not simply irreverent: they are vital to adding variety to the gameplay. Clank-only puzzle sections are few and far between, so gadgets such as the Swingshot, Trespasser and Holo-Guise are all important to keep the core gameplay from going stale. All of the gadgets and weapons you’ll use will have featured in previous games in the series and will be recognisable to fans, yet the brand new Pixeliser also highlights the game’s excellent sound and visual design as your enemies crumble into retro game-inspired blocks.
The story is more or less the same as the 2002 original, and is still the weakest part of the package overall; the plot is more a device designed to link the player between each planet, with more than just a flavour of ‘a galaxy far, far away’. Making things ever so slightly worse is the inclusion of some characters from other games in the series so many new players introduced to the series might be confused.
Ratchet and Clank offers plenty to both new and veteran fans
However, the overarching story has never really been what has drawn gamers to the series, and the new Ratchet and Clank offers plenty to both new and veteran fans. For those fresh to the dynamic platforming duo, we’re right back at where it all started at the origin of both character’s relationship and entry into the venerable Galactic Rangers.
Going back to the origins of this dynamic platforming duo isn’t only for those new to the series; for older fans, on top of getting their hands on their favourite guns and gadgets on PS4, they can now enjoy a card-collecting system as addictive as collecting those precious, shiny bolts. Card packs can be found in secret parts of the environment in a similar way to the returning gold bolts and drop randomly based on your stats. Then, when a pack of three are collected — all with item descriptions laced with Insomniac’s trademark irreverence — you get various boosts for your guns and stats.
At a pleasingly wallet-friendly £30, Ratchet and Clank is how fans of the series would nostalgically view the 2002 original, with a little extra thrown in for good measure. Graphically beautiful, with your favourite gadgets and weaponry, long serving fans of the series can revisit this platforming beaut in the best way possible.
Ratchet & Clank is out now for the Playstation 4.