TIME TO KICK SOME ASTEROID.
Note: The following review is SPOILER FREE!
Many long time fans of the Ratchet and Clank franchise (like myself) had mixed feelings when the newest Ratchet and Clank was announced. A new full-size Ratchet and Clank game was an exciting prospect, but it was going to be a reboot of the first game set to release in conjunction with a Ratchet and Clank animated movie, which raised more than a few eyebrows. Afterall, when was the last time a video game based on a movie was good, especially one that is itself based on another video game from 15 years ago? Well, I am more than happy to report that Ratchet and Clank is an absolute blast, bursting with all of the things that made us love Ratchet and Clank all those years ago, with just a hint of new and exciting elements.
The Game, Based On A Movie, Based On A Game
The story of Ratchet and Clank is mostly what you’d expect, but with just enough pleasant surprises to turn the heads of older fans. Captain Qwark is telling the story of the new movie to a new “friend” of his after the fact, which really just means that we have Qwark as the occasional goofy narrator, telling our heroes what to do and making snide remarks whenever the player messes up. The story is a re-imagining of the story from the original game, but with a few choice details notably different.
The biggest change to the story is the inclusion of Dr. Nefarious, who is now the mad scientist providing the evil robots for Chairman Drek, the tweaked villain from the first game. He still has an evil plan to create his own planet by harvesting the resources of all of the other planets in the galaxy, and it is up to Ratchet and Clank, along with a few Galactic Rangers, to stop him. Drek has a significantly different personality here than he did in the original game, acting as more a buffoon than calculated villain, but it generally works well. Nefarious is entertaining, but nowhere near as charming as he was in Up Your Arsenal.
The problem with the villains stem from the inclusion of both in the same game, so neither is given enough time to shine in their own right. Drek especially is given the short end of the stick here, which is disappointing as this is likely the last we’ll be seeing of him. I sincerely hope that in the sequel Insomniac focuses on just one villain, preferably Nefarious, so they can really come into their own as an antagonist. All of that being said, the story is still well told and engaging, and I am glad they didn’t simply retell the original story without changing anything.
Rip Ya A New One
Ratchet and Clank’s gameplay is a melting pot of several previous entries, taking the best parts of past gameplay to create what feels like the definitive Ratchet and Clank experience. The weapon lineup includes guns from across several games, with just a sprinkle of new to create what I consider the most well-rounded arsenal yet. Every gun is useful in its own way, getting rid of some of the duds that have plagued older titles (looking at you, Whopper and Spiderbot Glove). Better still, the weapons often work in tandem with each other, such as the Groovitron and the Proton Drum which make for a devastating and stylish combination. All the guns level up with use, which increases their power and opens up more potential upgrades for them using Raritanium.
The battles are just as smooth and tense as ever, though admittedly very familiar. The game also features a very clever card system, which unlocks passive upgrades or even improved versions of weapons as you complete each set. The different sets include references to past games like the Tools set, which is three characters from Tools of Destruction, or the Blaster set, which includes different versions of the Blaster from over the years. It is a wonderful way to unlock upgrades filled with nostalgia and was honestly one of my favorite parts of the game.
The graphics of Ratchet and Clank are simply fantastic. It is the best looking game on the PS4, period. Even when I was fighting against a dozen enemies—with a Groovitron disco ball making them moonwalk across the screen, while a Proton Drum sent out pulses of pain, while Mr. Zurkon and Zurkon Jr. opened fire with their usual spunk, while I had hundreds of bolts hurdling towards me AND as I was shooting Peacemaker missiles left and right and watching the subsequent mini-missiles explode in all directions—the frame rate didn’t dip in the slightest. If that doesn’t convince you, nothing will.
Ratchet and Clank is a near-perfect reboot, giving me just enough nostalgia, freshness and gunfire to satiate the itch I have had for a new Ratchet and Clank. Minor story issues aside, it is a wonderful game filled with wacky humor, things that go boom and anthropomorphic animal aliens to warm anyone’s heart. Now if only they made a sequel.
Ready for another one? Upset about Nefarious stealing Drek’s spotlight? Tweet me @adam_mcconnell. And be sure to follow us @YouNerded.
*This review of Ratchet and Clank is based on a retail copy of the game played on a PS4 console.
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