It’s the game based on the movie that’s based on the game.
When the reboot of Ratchet & Clank was announced a while back, fans of the series rallied with excitement. Announcing alongside the reboot, Sony Pictures and Insomniac also provided fans with the teaser trailer for the Ratchet & Clank movie which is set to release on April 29th. To top off the excitement, the reboot costs only $39.99, much less than the standard $59.99 title. What’s not to love?
For newcomers or fans in need of refreshers, Ratchet & Clank is the tale of Ratchet, one of the last remaining individuals of the Lombax species, and Clank, a defect and miniature warbot designed by Drek Industries. After passing all of the Galactic Rangers tests on his home planet, Ratchet is denied admittance to the prestigious protectors of the galaxy. Dejected, Ratchet is greeted later that night by Clank, who escaped and crash landed on Ratchet’s home planet of Veldin; from there, the duo must battle their way through Drek’s warbots and to the Galactic Rangers – for Clank has information the beloved Captain Qwark needs to save the galaxies.
Again, those familiar with the original tale of Ratchet and his buddy Clank will feel right at home and deep within nostalgia from the beginning. If there’s one thing to be said about the reboot, it’s that the game remains largely faithful to its original tale. A few new details and plot presentations have been altered, of course, but the whole of its being remains intact and leaves me eager to watch the film.
Gameplay in Ratchet & Clank runs nearly identical to any of the previous titles. As Ratchet, you have gradual access to a plethora of weapons (most of which can be purchased, two of which can be unlocked) and gadgets. Aiming is done with L2 and firing with R2, and L1 and R1 utilize different gadgets or attachments that Clank acquires. This is, truly, where the Ratchet series shines – the awesome arsenal of weaponry. Insomniac Games has always built a combination of badass and hilarious weapons. For example, the Warmonger is a super powerful rocket launcher capable of downing Drek warfighters with a couple of warheads. The Groovitron, however, is a shiny disco ball that causes enemies to burst spontaneously into dance moves; likewise, the Sheepinator turns unsuspecting villains into harmless sheep. But the uniqueness of the weapons is just one facet of what makes Ratchet & Clank .so awesome. The game often requires you to switch between many of your weapons to deal with the barrage of enemies and projectiles flung in your direction.
As you progress through the game, too, your weapons level up (based on damage dealt and the power of the enemies you’re battling). Raritanium can be collected throughout the various worlds and from enemies, allowing you to upgrade your weapons (one piece of Raritanium upgrades a designated slot, and the slots expand upon each level). On your first playthrough, weapons can level up to a maximum of five. When you’ve cleared the game the first time, you can level up the omega versions of each weapon to a maximum level of 10. Of course, you can only acquire the Omega weapons with a lot of bolts (the in-game currency) and the set of cards designated to each weapon (this is a new feature, collecting the cards – but it’s a fun addition and easy to do).
Placed sporadically throughout the game are brief segments of gameplay where the player controls Clank. These consist of two parts: running from giant enemies (namely Victor von Ion) and solving puzzles by using little bots correctly. As I felt in the original and subsequent titles of Ratchet & Clank, Clank’s segments tend to slow down the pace of the game and offer juvenile puzzles – ones solvable with little thought and a few minutes. Granted, while I acknowledge that the series is geared towards a younger audience, I still often found myself bored with Clank’s events – which is a shame because I love Clank (and actor David Kaye has always done a phenomenal job voicing the lovable bot).
If I have one major gripe to make about Ratchet & Clank, it’s that, too often, the game felt like it relied on the film (which is yet to be seen) too heavily and skipped around its early narrative too often. Many of the cinematics were pulled straight from the trailers of the film, so it didn’t always feel like the game completely gelled. With that said, however, the original game also provided limited narrative connections, and both games use infobots to designate your next destination. This flaw in exposition doesn’t derail the story or the gameplay, but it did hurt my early experience and expectations.
In conclusion, Ratchet & Clank offers fans and newbies alike a chance to re-explore the origins of two of gaming’s most beloved characters. With a challenge mode filled with a significant amount of additional content, Ratchet & Clank is loaded with value, especially at its cheap price tag. Excellent voice acting, gameplay, boss fights, weaponry, and tongue-in-cheek dialogue leads Ratchet & Clank to find its way near the top of my favorite games of 2016 so far.