Ratchet & Clank (PlayStation 4)

Developer(s) – Insomniac Games

Publisher(s) – Sony Interactive Entertainment

Director(s) – Brian Allgeier

Artist – David Guertin

Developed in conjunction with a feature length theatrical film, and intended as a reboot of the entire series and a re-imagining of the original game, Ratchet & Clank was released to a respectable level of critical acclaim from game reviewers, whilst they extensively panned the film. In the end, I was left with the opinion that whilst the reboot isn’t the best entry in the series by any stretch of the imagination, and I would’ve ultimately much preferred a continuation of the previous narrative in terms of new possibilities in the respects of both gameplay and story, this game also didn’t turn out to be the worst entry in the series either, and whilst it may be lacking in story, it certainly wasn’t lacking to any great extent in gameplay.

Graphics – 9.5/10

On a graphical level, this is the best looking Ratchet & Clank game ever developed. The level of detail in character and environmental design is staggering, and it was interesting to witness how many levels from the original game had been either re-worked or re-structured in conjunction with how the series itself has been re-established. Also, whilst it’s very simple to see a majority of the game as being a simple carbon copy of the first Ratchet & Clank, the developers also added new levels, enemies, locations, weapons and boss fights to keep the franchise relatively fresh in the process, so it left me with fewer complaints about the graphics than I originally thought that I may have had going into it after trying it out at Play Blackpool.

Gameplay – 8/10

Playing out like every other main entry in the series, this game takes a great deal of stable elements from it that have made it great throughout the years, and compresses them all into one single enjoyable gaming experience. There are a ton of weapons to buy and upgrade, a ton of collectables and unlockables to find along the way, and a fair bit of replay value, as the traditional challenge mode is also included. The biggest criticism I have towards the game’s style of play is that unlike most other entries it doesn’t really offer anything new beyond the trading card side quests, and I also think they could have done more to make the sequences of playing as Clank a little bit more unique and extensive. Otherwise, however, whilst it may be considered by fans (including myself) as a lacklustre entry in comparison with others, it’s by no means a bad game.

Controls – 10/10

Incorporating virtually the same control scheme introduced in Ratchet & Clank 2, and having been worked on a modified over a period of more than ten years, the control scheme naturally presents no issues whatsoever. Ever since the strafe ability was introduced with the second instalment, playing any other main entry has been to experience a series of games with no unnecessary complications or annoyances attached to it in the respect of controls; and this game is no exception.

Lifespan – 6/10

The main story can only be made to last around 10 hours, but as I previously said, there is value in replaying it a second time, making the game last anywhere between 20 to 25, which whilst again may be short in comparison to A Crack in Time, isn’t anywhere near as fleeting as the average mainstream game. It could have been made to last longer given a greater amount of variety and the traditional inclusion of new ideas, which again is another reason why I believe a continuation of the previous events would have been preferable, but there is a fair amount to do to keep players busy for a decent amount of time regardless.

Storyline – 5.5/10

Having played the game, and going into it knowing full well it was based on the film, it’s easy to see why it didn’t work as a theatrical release. In an alternative series of the events to the first game Ratchet is a mechanic working on planet Veldin when Clank crash-lands, and is found by Ratchet. After leaving the planet, and helping to save planet Kerwan from a fleet under the ownership of evil entrepreneur Chairman Drek, the duo are then inaugurated into the Galactic Rangers under the command of their leader, the famed superhero Captain Qwark. The rangers then undertake a mission to stop Drek and the commander of his fleet, former Galactic Ranger Dr. Nefarious. Having experienced the plot for myself, I was left thinking of it as hugely watered down in comparison to almost every other entry in the series. The plot is pretty straightforward and uninspiring, and the comedic element was uncharacteristically weak too. On top of that, despite the fact that so many iconic villains of the series have been included in the same game, or perhaps because of it, it left very little room for characterisation between them. None of them stood out to any great extent in comparison to when each of them had been portrayed as the main villain in previous games, and their abrupt actions and lack of personality or in-depth motives make the whole story seem that evermore rushed. It was certainly sad to see the likes of Chairman Drek and Dr. Nefarious reduced to what I can only describe as shadows of their former characters, with Percival Tachyon also seemingly forgotten about entirely.

Originality – 6/10

As stated, the game is ultimately a collection of previous features found in previous games, and didn’t offer a great deal in terms of introducing new elements to the gameplay; particularly in Clank’s segments, which are more or less a carbon copy of the jobs he had to do in the original game of controlling mini robots to solve puzzles and deal with larger enemies. The majority of where this game’s level of uniqueness lies is in both it’s visuals and weapon design. For example, I was particularly impressed with the Pixeliser gun, which turns enemies and characters to 8-BIT renditions of themselves when shot with it. Combined with added locations and new enemy designs along with re-mastered versions of old ones, the developers did a fairly good job of rebooting the series, but I do hope they can implement more variety and character development in the next game to re-establish it as one that innovates as well as one that entertains.

Happii

Happii

Overall, Whilst I don’t think this is the franchise’s lowest point (by far that honour would go to Ratchet & Clank: Quest for Booty), I initially had a hard time scoring this game in comparison with other entries, but ultimately, I came to the conclusion of it tying with Ratchet & Clank: Nexus. I like both games equally for different reasons; the re-vamp has a much longer lifespan, but Nexus had more innovation and new gameplay elements, as well as an arena mode, which was regrettably absent from the re-vamp. None of this is to say that the reboot is a poor game; to me, it’s a mediocre Ratchet and Clank game, but nevertheless much more enjoyable than many other mainstream games being released at the moment.

Score

45/60

7.5/10 (Good)

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