Ratchet & Clank has been one of the Playstation’s most favoured mascots (since the fall of Crash Bandicoot, anyhow), with a series that spans over 11 games and counting, and countless tie-ins and media appearances. Many PS2-era games have been seeing HD remakes for the PS3 (as opposed to simple re-releases), and Ratchet & Clank is the latest in this line.
For those of you who have been living under a lunar rock, Ratchet & Clank follows the adventures of a feline-ish alien called Ratchet, and his diminutive robot companion, Clank, as they save the galaxy again and again. The biggest pull of the game series—aside from the wonderful characters, level layout, witty dialog, and brilliant gameplay—has been the game’s completely over the top weapons that Ratchet acquires, from simple blasters to laser whips to vacuum cannons to transmogrification weapons that turn your enemies into exploding sheep. I’ve always personally had a soft spot for the series, because it’s consistently featured some of the most innovatively fun gameplay I’d ever encountered.
The HD remakes of the first three games are now available both as a disc purchase and as separate downloads on the PSN. This review covers the disc version, but to all intents and purposes, your experience will be more-or-less identical.
For a series of games that’s now just over ten years old, it’s amazing how well the gameplay has dated. It’s still great fun, and still relevantly funny. It’s interesting to see the minor tweaks and fixes carrying over from game to game as the developers, Insomniac Games, take fan advice on board and make the game the completely wonderful experience that it is. What I found utterly surprising is the fact that Ratchet 3’s online multiplayer, which was vastly underplayed back on the PS2, has been left intact and playable over the PSN. It’s an awesome added bonus if you enjoy multiplayer brawls.
Obviously, because it’s a PS2 port, the games don’t have the insanely high polygon count from the PS3 era Ratchet & Clank games, and the levels have not been refactored to take advantage of the PS3’s greater power. However, since the games are now in full HD with HD textures, you don’t notice the deficiencies as much. It still looks as gorgeously colourful as it did on the PS2, just more so, and at a full 60fps. As with all HD remasters, the game also features a bunch of trophies for each of the three games. Interestingly enough, the chaps who did the HD remastering, Idol Minds, included a 3D mode for the games, but since I don’t have a 3D TV, I couldn’t test this feature.
One very odd non-difference is that the cutscenes haven’t been rerendered in 1080p, so every time a cutscene pops up, the black bars appear on the sides of the screen, and the low res scene plays. It’s a little jarring, and the only factor that affects the standard of an otherwise high-quality remastering.
My only gripe with the disc-version of the game is that there’s no quick way to get from one to the other. You have to quit to the XMB, and then restart the disc menu before getting to the game you want. It’s certainly no game breaker, and certainly not a massive issue by a long shot, but it definitely would have been a nice –to-have feature.
If you haven’t played the original trilogy of games on the PS2, you seriously owe it to yourself to play this. Heck, even if you had played the original, now is a good time to replay one of the best platform shooter video game series in existence. This trilogy alone will provide so many hours of gameplay, that you’ll be hard pressed to find the time to play anything else. The only way that the Ratchet & Clank trilogy could be more fun was if it had local co-op. But then, that’s a different Ratchet & Clank game altogether.
Final Score: 9 highly weaponized prawns out of 10
Developer: Insomniac Games/Idol Minds
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Age Rating: 10+