Ratchet and Clank Review
Developer: Insomniac Games
North American Release Date: August 28, 2012
European Release Date: June 29, 2012
Trophies: 1 5 10 19
A decade after it began, we are once again reunited with our favourite Lombax and robot as they embark on their first adventure to save the galaxy. Does the first game of this long awaited collection withhold the same sway as the first game did back in 2002?
If it’s one thing people know R&C for, it’s for its sweet selection of guns, challenging puzzles, humourous action, and best of all: the classic platforming style that we all know and love. Saying that though, the gameplay is clunky and irritatingly slow. You’ll press a button and not have the action be performed as it should, because you were accidently holding something else down, or not having the analog stick in the right direction. Yes, I do realise that the game is a decade old, but bare with me for a little bit.
The most annoying aspect of the gameplay is the auto-lock on an enemy. Because the button placement is different from what you’d expect to use with a recent Ratchet game, you’ll often end up doing something completely and utterly different as to what you were actually meaning to do. Even if you know what buttons to use, the targeting system is unreliable. You’ll be swarmed by enemies and even though you managed to focus on one, even getting hit but another causes you to get the targeting system screwed up, and completely missing your enemy. It’s also very easy to die, as infrequent nanotech crates don’t do you the favour of showing up much, and when you’re attacked by a group of enemies, they’ll all target you at once, giving you no time to react. Then you’re sent back to your most recent checkpoint, which funnily enough for the most part is at the start of the level.
What are you guys looking at...?
Other little aspects like having to manually select your grappling hook in order to swing across a chasm instead of it being equipped automatically can be frustrating, as you’ll often realize your folly as Ratchet plummets to the bottom of an endless pit. Even if you do have it equipped, you’ll have to have the grapple in view of the camera. If you don’t, Ratchet will not grab upon it. Similarly, throwing yourself forward and attempting to grapple – even if it’s in plain sight – will screw you up, as Ratchet will not hook onto it.
That’s not all the gameplay does wrong. On one occasion Ratchet refused to grab onto the ledges at all. Then I figured out that you had to be level with it. If you were any higher and slipped you wouldn’t be able to grab on. In another instance you might have to risk life and limb to get to a certain area, and then either get stuck in the environment geometry, or if you’re high up, slip and fall to your death. Overall you have to view this game as a whole rather than inspect it closely. After all at its core it’s where the formula that we all know so well and love started here. However, you’ll be glad to know that the game series has improved since then. Not to say that this game has poor gameplay, but in reality for such a high quality story, improvements should have been made in the collection.
The Ratchet and Clank games have never really been about story – at least the few first ones that is. However, the game does provide more than just a reason to head to the next yellow marker. A number of twists and uncertain events pop up expectedly, sending the game in a direction that you didn’t foresee, for better or worse.
The tale is more or less what you’d expect from a Ratchet game, but it’s far from your light-hearted, childish dramatized tale that you might have come to see in the most recent title. As you might expect the dynamic duo meet for the first time in a less than friendly light, and as the story progresses, the contrast between Ratchet’s hotheadedness and Clank’s patience exterior comes into play with the main story. Sadly, there are no elements of “choice” or what to tackle next, as there were in some future titles.
Regardless, the story is based on Drek, a sinister businessm...err....thingy...who’s planet has become overly populated and overrun by poisonous gases. To save his own race, Drek decides to construct his own planet rather than fix up his own. And where does he get the sources to build his own planet? From other planets of course. And thus begins you quest; to stop Drek in his evil mission.
The story has you exploring multiple planets, all with completely different environments.
It’s not the main plot that gives this game’s tale the character; it’s what lies in-between, as the two main characters constantly bicker and trade insults, even questioning the true nature behind their motives. This add-on of not really trusting the one of the main characters leaves you to wonder if you are really going to get the happiest of endings. Don’t take that into thinking that the game provides a web of intricately laid twists and turns for you to discover – most of it is clear and simple. However, adding this aspect of the game gives the player some thoughts to ponder over as you make your way to the destination.
Most planets are constructed in such a way that once you’ve taken a certain path, collecting whatever the game throws at you, you in some cases may need to go in the opposite direction to find something required to advance to the next stage. If you’re too lazy to do so and just want to get the hell on with the story, you’ll be in for a disappointment; in turns out you’ll need to go back to that planet and go down that extra path in order to find something that was, in-fact required to finishing the main story. This extra level of back-tracking can be both irritating and positive, as it adds extra time to the quest itself, and gives you reason to explore and look in every nook and cranny. For what, you may ask? Gold bolts of course!
There always seems to be a reason to go back to that planet you just finished playing through. It may be because you wish to collect all the gold bolts, clear the map to 100%, or just finish a little side quest (if you can call them that), there’s not any real reason to stop re-visiting the planets for those who enjoy doing everything there is to done. In some cases you won’t be able to access a certain area because the gadget you need will not be available later – or in some cases must be bought with bolts. Don’t have enough? Too bad, go and collect some more until you do.
Not to say that this game is punishingly difficult – but the game will challenge you at times. For a good portion of the game you’re stuck at 4 hits – and once you die its back to the start of the level – or at best – halfway. It can be frustrating to lose all your progress, but the game isn’t that difficult. It is worth mentioning that it is harder than any of the later titles, but it won’t stumble anyone who is determined to press on. It tests your patience more than your skill, to be honest.
All in all Ratchet and Clank provides you with an excellent single player story and campaign, going back to good ol’ platforming days where what you got was what you got. Don’t come in expecting a dramatic tale, but the characters themselves provide enough reason to keep going alone.
You just might be surprised at how crisp the visuals are. The sound hasn’t done much over its HD facelift, but the smooth textures and sharp colours have done the graphics justice. The only issue is that when inspecting something – say a wall or floor that didn’t have clear textures to begin with, you won’t see any improvement and will only seem to look worse, but that’s merely because the rest of the game’s visuals are fantastic. If you acknowledge that the entire game once upon a time back in 2002 appeared as these walls do now, you might be a little more forgiving.
The easiest of the entire collection, but don’t fooled into thinking that means ‘easy’. You’ll be required to gain all platinum bolts, complete all skill points and hardest of all, have a million bolts stored in your inventory. Considering the price of the weapons and how difficult it is to scavange a good amount of bolts it is, this trophy might irritate you more than you’d think.
At its heart the game still remains the same chunky system that it was back in 2002; but there’s more to it than that. The story gives you an insight into the characters rarely seen in future titles, and the new crisp visuals await your satisfaction. Maybe not the strongest of the trio, but definitely worth your purchase.
Fun, but still has more annoying quirks than it should..
Has a fantastic tale for a platformer.
Does it's job well, despite a few nit picks.