When the PlayStation 2 was in its prime, it had two huge platformer games that went neck-and-neck for the player’s attention. In one corner you had Ratchet & Clank, a dynamic duo consisting of a fuzzy creature called a Lombax, and a small defective warbot with a lot of heart. In the other corner you had Jack & Daxter who would go on to become edgy and M-rated as that studio eventually became the developers of the Uncharted series.
It’s honestly hard to say who won, because I loved both of those games. Now it’s time to relive the glory days because Ratchet & Clank is back on PS4. This isn’t some rush job HD remaster either, no sir/madam, this is a full reimagining of the first game that started a series which spans over a decade and consists of 15 games. It’s also a game based on a movie which is based on the game. More on that later, let’s dive in!
A Classic Story Refreshed For The Modern Age
The original Ratchet & Clank had a simple but effective story: a race of aliens known as the Blarg have utterly trashed their homeworld, so now their representative, Chairman Drek, is creating a new homeworld by cannibalizing pieces of other worlds to build a paradise for his people. It’s just about as noble as it sounds, but it made for a cool story.
Now, there is a movie coming out, which I’m looking forward to seeing. This movie follows a similar storyline to that first game. This reimagining of the series is also based on the reworked plot of the film. So, yes, this is technically a “movie game” but to be fair, the game came first by a long shot.
So, Ratchet & Clank on the PS4 opens with a similar premise, but this time the story is being narrated by series veteran Captain Qwark from a jail cell of all places. His unique twist on the game’s events are hilarious.
Right off the bat you can tell that Insomniac put a lot of heart into this remake of the original game. The quality of the writing is great, with punchy jokes coming at regular intervals, and all of the voice actors we know and love have returned to reprise their roles.
Like many games in this genre, it’s family-friendly while also being challenging enough, and fun enough for adults to enjoy. If you played the series at all since it’s release, you’re already sold, but keep reading and I’ll build the hype.
The story adds new planets and new villains to the fold. Dr. Nefarious plays a major role in this title, which is a big change because he wasn’t added until a later game in the series. They also go into more detail about Clank’s origins and how he and Ratchet met, which starts the game off on a high note that is fresh for new and old players alike.
At the end of the day, there’s about as much story here as you would expect from any high-quality animated production or platformer. It’s not going to win any Oscars or make you question your existence, but it has a lot of charm and some great jokes.
Gameplay Refined Over Two Generations
The first Ratchet & Clank game that came out on PS2 in 2002 was great for its time, but since then the studio has refined, tweaked, and otherwise improved on the series immensely. When tackling this full remake, Insomniac Games smartly decided to bring all of this knowledge and experience to the table.
Not only are the controls themselves tight and accurate, but helpful options like a dedicated aim button and strafing are all present and accounted for. Innovations like weapon leveling, upgrades, collectibles, and even flying sequences are all here.
If you’re a veteran of the series (and many of you reading this will be), just imagine everything you liked about the last three or so games in this series and ball that all into one game. Yep, that’s how amazing this game is.
For new players, Ratchet & Clank is your classic platformer, through and through. You play the game from a third person perspective and navigate different planets using a variety of gadgets you unlock as you play. Jumping, running, grinding on rails, flying with a jetpack, it’s all here.
The series has always been known for its unique and hilarious weaponry, and this new entry is no different. From series staples like a pistol, a flamethrower, and fusion grenades, your arsenal quick evolves into weapons like the Groovitron which is a deployable disco ball that sends your enemies into a dancing fever.
My personal favorite is a snarky robot companion who shoots at enemies for your named Mr. Zurkon. While helping you fight, he says hilarious one liners like these:
- ”You are not dead yet, Mr. Zurkon intends to rectify this!”
- ”Mr. Zurkon does not need bolts, his currency is pain!”
- ”Has no one warned you about Mr. Zurkon?”
- ”Have your learned how to be killed? Mr. Zurkon is here to give you your first lesson.”
I crack up every time I deploy him and he spouts out one of his classic one liners. The weapons always impress, and the action gives you plenty of ways to use them. While you’re exploring, you’ll also collect raritanium, which allows you to upgrade your weapons. In addition to this, both your character and your weapons level up the more you use them and provide additional firepower or increased maximum health for your character.
The game allows you to freely travel between planets as you gain new abilities. You’ll be able to come back to previous areas and find new collectibles or pursue side objectives as you progress. It makes the whole thing feel very large in scope and adds a lot of variety to the game’s levels.
This is platforming at its finest, plain and simple. I would love to see more games like this find a new home on PS4. Honestly, the amount of improvements also makes this a far cry from a lazy HD remaster. Every remake should have this kind of care put into it.
We’ve Hit Pixar-Quality Graphics!
Every time a Ratchet & Clank game comes out, all the reviews say ”It looks almost as good as a Pixar movie!” Well, it’s time to take out the “almost” in there, because the PS4’s horsepower has provided us with a game that could easily go toe-to-toe with the graphics of today’s major animated films.
Not only are characters incredible detailed, but their expressions and animation are smoother than ever. The game runs almost perfectly at a steady frame rate, with minor dips only when the action is literally filling the screen. The colors leap off the screen with bright contrasts and beautiful explosions.
Everything about the game is big, flashy, and exciting. It’s by far the best looking game in the series and one of the best looking games on PS4 thus far. What’s even more remarkable, is that the game seamlessly integrates scenes from the upcoming movie into the game’s story and it’s almost impossible to tell which is which!
Yes, you can tell if you really look, but the difference has never been smaller. This is an absolutely gorgeous game.
Did I Mention It’s $39.99?
On top of all this, with enough content to call it a new game, Insomniac is only charging $40 brand new for this incredible remake. This is worth full price any day of the week, but they’ve seen fit to sell it as if it were just another remake.
Guys and gals, I’m not going to lie, I’m a big fan of this series, but even if I wasn’t, this game would make me a believer. It doesn’t matter if you’re five-years-old, or fifty-five, this is a game everyone with a PS4 should own.
Final Score - 9.5/10