One of the most iconic dynamic duos in video game history have returned in a brand new game based on the movie, based on the game. Yes, you read that correctly; this game is based on the movie (releasing April 29th) that’s based on the original game made back in 2002 for the PlayStation 2. Set in the Solana Galaxy, Ratchet and Clank must team up to find Captain Quark and the Galactic Rangers to reveal the evil plans that Chairman Drek has in store for the galaxy.
Ratchet and Clank follows the original storyline in the general sense where Ratchet and Clank team up to stop Chairman Drek. However, this game is more than just a remaster to bring the PlayStation 2 classic to modern day graphics, even the storyline has changed creating a different immersion that old and new fans, alike, will come to enjoy. Staying true to the Ratchet and Clank formula, the story and dialogue are filled with jokes and crude humor while also covering the creative storytelling that Insomniac Games has done throughout the years. One of the greatest features is that the main cinematics are actually picked from the movie, giving you a greater look at what’s to come.
Starting on Ratchet’s home planet, Veldin, we start in his garage where we meet his boss and caregiver, Grimroth Razz, for the first time. Ratchet’s character kept true to what he used to be; a lonely Lombax looking to find fame and fortune outside of his little planet. Ratchet leaves the garage to go to a training course built to find the newest Galactic Ranger, which is a new addition. To fit in with the movie, this is where you meet the Galactic Rangers (yes, even before meeting Clank) unlike the first game, where you don’t meet any of them besides Quark, and that still takes some time. I thought this was a fresh twist, allowing new players to learn about all of the characters in a quick manner but also allowing old players to get a refresher and not have to deal with learning them over a long period of time.
After being rejected, Ratchet sees a large mass of metal falling through the sky and plummeting into the ground a bit away from the garage. There, he meets Clank, a smart and determined defective battlebot trying to escape the clutches of Chairman Drek so that he can give necessary information to the Galactic Rangers. Ratchet fixes him up and offers to bring him to Quark, where the two become inseparable allies and friends as they travel the galaxy.
I had previously mentioned that the storyline is pretty different throughout, but not as a whole. After saving the mayor of Novalis as well as Skid McMarx and his agent on Aridia, Ratchet and Clank head to Kerwan where they must save the Galactic Rangers at the Hall of Heroes, where Ratchet and Clank both become Rangers, themselves, which is vastly different than what happened in the original where they don’t become Rangers at all. For the most part, throughout the game, Ratchet and Clank go to the same planets that they went to in the original, albeit different areas like Aleero City on Kerwan instead of Metropolis.
Another amazing addition is that they included Dr. Nefarious, a recurring villain that first joined the series in Ratchet and Clank: Up Your Arsenal, where he was made of robotic parts with his old brain. Now, he is his regular self, flesh and all, allowing old fans to finally get a glimpse at his true back story, where, in fact, it’s not Quark who causes the Nefarious’ mutilation, but in fact it was Ratchet and Clank. New fans of the series will not notice this, but I thought it was a great addition for their older fans who have been around for years and have played the older games.
All in all, the story is written tremendously, bringing back the old humor that fans have come to love with also a few great tweaks to coincide with the movie and to allow new fans to not be overwhelmed and to easily slide into the story of the series. They didn’t alter the story too much where it’s nothing like the old game, but they gave it just enough variety so that it doesn’t feel like a rehashed version. I’m sure I speak for the entire fan base when I say that I’m excited for what Insomniac Games has in store for the future of the series (ha, do you see what I did there?).
If you’ve been a longtime fan of the series, you’ll know how awkward and, I’ll admit, irritating the controls were in the first game. Insomniac Games knew this and in every game from there on, the controls were vastly improved on and they make it feel very fluid and easy to use. They even have an option that can be turned off and on that allows for auto aim, a great feature for beginners to the series and third-person shooters. The game does play very differently than most games of today, so it’ll take a bit to get used to what does what and everything, but I felt myself getting used to it before I even left Veldin. Another fantastic addition was that, instead of having to go into the menu or quick select to get a specific gadget (swingshot, trespasser, hydrodisplacer, etc.), they would automatically pulled out at certain times and were only a single button press away, allowing for quicker and more fluid gameplay. However, one issue I do have is that if you’re fighting near a swingshot area, unless you use R2 as your firing button, you’ll be consistently trying to connect to the swingshot gadget, making it more difficult to kill your enemies.
The weapons are a huge part of the series, from the Blaster to the Glove of Doom to the RYNO, and they allow Ratchet to quickly decimate his opponents. The ability to level up your weapons, first introduced in Ratchet and Clank: Going Commando, is still in the game, allowing you to level them up to level five in the regular play through and level ten once you go into challenge mode and unlock the Omega variant through the collection of cards, which I will explain later. The weapons can be upgrades even further through the use of Raritanium, crystals found around levels and upon killing enemies, where you can upgrade it’s damage, area of effect, ammo, and even more.
Throughout the game, you’ll come across collectible cards that showcase different weapons, characters, and levels throughout the Ratchet and Clank series. Upon collecting these, you can potentially get three in a set which could increase your Raritanium find percentage, card find percentage, unlock an upgraded version of a weapon to use in challenge mode, or increase your Omniwrench damage. Having this addition, as well as the famous Golden Bolts which allow the player to access cheats, galleries, and visual set, allows for a longer playthrough, forcing the player to go back to previous planets they have already beaten to get to a secret that’s only accessible through the use of a gadget they received three or four planets later.
Another amazing feature that was brought into the game was the ability to fly around the level. Now, there are only a couple places where this is done, but it makes fighting a lot of fun and allows the world to feel more open-world-like, where before it was relatively linear. Gaspar is the first level to do this, and it allows you to do a side mission where you have to travel over giants pits of lava to get brains for a brain scientist so that you can get new items. The weird part is, however, you get this item before you get the Thrusterpack, an upgrade of the Helipack which allows Ratchet and Clank to reach new heights and travel the levels faster. But, at least you get the Hydropack from the get-go.
And, finally, the challenge mode has been brought back to allow players to play a harder version of the game with their old weapons, upgrades, and bolts they had when they beat the game. This will allow the players to get the upgraded weapon they unlocked from the card set, play a more challenging game, get all of the Golden Bolts and cards, and, ultimately, get more trophies! Challenge mode even comes with a bolt multiplier that rewards the player the better they are in combat. The multiplier starts at x1 and builds up to a max of x20. To increase it, the player needs to hit and kill enemies, and once they are damaged once, it goes straight back to x1. This allows the player to gain more bolts than previously because the new, upgraded weapons are very expensive.
For the most part, the gameplay is new and improved from the previous titles, with only minor things being nuisances. The controls are fluid, requiring only a small amount of time to master for old and new players, alike. The collectibles from Raritanium to cards to Golden Bolts allow the player to access new features of the game and make their weapons just that much more powerful, allowing for a good, steady progression. Overall, the new additions that were brought to Ratchet and Clank from the original game are a definite welcome with, giving players variety and allowing a relatively short game more longevity for those looking to have fun or to complete 100%.
The graphics are absolutely gorgeous in this game. Being a fan from the start, it’s amazing looking at both games just to see how far graphics have come. Everything stays true to the cartoon-like elements that we’ve come to admire from the series, but giving it a slight photo-realism that makes you not want to look away. Also, like I mentioned before, the major cinematics are taken directly from the movie, allowing a sneak peak and have more engrossing level to level cut scenes. Even looking at something as small as his exit from his ship when you get to a new planet is amazing because you can see Ratchet and Clank is such detail you can even count the hairs on his head.
The smaller cut scenes, however, are not as good as the movie cut scenes. This is expected, seeing as how the movie and the game use different elements, but it’s such a huge difference that it’s incredibly noticeable. First off, Ratchet (and Clank if he’s off of Ratchet) seldom move besides the facial expressions (which don’t move all that much, either). In one instance, when Ratchet is speaking with Skid McMarx, he stand in the same position (a sort of battle ready position) the entire time, where his body seldom moves and his expressions never change. His eyes blink and his mouth moves, a bit, to match the words, but that’s pretty much it. It gets especially worse when Skid gives Ratchet his hoverboard for saving him and Ratchet is still in this position, but with the hoverboard in his hands. It’s very distracting how poorly these were done, but it makes looking at the movie scenes that much more rewarding, at least.
Now, Insomniac Games always has a knack for their soundtracks, with quite a few of their levels have become favorites of mine over the years (with Metropolis from the 2002 Ratchet and Clank being my all-time favorite). It’s a great background noise to listen to, creating a sense of wonder with very futuristic and space-orientated music that really fits in well with the situation whether it be exploring or fighting a boss. The voice acting is also pretty amazing, with James Arnold Taylor and David Kaye reprising their roles of Ratchet and Clank and Jim Ward returning as Captain Quark. Everyone has very interesting and unique voices fitting their characters perfectly whether it be the smart, commanding voice of Rosario Dawson (Elaris) or the evil, shrill voice of Armin Shimerman (Dr. Nefarious). The only issue I had with voice acting was done by Bella Thorne, the voice actor behind Cora. She was absolutely fantastic in the movie cinematics, but in regular gameplay speaking it seemed like she was monotone and reading off a script. It sort of killed the mood, especially in her more apparent appearances like on Battalia where she’s with you the entire time.
With very few issues with the sound and a truly wonderful cast of new and old actors and characters, Ratchet and Clank scores incredibly well with their sound and graphics. Just by looking at the game you can already see the improvements made from the first game to this game and it definitely does the series justice having it in it’s classic cartoon-like style brought to modern graphics. With only a bit of issues with voice acting, the game definitely plays you a sweet medley of tunes as you traverse through the galaxy and is definitely one soundtrack that I’ll never get tired of.
Ratchet and Clank is definitely a truly amazing addition to the series, bringing back the nostalgia that had brought in thousands upon thousands of fans to the PlayStation universe but, also, bringing everything to a new level of entertainment from graphics, to the soundtrack, to the new storyline, and, of course, the new weaponry. With only a few things popping up here and there that slightly bugged me, this game is fantastic start to a new generation of Ratchet and Clank. I’m excited to see what Insomniac Games has in store for us and this game will go down as one of my favorite additions in the series and one of my favorite games of all time.