The Ratchet & Clank Trilogy: review

 

  • Format: PS3
  • Unleashed: Out Now (EU), 28th August (NA)
  • Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
  • Developer: Insomniac Games/Idol Minds
  • Players: 1-4 (offline), 2-8 (online)
  • Site: http://www.ratchetandclank.com

Ratchet and Clank celebrate ten years of platforming antics this year. What better way to celebrate than a new collection of the duo’s original adventures in sparkling HD? So, have the ten years been kind to the pair, or has Clank lost his lustre after all these years?

Initial impressions were good, with a superb HD transfer from the PS2 originals. The graphics are lively and colourful, and run at a silky smooth rate throughout the games’ play time. Obviously the newer PS3 games have a slight graphical edge with some fancier effects, but after a decade the series has stood the test of time. The only thing marring the HD transfer is the cut scenes, which are still in the original 4:3 TV aspect ratio. They’re also slightly blurry, which is quite jarring considering the sharpness of the actual gameplay sections.

The Ratchet & Clank Trilogy looks fantastic in HD.

The Ratchet and Clank series may be labelled as a platformer, but the gameplay is quite combat orientated, with Ratchet eventually accruing an imaginative arsenal. To begin with though, you only have your wrench to protect you from the army of enemies that you will encounter. It’s a simple yet very effective weapon, which can be flung at enemies much like a boomerang, as well as swung for melee attacks. However the game comes into its own as you gather together an imaginative and hilarious collection of weapons. From the self-explanatory (but not dirty) ‘Suck Cannon’, to the ‘Morph-O-Ray’, which turns your enemies into chickens, and the ‘Walloper’, which endows Ratchet with a giant boxing glove. The game lets you experiment with your weaponry, and the weapons wheel is a quick and easy way to swap between your guns in the heat of battle – and you are encouraged to use them, as they get upgraded with use.

The platforming sections aren’t as polished as the combat, and jumping can feel quite imprecise at times. The camera angle can also hinder your progress, as some hazardous drops don’t appear until the last minute, which can result in a needless and frustrating death. Ratchet’s robotic buddy Clank is strapped to Ratchet’s back and gets upgraded with a propeller, which lets you jump higher and further like a metallic Inspector Gadget. Clank does have his own sections to play through, but his lack of weaponry and agility make his sections quite tedious to play, and you do end up wishing they were over so you can get back to the action-packed Ratchet levels. Weapons and characters alike are memorable in the collection with Ratchet being a surfer-dude type, while Clank is the charming robotic sidekick. The enemies are also well scripted, such as the bonkers Dr Nefarious and the bumbling Captain Quark (who resembles Mr Incredible from The Incredibles, but with the costume of BBC Breakfast Time’s Green Goddess).

The characters are well written, with lots of humourous moments in the games.

Each of the planets you visit are packed with crates and other on-screen furniture to destroy which leave you ammo, health packs, or bolts to collect, which are used as the games’ currency. Bolts are used to purchase new weapons, upgrades to your weaponry/armour or ammo at various vendors that are dotted throughout the levels. The game breaks up the platforming and combat with short space combat sections, a hoverboard racing game, and sections where Ratchet uses his Grind Boots to ride on rails like a futuristic Sonic.

Although all three games are pretty similar, Ratchet and Clank 2 and 3 do evolve from the original. For instance, the controls are improved, the characters feel more agile, and the addition of strafing really helps the combat. The weapons are also more imaginative and pack more punch as the series progressed. To add yet more variety there are puzzles to solve. For instance the Hydrodisplacer is used to move water from one pool to another, which unveils previously inaccessible parts of the level; and similarly the Thermanator lets you freeze and thaw areas of water. There are also simple security hacking mini games, and arena based combat sections.

Variety is the spice of life, and Ratchet & Clank has that in spades.

The Ratchet and Clank Trilogy offers a lot of value, and each of the games can take between 15-20 hours to complete, which is phenomenal for a platformer. Ratchet and Clank 3 also has a multiplayer mode; although when we tried to test it, there were no games available (though you can play it offline too). The only downside is that the games are very similar, and playing all three back-to-back can be quite a slog. It would be like playing the Modern Warfare Trilogy or the Assassin’s Creed saga without a break, and we would definitely suggest playing different games in between each chapter to help refresh yourself before you start the next. The checkpoints are also perhaps too far apart which can mean playing a large section of a level again, which can get quite tiresome. This is at its worst when facing the boss at the end of the first game, which has three separate parts; and if you fail on the third part, you have to go back and play the first two parts again! Having said that this collection is well worth getting, and the series has aged a lot better than their rivals Jak and Daxter (who appear on a TV screen in one of the games), and are still as playable as when they were launched all those years ago.
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Written by Kevin M

I've been addicted to gaming since my parents bought an Atari console way back in the 70's. I progressed to the iconic Speccy, Amiga, and all the Playstation platforms. Having seen games evolve from single pixel bat and ball, to HD constructed environments, gaming has changed much from my early years. Having defeated the rock hard R-Type on the Speccy, the biggest challenge I've faced so far is putting up with the hordes of American teens spouting abuse in the current generation of consoles, noob indeed!

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