This year is Ratchet and Clank’s tenth anniversary and to celebrate, Sony is re-releasing the original PlayStation 2 titles in HD also with added 3D and Trophy support. When the games were originally released, they received commercial and critical success, but have the lovable duo stood the test of time?
Developed by Insomniac Games (Spyro the Dragon, Resistance series), The Ratchet and Clank games have always been about having an explosive mix of third-person platforming, shooting and generally blowing stuff up; a formula which hasn’t really changed ten games later. The three titles follow the adventures of Ratchet (the furry, long eared cat-like thing) and Clank (the small robot) as they travel to a number of galaxies visiting planets and meeting hilarious characters along the way. The game series is famous for its mix of crazy weapons and gadgetry including the Swingshot, Suck Cannon, The Sheepinator, The Quack-O-Ray and the incredibly powerful RYNO (acronym for ‘Rip Ya a New One’).
The first Ratchet and Clank game originally released in 2002 was where the franchise started and introduced the world to the Ratchet universe with its beautiful cartoony sci-fi setting, light-hearted humour and addictive gameplay. The first thing I noticed when I started up the game was how amazing it looks; especially considering it’s now ten years old. This is partly down the fantastic upscale job but also down how considerably well designed the levels are in their own right. The colours are vibrant, the levels laid out brilliantly and because of ships flying around and an interactive environment, they really feel like living, breathing worlds.
After replaying the game for a while I certainly noticed the flaws that the port retains. The direction the story takes results in the two protagonists having a disagreement and arguing throughout the game. This often makes Ratchet seeming quite unlikeable, which is a bit of a shock considering how friendly they are in all the other games. The game also suffers from repetition which at the time was forgivable considering how ambitious it was for a brand new IP. Now however, not so much. Thankfully the sequel completely fixes these problems.
Ratchet and Clank 2 introduces more light RPG elements with health and weapons that automatically upgrade the more you use them. The game also introduces many key features and ideas that are still used in the more recent Ratchet games today including arena battles, space combat and spherical levels. The new features, plus the varied gameplay and mini games make the second instalment in the series a vast improvement over the original and remains a fan favourite even to this day.
Ratchet and Clank 3 includes more of the same with improved gameplay options, varied levels and even a 2D platformer mini game starring series regular Captain Qwark . What’s most surprising about the Ratchet and Clank 3 re-release is that both the offline and online multiplayer from the original PlayStation 2 game remains here intact. The multiplayer modes include deathmatch, capture the flag and a siege mode in which the player storms the opponent’s base and tries to destroy the power core inside. Online gaming on the PS2 wasn’t as accessible nor as popular at the time as it is now, so this is going to be a fantastic opportunity for most people to experience the game online for the first time.
I instantly fell in love with the Ratchet and Clank series when I originally played them on the Playstation 2 and I’m very happy to announce that my feelings for the games haven’t changed after playing this HD release. The game looks absolutely amazing in HD considering its age and the classic gameplay is still as addictive as ever. There’s so much variety in the three games that you just never know what they’re going to throw at you next. This collection will also keep you busy for a while since all three games are quite long for the genre and include lots of unlockable content and collectables. Trophy hunters will also appreciate that each of the three games has their own individual trophy lists.
The three titles aren’t flawless though and there are a few cut scenes in the games where graphical glitches are apparent, most noticeably the eyelids sometime seem to be almost completely separated from the character’s eyes. Another thing that lets the games down are the pre rendered cut scenes that are poorly upscaled and not in wide screen, which lets down the otherwise great looking game. This collection also feels slightly incomplete since it doesn’t include Ratchet Gladiator which was the 4th and final Ratchet game on the PS2 to be developed by Insomniac Games. Another problem with the HD Collection (and many of the other HD Classic Collections) is that they don’t include any extras. A bunch of unseen concept art, new ‘making of’ videos and retrospective interviews with the developers would have gone a long to making this package feel more complete especially for the fans who have already bought the games on PS2 years ago.
I have always been a big Ratchet and Clank fan from the beginning, so playing these games again after so long was a very enjoyable nostalgic experience. I was definitely worried at first that the games would have aged badly, but that hasn’t been the case thanks to the HD facelift and generally. The Ratchet and Clank Trilogy is a good introduction for those who haven’t played the original PS2 games before as well as those who have and should keep you distracted as we wait for the new Ratchet and Clank: QForce later this year.
The Ratchet and Clank Trilogy is available now on Blu-ray disc for PS3 (£34.99 RRP). Alternatively all 3 games are available to buy individually or as a bundle from the PSN Store (£11.99 each, £23.99 bundle)