In an effort to prove to the world that I don’t exclusively play Nintendo games, here’s a review of something I expected to hate.
Ratchet and Clank are one of those enormous game franchises that I somehow managed to miss. Actually, the common feature of games I missed, is PlayStation exclusivity, and Ratchet and Clank is one of those games that are very PlayStationy. There are fifteen R&C games, designed for the PS2, PS3, PS4, PS Vita, PSP, and smartphones. The original PS2 game has been on my shelf for a while, and I had every intention of getting to it, but Sony threw me a curve ball. They made the latest game available as one of the PlayStation Plus games of the month. It was just sat there on my PS4 waiting for the right time. When that time finally came, I was hooked.
To begin with, I don’t think you can blame me for ignoring Ratchet and Clank. It looks like a game for children. Ratchet is a Lombax, a creature that looks like a lion and a cat had a baby. Clank is a little robot that Ratchet carries around like a backpack. How can this not be for kids? If I had children that played video games, this is one I’d have bought for them. It looks like the first Toy Story movie, and while it does technically feature guns, explosions and the like, if your kids are OK with Star Wars, Ratchet and Clank isn’t going to be a problem. The humour manages to hit a nice level of silliness which adults and children will be able to enjoy together, something like an old Loony Tunes cartoon. Don’t be put off by the fuzziness of the characters and the artwork.
The gameplay breaks down into mostly Ratchet sections, which are the running, jumping, shooting things, levels, and the Clank sections, which are puzzle based. I could have done with a little more Crank, as the game felt a little bit more like Ratchet featuring Clank, rather than a more balanced Ratchet and Clank. Essentially it’s an action platformer, with a couple of puzzles thrown in, which is fine.
This latest game is a reimagining. Having never played the old games, I can’t tell you what has changed, and what is new. From what I’ve read, there’s enough of the original game in there to make you feel nostalgic. Don’t go into this one expecting a remake of the first game, with better graphics. That’s not what this is. If you want to get that 2002 feeling back all the way, get yourself a PS2.
There’s nothing particularly special about the structure of the game. You progress from area to area, collecting weapon upgrades and advancing the story. The weapon selection is a good one, with nothing leaving you wondering why the makers bothered to include it. Upgrades aren’t difficult to achieve so there’s no grinding involved in the process. That simplicity was a breath of fresh air. It’s nice to play a more simple game for a change. Not everything needs to be a 100+ hour epic. Sometimes it’s more fun to just relax with a game like this, knowing that you aren’t going to be still playing it in a year.
There are collectables in the game, which I know some people love. I’m fairly indifferent to it, and I can’t say there has ever been a game that managed to compel me to collect 100% of the extra items that require seeking out. In this case, you seem to come across many of these things just by playing the game. I haven’t collected everything that can be collected, but I’ve got most of them, and I must admit to being left with a better level of satisfaction as a result.
The between level cut-scenes are marvelous and should not be skipped. I couldn’t tell if they were pre-rendered or running in the game engine, because the game looked just that good. It feels like we’re well past the point where console games look better than the first few Pixar movies. The cut-scenes are funny, and managed to get a few laughs from people in the room when I was playing.
I’m very happy to recommend Ratchet and Clank on the PS4. I had a great time playing it, made all the better by knowing that it was kind of free. I laughed, I swore, I threw the controller, what more can you ask for from a game? If you want to pick it up, you can do so for not much money. It’s on Amazon and worth every penny.