Ratchet & Clank PS4 Review
A review of the accompanying movie can be found here – Ratchet & Clank – the movie review.
I’ve been a huge fan of the Ratchet and Clank franchise since I played the first iteration on the PS2 back in 2002. It feels like a long time ago now and for a while there was a new game released just about every year, which was perfect for me; I can’t get enough of them. Unfortunately, though, there hadn’t been a real one since 2009 before now, with the exception of Into the Nexus which was relatively short. So seeing the series come back to life in the form of a reboot stirs a multitude of conflicting emotions for me – I’m ecstatic to see the duo I grew up with return, nostalgic for the familiar characters and levels, but also a little sad because I still need to know what happens after A Crack in Time, damn it! Here’s hoping the older games are re-released and the next one picks up where we last left off, I can’t wait another 8 years for a reboot series to catch back up!
It was evident from the trailer that the story has been changed for new audiences but I’m not entirely sure why. I go into more detail of the story in my review of the movie, which this game basically acts as a tie in for. Although, as I also mention, the separation of the game and the movie causes some awkward things to occur, especially regarding character progression and bonding. As pieces of the movie are used for some in-game cutscenes, relationships seem to change instantaneously and there’s obvious sections where parts of the movie have been replaced, wholesale, for gameplay. The same goes for the movie, though, too. It needed the gameplay to stretch out the timeline and let the cast grow but instead it also bounces around unpredictably. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again – if the movie was used in its entirety for the game’s cutscenes and the game followed the new story closer, instead of trying to include the original levels as ‘throwbacks’, everything would have flowed together much smoother.
On the other hand the gameplay and comedy hasn’t budged an inch but that has never been a problem with the series. There’s really no other games out there like them so it’s not like a new generic FPS being released into an already flooded market. The formulae itself is unique, so it’s exactly what the fans want and what the newcomers need to be experiencing. Strafing and jumping around the battlefield firing off tons of ridiculous, explosive weaponry at all sorts of comedic enemies in a responsive 3rd person view is perfect. Just perfect. Then, when all the enemies have been annihilated or turned into sheep and the smoke clears – bolts. Mountains of lovely collectible bolts (the game’s currency) all waiting to be picked up or smashed out of crates to reward you. Ahhhh, so satisfying.
Even more so is a weapon levelling up or being improved via the skill-tree-esque upgrade system. In fact, Ratchet and Clank games have always been a constant stream of hilarity and satisfaction built on exploring stunning worlds, meeting charming characters, and continuously discovering new weapons, gadgets and secrets. Well, this new version is no different although I guess that’s a given considering it’s almost an exact re-skin of the original with the addition of the movie cutscenes and updated boss sequences. Heck, even the hover-board races are identical as far as I can remember. Still wildly fun, just not exactly fresh.
Have I yet to mention that the game looks incredible? Because it does. Aside from a few frame drops I rarely experienced, it’s immediately evident that Insomniac Games have pushed the PS4 to its limits on both graphics and performance. There’s always a lot going on all around and it is amazing to witness the beauty of the landscapes and spaceships flying by as you’re locked in combat with a small army of Blargs. Some other levels are darker, which helps to show off some absolutely wonderful lighting, especially when the room is lit up suddenly from a blast of the Pyrocitor (flamethrower, if that wasn’t obvious from the name). The graphics along with classic sound design and great voice acting completely immerse the player in the world. The series has always felt natural and welcoming but now it does so more than ever.
It’s a great reboot/re-release. Maybe one of the best, but with a new story that doesn’t focus on our heroes and the solidifying of their bond as partners I’m sure that newcomers to the series will only be staying for the fantastic gameplay, but quickly forgetting about the franchise once they put it down. This needs to be rectified with a more grounded sequel…or 5, please. Although, the earlier inclusion of Dr. Nefarious (whilst he’s still a squishy) is something I’m definitely behind, as it has now rightfully cemented him, no doubt, as the main recurring villain for future games. I’m sure his humour will be…
”I don’t have the capacity for love, Janice. I was cursed by a tribe of gypsy ninjas when I was a kid.”
“I know, Lance, I was in that tribe of gypsy ninjas”
…returning in full force for the sequel.