Ratchet and Clank
The spin-off Ratchet and Clank movie may have failed to set the box office alight (16% on Rotten Tomatoes – ouch!) but this faithful reboot of the 2002 original gives gamers a bigger bang for their buck. With superb writing, effortless controls and some sumptuous visuals to make your PS4 sing, Insomniac Games have, to sort-of quote Richard Attenborough, “spared no expense.”
It would seem this dynamic duo, like so many before them, have been unable to leap that mighty chasm from game to film. It’s a shame because Ratchet and Clank’s storytelling and many gut laughs are a real delight, enough to stop all but the most curmudgeonly gamers from skipping the excellent cutscenes.
The game itself, while a ‘reimagining’ of the first in the series, also incorporates game mechanics from later titles – a wise move for today’s nimble-fingered, multi-tasking gamer. Although there’s plenty to learn in terms of moves, weaponry and upgrades, Ratchet and Clank’s hand-holding is quite exemplary. Again, humour is deployed left, right and centre; poking fun at gaming conventions along the way. Within minutes you’ll be effortlessly deploying Ratchet’s many moves against the enemy hordes like a right proper badass.
There’s also plenty to learn along the way – each new ability or weapon is, on the whole, introduced easily and always makes sense. Press a button instinctively and it will likely do what you think it will. This may sound like stating the obvious, but after half an hour with Ratchet in your hands, you can see and feel where so many others never quite get these things right.
On the whole, each section of the game feels admirably tight and flab-free. It’s perhaps a throwback to the time of the original release, when developers didn’t feel the need to pad out their worlds with pointless grinding and incalculable side quests. Set pieces never outstay their welcome and the plot barrels along to its conclusion in a way that other storytellers could certainly learn from.
This helps paper over some of the small quibbles too. While the core gameplay is quite exemplary, the odd passage can occasionally feel a tad unadventurous by comparison. One such instance is an early flying sequence that could have been a pulse-quickening injection of adrenaline; instead the execution is cumbersome and laborious. Fortunately, the pace of the game means such issues are fleeting.
In the main, the title deals with some meaty combat; despite the child-friendly appearance, Ratchet and Clank puts up a decent fight while the enemy AI feels responsive, intuitive and surprising all at the same time. Though you’re equipped with some powerful weaponry, ammo is kept tight so there’s always a balancing act going on in your mind. Your projectile weapons will take out an enemy at range with some ease but perhaps hand-to-hand combat is the better strategy, saving your bullets for a defter foe who is likely just around the corner.
These tactical mechanics atop some satisfying gun-play ensure that Ratchet and Clank remains fresh throughout its runtime, the minor niggles swept away by the bulk of Insomniac’s vibrant, goofy, sci-fi lite yarn.
In the world of popular entertainment, the ‘reboot/re-imaging/regurgitation’ of licenses is becoming something of an easy fix to an ailing franchise – with mixed results. Ratchet and Clank can consider itself a success on those terms; an invigorating fresh start and an excellent bedrock for the future of the series.