Game: The Ratchet & Clank Trilogy
Developer: Idol Minds/Insomniac Games
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Available on: PlayStation 3 Only
The Ratchet & Clank series of games, developed by Insomniac Games, are one of the best loved exclusive franchises from Sony Computer Entertainment, along with Jak & Daxter and – earlier than the PlayStation 2 – Crash Bandicoot. With the slew of HD Remasters that’s been hitting the shelves in recent years, and considering that Jak & Daxter have recently had their own Remaster, it was only a matter of time before this second dynamic duo got their own trilogy re-release. The Ratchet & Clank Trilogy, which has been co-developed by Insomniac Games and Idol Minds, collects the first three games in the trilogy, Ratchet & Clank, Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando and Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal. But is the game that we all remember loving ten years ago still the same thing today, or has our taste in video games grown up as we have? Is The Ratchet & Clank Trilogy even something that is worth playing in this modern era of cinematic storytelling and intricately woven gameplay?
STORY: The story in all three of the Ratchet & Clank games are extremely entertaining, even if they are a little standard. The universe needs saving and as usual, there’s only one person, or in this case two people that can save the day; Ratchet & Clank. When the trilogy starts, Ratchet & Clank are strangers to each other, but that soon changes when Clank promises to help Ratchet get away from his planet in exchange for helping him defeat the villainous Chairman Drek who is threatening to destroy the home-worlds of thousands of helpless people in an attempt to create a new world for his own people. The second and third games are more of the same, but with different interesting and unusual enemies playing the role of the antagonist. The second game had the evil corporation known as Megacorp with the game’s protopet as the final boss and the third had the hilarious Dr. Nefarious (one of the greatest video game villains of all time. “More of the same” isn’t a bad thing when it comes to Ratchet & Clank games though, if the narrative isn’t broken then why fix it? The story in all of the Ratchet & Clank games are well told, well voice-acted and highly entertaining, even becoming literally laugh out loud funny in certain parts.
GRAPHICS: One of the biggest questions that people ask when it comes to Sony’s HD Remakes is related to how good they look. These are games that were never meant to be viewed on high definition screens so naturally they need a little bit of sprucing up when it comes to getting them ready for a decent re-release. That’s where Idol Minds have come into the mix, getting the game ready for those high definition screens that most of us have been enjoying during this current console generation, and they’ve done an excellent job at it too. The main game itself wouldn’t look out of place against the more recent Ratchet & Clank games. Sure, the models still have a few less polygons than their more current counterparts but they still look decent and the textures have been updated so that they look quite decent in the 1080p that these Remasters run at. It’s not a game that’s going to win any beauty prizes, but considering that all of the games in the collection are almost ten years old (Insomniac games is actually currently celebrating the series’ tenth anniversary) they all looks absolutely stunning. Now we just need HD Remasters of the fourth game and the couple of PSP games and we’ll be all set.
SOUND: The sound of The Ratchet & Clank Trilogy is as good as any other game on the PlayStation 3. All of the voice acting in the main parts of the game sound good, is well performed and helps to push the story along in all the right ways. However, the audio in the cutscenes sounds a little lower quality in certain places. It doesn’t really take the player out of the game but it would have been nice if the audio within these cutscenes sounded of the same quality of the rest of the game. Speaking as someone who enjoys using subtitles when I’m playing games I should also mention that while the game does support subtitles in the main game, no subtitles will appear while a cutscene is playing. This means that you’re either going to have to turn the game back up during these (if you’re trying to play it at low volume for whatever reason) or just wear headphones. Most people won’t find this an issue though.
GAMEPLAY: If you’ve ever played a Ratchet & Clank game before then you already know what the gameplay consists of, but basically there’s always going to be a threat to the galaxy and you’re one of the only people that are equipped to stop things in their tracks. You will often perform these feats through the use of gadgets and weapons that you’ll find along your journey. In the first game, you’ll find these gadgets on each of the planets that you visit and you’ll find a use for them in certain specific situations, but you’ll only use a handful of them more than once. From the second game onwards though, you’ll be able to upgrade these weapons to more suit your needs. The weapons themselves aren’t your standard weapons though, some of them you’ll be able to find in more standard games but others, such as the Hand of Doom from the first game, are interesting enough in their own right to make you want to use them, though albeit not very often and usually only because you want to see something different from time to time.
When you’re not shooting your way through the enemies with a plethora of weird and wonderful weapons you’ll be smashing your way through them with Ratchet’s trusty…ratchet (he’s got to have gotten his name from somewhere). You’ll be able to use it in a standard attack as well as throwing it and, I’ve got to be honest, using it to smash the thousands of bolt filled boxes that are scattered throughout the game is one of the most satisfying feelings in gaming even now. It’s akin to collecting studs in LEGO games, so if you’re the type of person who smashes everything in sight while you’re playing LEGO games just to collect more and more studs, then you’re probably going to be doing the same thing with the bolts in Ratchet & Clank. These bolts aren’t totally useless though, you’ll often be asked to use them during gameplay to access the next part of progression, or you could simply use them to purchase more ammo and weapons from the vendors that are conveniently placed next to the landing pad on each of the planets you’ll find yourself visiting.
The gameplay is extremely linear, even though you can visit any planet you want to, at any time once you’ve unlocked it. You’ll usually only have to visit a planet once, or maybe twice if there’s an aspect to it that you can only access one you’ve found a particular upgrade which may be found on a later planet. Having said that though, this Zelda-type aspect of the gameplay keeps people engaged in the story and constantly keeps things that would usually feel a little bit stagnant, fresh.
There’s been plenty of games over the last ten years that use exactly the same gameplay elements as Ratchet & Clank though and chances are good that you know if you like it by now. If you like the idea of what you’ve heard, and you haven’t had the chance to play the first games in the series yet, then you need to go out and by them right now.
LONGEVITY: As we’ve come to expect from the HD Remasters, you’ll get a great amount of longevity from the three Ratchet & Clank games. Each one will easily last you upwards of eight hours and with three of them to entertain you, you’ll be playing them for a decent amount of time. The value for money that you’re getting from the game is also exceptional, the HD Remasters always come to retail at a cheaper price point than normal so you can bet that with the 20+ hours that you’ll be sinking into the trilogy you won’t find your wallet hurting from the purchase.
VERDICT: The Ratchet & Clank Trilogy is a game that’s made from the ground up for two kinds of people, the people that never got a chance to play the original trilogy the first time they were released and the people that did play them, loved them and want to play them again in high definition. Both sets of people aren’t going to be disappointed with The Ratchet & Clank Trilogy. If you’ve played some of the more recent Ratchet & Clank games though, and haven’t really liked them (which, if that’s the case, then you’re probably dead inside anyway) then you’re not going to find anything that will sweep you off of your feet with this collection. It’s fan service at its best and you won’t find me complaining about that.