Playing Ratchet and Clank on the Playstation 4 was a much needed breath of fresh air. I can’t remember the last time I played a Playstation 4 exclusive which brought me such pleasure and joy from start to finish.
Promoting itself as both a reimagining of the 2002 Playstation 2 classic and tie in to the upcoming film release, I feel it’s only natural to start off this review by gawping over the real draw of the game, and that’s the absolutely sublime visuals. Ratchet and Clank will leave your mouth gaping once you lay your eyes on the gorgeous graphics. As soon as you begin the game, it’s impossible not to notice how vibrant and cartoon like the game worlds are presented to you. This game certainly has no difficulty standing out from the overcrowded landscape of dreary and brown games we’ve all become accustomed to.
Once the game has introduced you into the so-so story featuring cut scenes taken directly from the animated film, it’s straight into business as usual. You play as Ratchet, an adorable, furry wombat creature who has an even more adorable robot friend called Clank who’s always attached to Ratchet’s back, except when he’s off adventuring on his own, but more on that later. What’s immediately clear is how endearing these characters are, helped thanks to the likeable banter between the two. A noteworthy mention must go to another supporting character, Captain Qwark who provided often genuinely hilarious dialogue.
If you’ve never played a game in the franchise before, it’s essentially a third person shooter combined with some light platforming. Whilst the platforming aspects won’t give a certain Italian plumber a run for his money, it’s still nice just to have some aspects of the genre in the game. Is it so much to ask for more 3d platformers please? There is another genre of game found on a surprising couple of levels that could give a famous Nintendo franchise a run for its money, but I won’t reveal any spoilers here. Within the game, you fly to various planets hoping to complete all manner of objectives presented to you. The planets are all varied enough to be memorable, and can range from tropical vistas with stunning waterfalls, or desert landscapes with huge deadly chasms. Once you land on a planet, the third person shooting action kicks in as swarms of enemies head towards you. As you’re blasting away, you’re able to strafe from side to side to avoid enemy fire, jump around, or even use a jetpack on specific levels to float and avoid the danger. It can quite often get rather frantic on screen as hundreds of bullets are unloaded, and collectable bolts are scattered everywhere. Despite the cartoon visuals, the game can present a meaty challenge if you’re not paying enough attention.
What makes Ratchet really stand out from the crowd are the weapons you get to use. The franchise is infamous for them, and this entry does not disappoint. They are more often than not rather comical, such as the Groovitron which causes any of the enemies to dance, or the Pixelizer that turns enemies into 8-bit sprites, together with the appropriate sound effects. One of my personal favourite moments from the game was when I comically used the Groovitron on a boss fight, causing the big brute to suddenly start breakdancing mid-battle. My favourite weapon though had to be the fan favourite Mr Zurkon, a loyal and deadly robot who follows you everywhere shooting whatever happens to be in-front of him, all the while dishing out quirps such as, “Mr Zurkon is bored”. All the weapons can be upgraded via a menu screen once you’ve found some in-game Raritanium. Collecting this rare and elusive material helps add on extra ammo, damage and other assorted perks to whatever weapon you choose. You can also assign four weapons of your choice from the large selection to each of the dpad directions for ease of use.
The game excels in keeping you constantly entertained. Each planet is essentially a bite sized chunk which takes roughly half an hour to explore, so you’re never given a chance to get bored as you mostly do different things on each planet. A particular highlight is grinding along rails at top speed, jumping from rail to rail as you avoid objects coming towards you, or even partaking in some hoverboard racing. As mentioned earlier, another section involves taking control of Clank on his own. When this occurs, he solves some light puzzles by using miniature little robots who each have their own unique capabilities such as turning into spring platforms, or turning themselves into bridges over unpassable walkways. On some occasions you have to run towards the screen whilst being chased by a boss which is a nice homage to Crash Bandicoot.
If I’m being honest, I would say these were my least favourite part of the game. They’re not as fun as all the things you get to do as Ratchet, and really affect the pacing of the game. There’s also another frustrating type of puzzle in the game where you have to use a tool named the trespasser to get through certain doors. Here you have to solve a tedious and boring brain teaser involving lining up lights on a circle. Luckily, you can skip them if you desire, but you’re advised not to if you want to get the platinum trophy.
For all you completionists, the game has 28 secret gold bolts to find which when doing so, unlock various in-game extras and cheats. There’s also a huge collection of holodeck cards to find which can open up more weapon perks once a full set has been complete. The game takes roughly around ten hours to finish, and once doing so a challenge mode opens which asks you to replay the game again on a harder difficulty, but with the opportunity to unlock even better bonuses for your weapons.
Overall Ratchet and Clank is one of those rare games that come along and remind you why you fell in love with games in the first place. It’s joyful, fun and just a sheer blast to play. Also, by the time you’re reading this it will have been confirmed that Ratchet and Clank got to number one in the UK Charts within opening week. Congratulations all at Imsomniac!
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