The Ratchet & Clank Trilogy/Ratchet & Clank Collection
Developers: Insomniac Games, Idol Minds
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Platform: Playstation 3
Release Date: 28/06/2012 (AUS), 28/08/2012 (US)
Price: US$29.96/AU$49.95 (Available Here)
Ratchet and Clank debuted on the Playstation 2 all the way back in 2002. Now, ten years later and after a highly successful franchise behind them, they have returned, with their first three adventures available in HD, all on one disk. Ratchet and Clank is a series that was missed during my days of the Playstation 2, so this is the first time I have undertaken this experience. Insomniac Games should be well applauded for their effort, as the successfully combine 3D platforming and third person action in one defining package. Or have they?
While Ratchet & Clank is a trilogy, each game features their own separate story. While most of you will already know what the stories are, some may not, so here is a recap of each of them. In Ratchet & Clank, Ratchet is in the middle of fixing his ship when another crashes on his homeworld of Veldin. Ratchet finds in the wreckage a small robot. He names him Clank. Clank proceeds to show an infobot to Ratchet. It contains a recording of Chairman Drek of the Blarg race revealing that, due to overpopulation and pollution on his race’s homeworld, they will take bits of other worlds to create a new one. It is up to Ratchet and Clank to save those worlds from Chairman Drek’s hands.
In Ratchet and Clank 2, both Ratchet and Clank are now celebrities for saving the universe. However, as time passes over their victory, the universe begins to become peaceful again, which doesn’t excite the duo. During a taping of Behind the Hero, the duo are transported to the Bogon Galaxy. This is where they meet Abercrombie Fizzwidget, the founder and CEO of Megacorp. He reveals that an Experiment was stolen by a thief. He asks Ratchet to find the thief and retrieve the Experience. After a wild goose chase over the galaxy, he succeeds, but not all is what it seems.
Ratchet and Clank 3 brings the duo into a galactic war. After discovering that Ratchet’s homeworld Veldin is under attack, the duo help out in defending the planet. The enemy turns out to be Dr. Nefarious robotic entity that wants to destroy all organic life forms, so Ratchet is in the firing line. His commands an army of Tyhrranoids, who attack various points in the galaxy. After defending Veldin, Ratchet and Clank learn that there is someone who defeated Dr. Nefarious before. That turns out to be Captain Quark, who tried to hinder the two in previous games. With his help, the duo must defeat Dr. Nefarious before he becomes too powerful.
All three stories have the same basic structure. Ratchet and Clank are the heroes and they must stop the bad guy. The second game does change it a bit with a small twist and three introduces Quark as a good guy rather than the bad guy the duo are accustomed to. With that said, the stories are in face quite good and enjoyable. Sometimes the best thing is to keep the story simple. It is fantastic and gives motivation for what the duo undertake. The characters are also fleshed out, given believable personalities that suit each character.
There is one core gameplay mechanic that has defined Ratchet & Clank. That has to be the combination of 3D platforming and action, more specifically, shooter action. From the humble beginnings to the third adventure, it is nice to see how this core mechanic had evolved. To be honest, there was nothing wrong with the platforming action in fact. It is and always will be fun. Of course, there will be frustrating moments, like when one might not make it over a gap, but it isn’t because of controls or the camera. Most of the time, any fault that happens in the game is because of the player, which is what a game is suppose to do. Clank is useful here, as he allows Ratchet to jump higher or further with his Heli-Pack upgrade. In the other two games, this is upgrade to include boosters found on aircraft.
Of course, the platforming isn’t the only core mechanic found in Ratchet & Clank. Combat is more action-oriented, which complements the platforming style of Ratchet & Clank. Players will have a choice of weapons as they progress through each game. Using those weapons, players can blast their enemies out of existence. For those who prefer close combat that ranged, then Ratchet is equipped with the “Omniwrench 8000”. With that said, just going close combat is a disadvantage. The ranged weapons are not just there, they are a necessity.
The amount of ranged weapons in each game is numerous. These range from normal blasters to gravity bombs that can contain acid. Lasers, shotguns and even mini-robots all feature as weapons in the game. From Ratchet and Clank 2, the weapons would grow in power with constant use. A small bar would be present underneath the ammo count. As that bar fills completely, the weapon in question will be upgraded. Ratchet and Clank 2 only featured one upgrade, while the third used multiple levels, with features such as locking onto the enemy given to the weapons.
Of course, weapons don’t come cheap, so that is where bolts come in. Bolts are the universal currency of the universe. Players can use bolts to obtain weapons and gadgets from vendors scattered across the worlds. The Gadgetron vendors are the most common and will sell the weapons, bar a few. For the other useful gadgets, there will be inventors and salesmen scattered throughout the planets. They will offer useful gadgets for a price. They are not set too unrealistic, though, so it is easy for the player to obtain them. The bolts in question are usually found in crates or as reward for killing the enemy. Ammo is also found in crates, so the player can save all those bolts when they need it the most. Health, in the form on nanotech, is also found in crates, but they are not as numerous as bolt and ammo crates.
Ratchet isn’t the only playable character in the game. In some sections of the game, players will get the chance to control Clank. Clank doesn’t have access to weapons or doesn’t have the platforming abilities of his bigger partner. It doesn’t mean he isn’t useful. To compensate, Clank is given control of Gadgebots. The Gadgetbots will follow, wait, attack an enemy or enter a station to open doors. In the other games, certain Gadgebots will be more specific to other tasks, such as building a bridge. This is a fantastic compensation for Clank and it gives him a controlling role, as he is support to Ratchet during the gameplay sections. What is also great is that Clank’s sections are beneficial to the game. He will stumble on gadgets or useful information.
Outside of the main game, each Ratchet and Clank game offer mini-games for the player to enjoy. They are usually found while exploring the different planets. Some of these mini-games are required for the story. One of the most common is hoverboard racing. It is required for some missions to complete, but the other races are great if you need the extra bolts. All of the mini-games act like this. Yet, they are quite fun. The rewards for winning these games do not cheat the player. The amount of bolts given is quite healthy, helping players to their goal, which would be that new shiny weapon or gadget. Even Ratchet and Clank 3’s multiplayer is functional over the Playstation Network.
Visuals & Audio
All three Ratchet and Clank games all benefit the upgrade to HD visuals. Environments are more vibrant than their PS2 counterparts. Each character model looks much better. They are sharp, vibrant and well-designed. Animations are smooth and there is no noticeable drop in frame rate. Even the first game, the oldest of the three, benefits the upgrade. The same can’t be said for cutscenes, as they look like they have been pulled out of the PS2 games. The art style of the game offers the developers a fantastic way to bring the graphics up a notch. It is par to that of one of the most recent Ratchet and Clank games: All 4 One. The soundtrack is awesome as well as the sound effects. Voice acting is good as well. The audio were untouched.
There is no way any Ratchet and Clank fan will miss this out. In fact, if you have never played these fantastic games, then it is time to purchase this HD collection. The charm of the characters, the stories, the audio and the gameplay have been left as it should, offering both excellent platforming and shooting experiences. The visual upgrade is down to how the art style complements it, with environments telling their own story. Add in what Sony Computer Entertainment usually add in these HD collections (Trophies, 3D) and this is one HD collection that is worth every bolt in the known (and unknown) galaxy.