New Zealand writer Michael Gray takes a tour of some old favourites as he returns to a not so distant youth with Ratchet and Clank on the PS3… in HD.
HD remakes are appearing thick and fast these days, as a man familiar with this dynamic duo Michael Gray is willing and able to find out if that HD sexiness was worth the effort.
Disappointed by Insomniac’s foray into four player co-op it’s good to see a return to the ‘classics’. Yes you may have played a gazillion and one Ratchet & Clank games by now, but these are the three PlayStation 2 games that started it all.
Ratchet & Clank
The game that kicked off the series (the idea originates from Insomniac’s cancelled project: Girl with a Stick). I first played Ratchet & Clank as a demo that came with our family’s PS2. As with Insomniac’s Spyro series, I was more a Naughty Dog fan and stuck with the Crash Bandicoots and the Jak and Daxters. Eventually I realised I was being biased for no apparent reason and so I picked up R&C. If I recall correctly it became my first game review. A review where I noted the ‘delicious environments’ and ‘loveable tones’. I hope my use of hyperbole has diminished since then.
Ratchet & Clank introduced us to the Lombax mechanic and the robot backpack — a duo that might remind you of Nintendo 64 favourite, Banjo-Kazooie — as well as the aloof super hero Captain Qwark. The main villain is completely unmemorable and upon playing it again I was expecting to bump into Dr. Nefarious but he doesn’t crop up until the third game.
Ratchet & Clank 2
On my travels to and from uni I picked up the last two games at The Gamesman on Lambton Quay in Wellington. RIP Gamesman.
As well as sporting new duds R&C2 was a lot more polished than its predecessor. Insomniac figured out what worked and made it better. Which most importantly meant the guns.
Now the guns gather experience and level up. The more you use a weapon the faster it’ll level.
If I forgot to mention it earlier I’ll say it now, the guns are what makes Ratchet & Clank different to other platformers. And it really does work pretty well. There might be too many guns to choose from as you get later into it, but you’ll have your go-to’s and your only-for-special-occasions’.
Ratchet & Clank 3
I mostly recall this game for its multiplayer. Oh fun times were had between my siblings and I in three-player split-screen. Such a contrast to All 4 One today. The multiplayer was a mish mash of capturing bases and piloting vehicles, not too unlike Battlefield. I’m happy to say the online is functioning in the trilogy pack. Whether or not people play it is another question. Right now there seems to be a good crowd of people present.
Three also marks the first appearance of Secret Agent Clank (really just a fictional James Bond version of Clank) and Dr. Nefarious, a creepy yet loveable alien/robot with gears in his head.
The Trilogy Re-Release
The three Ratchet games each have Trophy collections if you’re into that sort of thing. 3D support is there for the folks that like to look a little crazy in front of their TVs.
Again like The Jak and Daxter trilogy, objects and characters do look a lot smoother. But the HD-ifying doesn’t really fix blurry HUDs or menus. The cut-scenes are only 4:3, no widescreen. And the occasional ground or character texture might be jarring. It doesn’t make it unplayable, just a little unsightly.
If you managed to catch all the PS3 Ratchet games and you still can’t get enough, here’s one more for the collection. Just be wary that the games have come a long way. The first Ratchet & Clank came out about ten years ago!
As for myself I enjoyed the games late in the PS2’s life cycle, so not enough time has passed for me to warrant a thorough replay. But it’s great to see how the series develops as Insomniac gets more comfortable with its world and characters.