Ratchet and Clank Review

April 26, 2016

The Ratchet and Clank series has had a colourful history. Since the first entry was released in 2002 on PS2, the series has enjoyed continued success and has firmly established itself as one of Sony’s trademark franchises. With the Ratchet and Clank movie on the horizon, developer Insomniac Games has had the opportunity to revisit the first game and change character origins, levels and tweak everything else inbetween.

At first glance the story hasn’t changed. Players are introduced to Ratchet, a young Lombax  who is working as a mechanic on the planet Veldin. One day he encounters a robot named Clank who warns him that the Blarg nation, helmed by Chairman Drek, has an evil plan to destroy planets and use their scattered pieces to create a new home world. New to the story is the sub-plot of Ratchet wishing to become a Galactic Ranger, which leads to the duo joining and undertaking missions for the group. Captain Qwark also has a larger role, now acting as both a commentator for Ratchet and Clank’s adventure and the commander of the Galactic Rangers. As a whole the world feels more fleshed out – the Blarg threat has a more prominent presence, there are new side characters who add to the plot rather than just give random side quests, and there are various hints at future Ratchet and Clank installments (Protopet anyone?).

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Anyone familiar with the Ratchet and Clank games will be right at home with the level design. Most levels consist of branching, linear pathways that lead to an objective. Players must work their way through by solving minor puzzles, grinding rails and blowing up every enemy in sight. The reboot is a love letter to the series by taking the refinements that have been made over the years. The hookshot and swingshot for instance, used to be separate gadgets but were slowly streamlined as the series went on. Now these are combined into Ratchet’s wrench and are unlocked right from the beginning. Many past gadgets and weapons also return, including fan favourites Mr Zurkon, the Warmonger and Rip You a New One (RYNO). Following the footsteps of later entries, weapons also feature a leveling up system and skill tree that increases damage, ammo capacity, rate of fire, etc. While it’s great the game has kept the tried and true formula, at times it feels Insomniac Games has played it safe. There’s little new here which hasn’t already been accomplished in the past.

The game’s levels have been rebuilt from the ground up, offering an interesting blend of nostalgia and new elements to discover. For example, the planet Novalis has the same layout and design as the original game, but now has improved visuals and more enemies that appear on screen at once. Meanwhile, the robot processing plant on Quartu has been completely overhauled. The factory is mostly an inside area now, with lots of Clank-only sections and a huge multi-level warehouse where an all-new boss battle takes place. Some levels have been cut completely and new levels not only take their place, but also serve as a better point for story progression. It’s fun to explore old ground and see what changes have been implemented, while also exploring the new planets the game has to offer. There’s something here for veterans and newcomers alike.

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Like most platformers, Ratchet and Clank features a number of collectibles including the series staple Gold Bolts and the all new Holocards. Gold Bolts are hidden in each level and unlock aesthetic changes to the game such as screen filters and character colour schemes, as well as concept art and game altering cheats. The Holocards are hidden in levels and are also randomly dropped by defeated enemies. These contain mini-biographies of characters and weapons, and unlock Omega versions of weapons for use in the game’s Challenge Mode. Unfortunately the series’ Skill Point challenges have been removed, likely due to the fact that Sony’s Trophy system has made the feature redundant. The collectibles offer hours of replay value and will definitely appeal to completionists.

When the Ratchet and Clank reboot was first announced, many were amazed at how closely the game resembled the upcoming CGI film it’s based on. The cutscenes are a combination of footage from the film and pre-rendered scenes, and the two often seamlessly switch between each other and look almost identical in quality. The in-game visuals are also up to the same standard – everything is vibrant, beautiful and carefully animated. Dozens of enemies appear on screen at once, with only occasional frame rate drops noticeable when there are lots of explosions happening. It’s an accomplishment that demonstrates the fine talent at Insomniac Games. The game also features a range of orchestral themes, and while beautifully played they aren’t exactly catchy like previous games and are quickly forgotten.

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While Insomniac Games have largely gone the safe route with the rebooted Ratchet and Clank, it’s still a fun game that will appeal to both old and new fans alike. The visuals are gorgeous, the gameplay retains the tried and true formula of past entries, the story has been fleshed out and levels have been rebuilt from the ground up. It’s a testament to the fine talent at Insomniac Games and is a love letter to the series as a whole.


Beautiful visuals
Lots of collectibles
Fleshed out story


Minor frame rate drops
A safe reboot that doesn't break new ground

Overall Score: