A re-imagining to coincide with a movie.
Movie tie-in games are a touchy subject, mostly because the majority are just not that great. However, things get more complicated when the game is based on a movie, which is based on a game. Yeah, read it again slowly. Insomniac’s latest Ratchet & Clank game, the first on this current generation of consoles, is based around the new Ratchet & Clank animated movie. The movie itself is based on the original Ratchet & Clank game, from all of those years ago. So this latest title is based around the original game, but has its differences, making it a re-imagining rather than just a remake. Whatever it is, there is no denying that Ratchet & Clank on PS4 is a thoroughly enjoyable game.
Part action platformer, part third-person shooter, and even a little dose of RPG stuff thrown in there, the Ratchet & Clank games have been a console mainstay for many years. This new Ratchet & Clank game will feel comfortable to the fans of the series, bringing a lot of what made the older games so enjoyable with it. But what may well make even the hardened fans stare open-mouthed at the screen, are the visuals.
The cut scenes, which are taken from the new movie, are understandably impressive. But even the playable parts are something to behold. The whole thing has an animated movie feel about it, with such an incredible level of polish that really does suggest that Ratchet & Clank is one of the best looking games on the PS4 right now. The varied backdrops are beautiful, the levels are incredibly detailed and the animated characters all come to life with colourful ease.
The story, which I won’t spoil here but explains the origins of our heroic team, is another high point. Packed full of humour, a lot of which revolves around the ever self-important Captain Qwark, the game offers the type of tale that is perfect for family-friendly gameplay.
But the gameplay is where the game really shines. Taking on the role of Ratchet, or occasionally the little robot known as Clank, players will find themselves running around pretty expansive and varied environments. These environments are often littered with imaginative bad guys to defeat, hidden areas or items which may not be accessible until later in the game, and things to smash to find bolts. Bolts are the main currency in the game, allowing the player to purchase new and unusual weapons. The lite platforming is smooth and not too taxing, with the emphasis being more on combat.
The combat is also nice and smooth, and will come naturally to anyone who has played a previous Ratchet & Clank title. What makes it more interesting is the variety of weapons that the player can access. The strange weapons have become something of a signature in the more recent games, and this latest doesn’t disappoint. Starting simply with Ratchet’s oversized spanner thing and a basic gun, collect some bolts and the player will soon be able to unleash all manner of chaos with weapons that might cause everyone to start dancing, or ones that will change the enemies into 8-bit versions of themselves. Really, the strange and unusual weapons are the perfect reason to try and collect every single bolt that the game has to offer.There are also upgrades available for Ratchet and Clank themselves as the game progresses, offering new abilities and improvements to further open up the game and make life easier.
Raritanium is another collectible that has a use in the game. The wild and wonderful weapons don’t have to stay as you buy them, and Raritanium is the currency needed to upgrade them and improve their effectiveness in combat. The system is quite deep, allowing the player to tweak their weapons in many ways and to suit whatever they are aiming for.
The standard levels are brilliant fun, but the game occasionally mixes things up to keep it feeling fresh. As is common in this genre, there are boss fights to deal with, none of which are too difficult. The times when you play as Clank offer a change of pace, which is a good thing, and are just as enjoyable. In fact, the pacing through the game is very well done, not only engaging the player fully, but also keeping them guessing as to what is coming next. Whether it be hoverboard racing, grinding on rails or piloting a spaceship, there is always something slightly different to challenge the player.
The 3D action platformer may have all but died out, but Insomniac have proved that there is a place for this genre on the modern consoles. Ratchet & Clank has a wonderfully retro feel, casting the player back to a time when you couldn’t move for a new 3D action platformer, but it still feels relevant today with wonderful gameplay and beautiful visuals. More than just a remaster, Ratchet & Clank on PS4 is a reboot for a much loved genre, and an incredibly fun game.