Just when it seemed Sony mascots Ratchet and Clank had gone the way of Bubsy and Q*bert, they have suddenly made it bigger than ever before. Not only are the snide, heat-packing lombax and his gadget-handy robotic assistant headlining their first PS4 game, they also hae a movie coming to theaters April 29. Whether the film is any good remains to be seen, but it’s exciting to see developer Insomniac Games bringing the duo back in style in the Ratchet & Clank game, with breathless, clever platforming.
Game: Ratchet & Clank
Consoles: PS4 (reviewed)
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Developer: Insomniac Games
Release Date: April 12
Everything from Ratchet and Clank’s lengthy PS2 and PS3 past gets tossed aside in favor of a clean reboot. The story starts off before the duo had even met, with Ratchet roaming intergalactic wilderness while Clank is penned up in a techno-prison. The first few levels alternate between the characters’ separate stories, giving you a feel for the capabilities of both characters on their own before you combine their talents. Even though this is a fresh start for the franchise, just about everything in the game is familiar, at least by feel. You’re still racking up an arsenal of wacky weapons, bashing boxes to fuel up on currency you can spend on upgrades, and navigating narrative-twisting levels that make you think on your feet.
Insomniac keeps things lively by tossing in constant change-ups that challenge you to come up with new ways to act and react. Although the game is linear, the levels within are sprawling and varied. One minute you will be patrolling a rolling countryside, double-jumping your way across rotating platfroms, the next you’ll be strategically tossing bombs through grates inside a cramped-quarters network, only to find yourself suddenly running toward the camera as a giant mech chases you down with lasers and grenades. And just when you’re wiping the sweat off your brow to take in the next story-advancing cut-scene, your hurled into a new challenge too intriguing to let you save the game and walk away.
It’s no surprise that this is by far the best-looking Ratchet & Clank game yet by a longshot. The PS3 titles, such as Ratchet & Clank Future and Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One approached Pixar-level visuals, but this game evenly matches the detail and animations of movies to such a degree that it will be impossible to tell the difference between screenshots of the game or film. Controls have always been a high point of the series, and the game plays just as well on the PS4 as you’d expect. Insomniac took full advantage of the PS4’s guts to keep the frenzied action at a smooth clip. Co-op integration would have been nice, but it’s nowhere to be seen. Since the focus is squarely on single-player in this outing, there is no opportunity to bring a friend along for the ride, which seems like a step backward after All 4 One.
Ratchet & Clank is a throwback to the types of games Sony built its brand on when it was first making its way into the industry. Some gamers dismiss platformers as kid stuff, but those who give a shot to the best of what the genre has to offer, like this one, will find that they can still be as fun as they ever were. By keeping the play styles lively and varied, Insomniac does all it can to revitalize not only the series, but the genre as a whole. Even though the game lacks multiplayer, it’s priced to move at $40, making it a tempting buy for any devoted PS4 gamer looking for something fresh to chew on before killer app Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End drops next month. There are worse ways to pass that time.
Ratchet & Clank Reviews Around The Web:
“The pace of combat is faster and the enemies move faster, too. Instead of throwing lots of aggressors at you, Dark Souls III prefers to confront you with individually challenging opponents.” –Kotaku
“I can honestly say that the mixing bowl of Bloodborne and Souls elements in the Undead Settlement made for fantastic exploration.” –Game Informer
“From Software increased its diversity of enemies, environments, and dangerous situations to an even higher degree with the first few hours of its next outing.” –GameSpot
Ratchet & Clank Screenshots
The publisher provided a review copy.