The PlayStation 2 era was a good era for video games, developers and consumers in general. Year after year stellar games would grace the console from the likes of Grand Theft Auto to Tony Hawk, those were the good times. However it was the exclusive titles on the console which caught a lot of attention. Gran Turismo, Metal Gear and Resident Evil were the main grabbers of the generation, but it was a series started up by Insomniac that got the cult going. The Ratchet & Clank series took audiences by storm on the PS2 and led to its existence in both the next gen on the PlayStation 3 and several spin-offs on Sony’s various platforms. The year is 2012 and with many of Sony’s franchises seeing HD re-masters it’s now Ratchet’s turn to go under the 1080p wand and shift its gear on to a Blu-Ray disc.
The Ratchet & Clank HD Collection comes to PS3 with all the benefits you would expect, 1080p resolution, 60 frames per second, trophies, 3D support, and so forth and although it doesn't quite hit these heights on PS Vita, each of these attributes lends themselves well to keep the package altogether on both systems. The collection also represents Sony’s commitment to first party quality, each game in the collection looks great and players should have no qualms about this being a shoddy re-master compared to other HD collections on the market.
This collection contains Ratchet & Clank, Ratchet & Clank 2: Locked & Loaded, and Ratchet & Clank 3: Up Your Arsenal. Ratchet & Clank sees the two unlikely heroes on a mission to save the galaxy from the villainous Drek as he attempts to destroy other planets so he gets parts to make his own. From there the next two games sees the continuation of the series as the two characters become heroes in the galaxy. Each game has a compelling story and also has a lot of fun within. Each game contains its fair share of banter, wit, laughs and general slapstick comedy, it’s what made the games so great on the PS2 right? Characters are funny and make sense and show off Insomniac’s general crazy ideas when it comes to creating characters. You’ll come across crazy inventors who fit the usual stereotype as well as archetypal villains that look and sound the part.
However the main draw of the Ratchet series is of course the gameplay. Smashing crates and collecting bolts is the series benefactor. Whilst playing through the game resisting the urge to smash every box and collect every bolt is a very hard one. It gives off a great sense of satisfaction when you whack open a crate of bolt and see them hurtling toward you adding to your already sumptuous amount in the top right corner. Undeniably the series is known for its collective weapon design. The game features some of the most creative weapons seen. From the bomb glove to the suck cannon each of the three games has a unique weapon about it.
A sense of achievement is also there on display in each game. As you trudge across the planets in the galaxy you’re rewarded with weapons and gadgets. In a Pokemon sense you’ve got to collect them all. The feeling of getting a gadget or a new weapon however makes up for the somewhat and some cases sweat and tears you shed getting there. Each game doesn’t make it easy to get the reward and lends itself to some of the bad points of each of the three games.
The checkpoint system in all three titles is an issue. From time to time you’ll be on a planet battling your way through countless enemies and foes only for the game to get a cheap shot on you and make you die or fall off a ledge due to a slight carelessness. The sight of seeing a story progressing character or new weapon gives you a sense of relief which soon turns to anger when you’re either pile drived by a group of enemies or shot of the edge of a ledge by a gunship when the end’s in sight. The game has its pull your hair out moments and can frustrate at times. The main chunk of this will happen in the first Ratchet & Clank game as the sequels have a better checkpoint system in place as well as improved combat to help fight these scenarios.
As you play across the trilogy you’ll notice that in the two sequels the formula has been changed a bit. As you play weapons and your character gain experience and eventually level up. In our experience the weapons levelled up quickly and we found ourselves having the urge to stick to our Blitz gun and all its various upgrades. In the end it comes down to the player whether they change weapon on a regular basis but it’s hard to leave a gun that disposes of enemies without a whimper for a new weapon that only executes 2-3 enemies at a time.
There are many positives to take from each game and as you play through them the overall polish of the series becomes evident and shows Insomniac’s confidence in the series and the genre. Everything from the first game onwards gets fine tuned and tweaked to offer a greater experience over the previous titles. Each game in the collection needed it as the core gameplay values of the game stay the same from title to title. The main objective and what you’ll be doing mostly unless you’re a collectible hoarder is to explore the planet, collect bolts, beat any enemies that come in your way, solve puzzles, get rewarded for your efforts with a gadget or weapon, back to your ship to blast off to another planet. The formula doesn’t get old and each game does shake it up by having restricted areas that are only accessible by having a gadget or item that becomes available later in the game. There are other side bits and bobs to do in each game such as a endurance area where you defeat enemies to get some bolts, or playing Captain Quarks 2D platformer. Each side mission does well to detract from the basing of the square or circle button.
As mentioned above on PS3 at least, each game in the series boasts 1080p resolution, 60 frames per second, trophies, and 3D support. That being said, the collection doesn’t completely come in 1080p as some segments of each game come in the 4:3 aspect and it does somewhat bring you out of the experience. Thankfully it is only limited to cut scenes and very few at that in each game. The 1080p visuals however are a treat to look at the the cartoonish style of the game lends itself well to being remastered in HD, if anything Ratchet & Clank 3 benefits the most from the HD bump and by far looks the best of the three games.
After playing all three games it’s hard not to appreciate what the game has to offer however frustrating some aspects become. The creative weapon design, combat, and platforming are compelling to say the least and bring a great gaming experience to those new to the series and even those who may have played it before.
Words by Ash Buchanan.
(Version tested: PS3/PS Vita)
+ Creative Weapons
+ Fun Gameplay
+ Looks great on PS Vita
+ Cross Buy compatible with PS3 and PS Vita+ Creative Weapons
- Checkpoint system can be an issue
*This review was originally our PS3 review for this game, however we are happy that the words also ring true for the PS Vita version too.