GAME NAME: The Ratchet and Clank Trilogy
DEVELOPER(S): Insomniac Games, Mass Media inc
PLATFORM(S): PS Vita
GENRE(S): Action, Platformer
RELEASE DATE(S): July 2nd, 2014
The Ratchet and Clank (RnC) series has become one of Insomniac Games and Sony’s most successful franchises over the years. There’s even a RnC movie set to be released next year. So it comes without any surprise that we’d see a Ratchet and Clank Trilogy eventually be released on PS Vita following the likes of Jak and Daxter and Sly Cooper. Having played the games back in the PS2 era, being given the chance to re-live my childhood via the PS Vita is a dream come true.
The Ratchet and Clank Trilogy contains the 3 numbered entries in the saga. Ratchet and Clank, Ratchet and Clank 2: Going Commando and Ratchet and Clank 3. The Ratchet and Clank franchise is actually rather old now with the first game having been released a whopping 12 years ago (Damn, I feel old) and as such, the quality of the 3 games in the Trilogy vastly differs.
Ratchet and Clank, for those who don’t know, tells the tale of a Lombax and his trusty robotic sidekick Clank, as they face off against various nefarious forces of evil in an interstellar and intergalactic adventure featuring lots of humour, platforming and combat gameplay. With the series having over 9 main entries so far, the RnC Trilogy focuses on the roots of the saga, the first 3 games, and as such, PS2 era gameplay quality needs to be taken into consideration.
This is particularly noticeable in Ratchet and Clank 1. The game’s camera controls feel incredibly stiff and there are various design choices that over the years have become redundant or streamlined immensely to make the games more enjoyable. One of these design choices is the fact that you often have to backtrack between planets and the same areas all over again to accomplish certain objectives. In the latter games, this is far less noticeable since the overall gameplay regions are larger and there’s a lot more variation to the formula to keep it fresh.
The control scheme in RnC 1 is pretty straightforward but feels slightly sub par and difficult to handle when things get chaotic. This in addition to the frustratingly stiff camera control makes the game a lot harder than it should be. Fortunately though, the same cannot be said about RnC 2 and RnC 3. The camera controls improve greatly in those games and so does the general gaming experience in tow.
Being a platformer with combat elements, the addition of uniquely zany weapons and crazy puzzle solving gadgets to the games makes for a very entertaining series. Ratchet and Clank 2, in particular, makes a huge jump in this regard and is by far one of the most enjoyable games I have ever played, both on the Ps2 back in the day and once again now on PS Vita in this Trilogy. RnC 3 is also by no means a slouch, but I feel as if the jump in quality you experience from going from RnC 1 to 2 makes it that much more enjoyable.
With the Trilogy being on PS Vita, some sort of dedicated touchscreen and touchpad controls would have been highly appreciated, but the games make extremely little use of this. Hover boarding in RnC 1 while using the rear touchpad is almost impossibly hard to control and will take a LOT of getting used to. It’s slightly disappointing that the developers didn’t utilize the touchscreen to greater effect. For example, it would have been amazing if it allowed players to switch weapons on the go, especially during chaotic battles… but alas, this isn’t the case. Another strangely missing feature is the multiplayer from RnC 3. On the go multiplayer battles might have been quite fun had they been included in the game. Though with the PS Vita’s 3G version being discontinued, I suppose it makes sense for the developers to not include it.
Graphically, the Trilogy has very few breathtakingly awesome moments, but it has a certain polish to it that cannot be denied given the age of these games. The only gripe I have with the graphics is that the cinematic cut-scenes are pulled straight from the PS2 version of the games and, as such, look incredibly dated when compared to the games themselves. I can understand the design choice to use the original source material, but it’s just painful to experience that jump in quality every now and then during the games.
The best part for me about the Trilogy is the fact that the PS Vita is perfectly suited for these games. The ability to just pick up and play the games for a couple of minutes in between doing work or attending class is perfect and takes away a lot of the frustration and annoyance one would feel at some of the earlier and harder puzzle elements in the saga. Ratchet and Clank has a fond place in my heart and the Trilogy on PS Vita, while not being 100% perfect, delivers a solid gameplay experience with at least a minimum of 40 hours of gameplay across the 3 games in total. Despite its flaws, I highly recommend purchasing this Trilogy, especially if you haven’t played the games during the PS2 era.