GAME NAME: The Ratchet and Clank Trilogy
DEVELOPER(S): Insomniac Games
GENRE(S): Action, Platformer
RELEASE DATE(S): 29 June 2012
The current trend of re-releasing HD compilations of beloved PS2 franchises has been greeted with roughly even amounts of joy and disappointment. Some are lazy representations of their former selves (the horrible Silent Hill HD Collection comes to mind) while others have been lovingly remastered to a blinding sheen, like the God of War Collection. The latest franchise to get the HD treatment is Insomniac Games’ The Ratchet and Clank Trilogy (remastered by developer Idol Minds) and – for the vast majority of it – this is a fantastic collection of ports that serve to highlight the solid foundation of gameplay mechanics crafted by Insomniac Games.
The trilogy includes the now 10-years-old Ratchet and Clank, its sequel Ratchet and Clank 2: Locked and Loaded, rounding it off with Ratchet and Clank: Up Your Arsenal. The first game in the series introduces us to Ratchet as he struggles to find a missing part to fix his broken-down spaceship. Enter Clank – a robot with a heart on a mission to save the galaxy – as he inadvertently stumbles upon Ratchet’s plight. So begins a partnership that has formed the basis for many planet-hopping adventures. Having almost equal parts combat and action, the game balances these elements with the constant acquisition of new weaponry or gadgets, which open up more possibilities or previously unreachable sections within the game. Currency comes in the form of Bolts, acquired by smashing crates – an action that becomes decidedly more addictive than it has any right to be – and can be spent at shops that populate each level you’ll go through.
Locked and Loaded and Up Your Arsenal both feature a few new additions – like the ability to strafe in the former and online multiplayer for the latter – but each iteration goes on to slightly favour the combat elements more to its platforming counterpart. Platforming was never the series’ strong point with mechanics that, while completely serviceable, seems to lack proper weight when executing a jump, but the combat sections are undoubtedly Insomniac Games’ strength, where they perfected the balance of weaponry. Before the inventive weapons Insomniac Games crafted for its Resistance series they had been honing their skills with the completely outlandish but oh-so-satisfying weaponry found in the R&C universe. Playing through these games again highlights the creativity and fun that went into designing them. Turning menacing enemies into fluffy little sheep evokes the kind of light-hearted charm and zaniness the series is known for, all while delivering extremely solid third-person shooter experiences.
Progression and story structure remain very similar across the three games. It’s always well written, with returning colorful characters like cowardly-hero Captain Quark and the evil Dr Nefarious. The games still run at a buttery smooth 60 frames per second, and while some textures may betray the origins of these titles, the bright colours and wonderful art direction more than make up for it and look fantastic displayed in 1080p. There’s also the option to play all three games in 3D (at the expense of the frame rate), and perhaps the only negative that can be aimed at this collection is the display of cut-scenes in 4:3 and at a lower resolution – something that’s especially jarring in-between the 16:9 HD gameplay sections.
This is undoubtedly one of the better HD ports out there and a must-own whether you’re a fan of the franchise or completely new to it. Playing through all three games back-to-back might be overkill – especially if you’ve recently played any of the PS3 games – but played at a leisurely pace and interspersed with other titles, these games are simply a joy to experience again.