A timeless and iconic trilogy comes to the PS3.
Ratchet and Clank fans rejoice! The Ratchet and Clank Trilogy has graced the PS3, and with an all-new HD paintjob and added trophies for all you completionists out there, playing through the wacky adventures of Ratchet and Clank has even more incentive; and did I mention it’s even better than before? Must be the nostalgia.
Even though it’s only been ten years since the 2002 debut of the space-faring dynamic duo’s first intergalactic adventure, reliving and replaying what is arguably one of the Playstation’s most iconic and classic action-platforming games is a great experience.
Watch the official trailer!
The story of the trilogy is simple and charming for those who are not familiar with the franchise. Ratchet is an anthropomorphic-humanoid cat known as a Lombax and Clank is a small sentient robot who meet in dire circumstances involving an evil overlord ravaging other planets to benefit his own. Clank crash lands on the planet Ratchet is constructing a spaceship on, and Clank asks the unlikely hero Ratchet to accompany him in a mission to stop the evil Chairman Drek, and thus their adventure begins and an unbreakable friendship forms.
The narrative and characterisation is fairly simple by contemporary standards, but the cartoon-like manner of the story combined with the wacky situations they find themselves in, and the endearing and humorous interaction between the pair and other likable minor characters often induces many laugh-out-loud moments. The story and characterisation genuinely grows on you as it improves in quality in the second and third games.
The gameplay foundations from a contemporary perspective still remains as enjoyable and consistent as it was ten years ago, balancing platforming sections, third-person shooting and puzzle-solving, with a first-person camera perspective available to conquer certain sections. Each game has a basic structure of the dynamic duo travelling across the galaxy, exploring, solving and shooting their way through diverse and exotic alien worlds, each with their own puzzles, obstacles, missions environments, enemies and collectibles to encounter, and bolts to collect. Bolts are the series's currency, used to purchase ammo, new weapons and gadgets modifications, and many of these are needed to progress through the later levels.
"Yo yo yo, Ratchet in the house!"
The levels are well-planned out and many sections encourage players to revisit them to access or blast their way through to new or hidden areas with their newly purchased gear. Smashing and blasting your way through crates, enemies and other areas to gather bolts and acquire new weapons and gadgets is extremely addictive, and there are a variety of wacky and over-the-top items to keep things exciting.
The player controls Ratchet for the majority of each game, though there are certain missions which require the player to directly control Clank; otherwise Clank sits on Ratchet’s back in a backpack like fashion and provides assistance in the form of gadgets, jumping, hovering, diving and other abilities gained through various upgrades.
Insomniac doesn’t deviate from the basic formula too much, and improves upon it in the latter two games rather than change it completely, but they generally managed to nail a great balance of platforming, light puzzle-solving and shooting sections. Combined with all the different types of weapons, such as a ‘Suck Cannon’ which sucks in enemies and shoots them back out as bullets, or the ‘Devastator’, which needs no elaboration, each combat situation is fun and entertaining. The three entries also contain various mini-games scattered between levels, such as hoverboard races, space fights, horde-style wave battles and so on, to mix things up.
Sometimes it feels the games throw wave after wave of mindless enemies at you just to count them as another mission, which is somewhat disappointing after playing through some of the more creative missions available, such as Ratchet going into disguise and having to talk his way past some guards with hilarious conversational results. However, the depth of the weapon progression and variety available, as well as the skill involved in getting around the platform sections mostly negate this.
The classic R&C gameplay remains intact and as fun as ever.
The first Ratchet and Clank is a lot more simpler and notably lacks the diversity of weapons and mini-game missions the second added in. Looking back it’s the second game which cemented the series’s appeal; tighter more responsive controls, strafing, bigger and better weapons, and slicker presentation. Most importantly, it added light-roleplaying elements to the way weapons and gadgets upgrade. The more they’re used, the more powerful they get, eventually morphing into something new.
The third entry expanded upon the formula the most in making the gameplay- from collecting bolts to general combat- a lot more faster paced. It also added the Starship Phoenix, a player staging area where missions can be triggered, and ‘Vid-Comics’ collected throughout the game can be used to play a 2D-side-scrolling mini-game involving Captain Qwark and his origin stories his superhero career, which is a fun side-distraction.
The multiplayer aspects of the third entry- which has been included in the HD trilogy- is fun for what it is, and contains traditional gametypes such as Deathmatch and Capture The Flag, and a mode called Siege in which the player storms the opponent's base and tries to destroy the power core inside.
"Smashing and blasting your way through crates, enemies and other areas to gather bolts and acquire new weapons and gadgets is extremely addictive, and there are a variety of wacky and over-the-top items to keep things exciting."
The Trilogy comes on a single Blu-Ray disc and lets you choose which of the three classics to play. In my time with all three, I found all had improved significantly in the graphical department, which is good because they truly benefitted from the HD remaster. The characters, environments and weapons have been pleasantly and impressively translated into 1080p with vivid colours and textures that bring it on par with the best-looking HD collections around. The Trilogy implements 720p Stereoscopic 3D support for those who want to view it in all its 3D glory, though if playing in 3D there is a noticeable drop in framerate, at 30fps instead of the smoother 60fps.
Some minor annoyances in the presentation department were some stuttering in the second title, and the lack of subtitle support in the second game. The mission load sequence of flying between planets is also painfully repetitive, and remains exactly the same for all three games. The pre-rendered cutscenes seemed to have taken a hit, as the visual quality and screen ratio are less refined than the rest of the games, though it doesn't influence gameplay.
Another common complaint is the camera, which doesn’t always auto-correct in certain battles with bosses, though I personally did not consciously encounter this as a problem, probably because I was having too much fun using the ‘Suck Cannon’ weapon to shoot robot aliens at giant spider-queens and other awesome-ly cartoonish bosses.
The Final Verdict
It's hard not to like the Ratchet and Clank series. Its strength and success was always linked to the simplicity of its shooter-platforming gameplay and the camaraderie between the unlikely hero Ratchet and the intellectual Clank. The humour and witty dialogue throughout the games are endearing and genuinely get you invested in the plot like any great cartoon or game. The HD trilogy certainly doesn't look or feel 10 years old, and it definitely was a great move to bring the original three to the PS3 for the next generation to enjoy. The Ratchet and Clank Trilogy is a must own gaming experience, not just for the nostalgia, but to experience an iconic series which is as playable and enjoyable as it was ten years ago.
By Nathan Misa- Writer Bio