Ratchet & Clank HD Review
Written : Friday, July 06, 2012
By: Lee Bradley
Though the series continues to delight fans to this day, Insomniac’s bright and cheerful Ratchet & Clank games feel a world away from the grizzly neck-stabbing, kerb-stomping and face shooting that has come to dominate this generation.
They’re just delightful, a wonderful way to wash away the blood, guts and viscera of gaming’s more “mature” experiences. Rejuvenated with a HD sheen and slapped into a brand new compilation; Ratchet & Clank, R&C2: Going Commando and R&C: Up Your Arsenal are a reminder of a simpler time.
Indeed, it’s hard to find fault at all. Make no mistake, even with a HD polish these games struggle to stand alongside true current-gen offerings, but as far as remasters go Idol Minds has done a fantastic job.
"Bright lights, big city."
The source material helps, of course. What the games lack in graphical complexity they more than make up for in vibrancy. Every environment and character is a bold, colourful delight with big chunky features and more than a little charm. It’s truly lovely.
Your adventures follow the titular characters - feline/rodent Lombax mechanic Ratchet and robot factory reject Clank - as they get into various intergalactic japes and scrapes, while going up against an escalating list of cartoony bad dudes.
As the games progress, so too does the complexity and quality of the gameplay. The original Ratchet & Clank is more of a straight up action-platformer, with a touch of gear-gating facilitated by some wonderful little gadgets. The later titles meanwhile, ramp up the RPG elements, with kit leveling and upgrades, and in the case Up Your Arsenal, a multiplayer mode.
Despite this evolution, what all of the games share is a sense of wide-eyed wonder. These are not hard games by any means, but they are joyful. Be it in the metallic clink that accompanies the collection of bolts, the exuberance of the colourful cast or the satisfying crunch from destroying a crate, it all feels great.
Throughout the series, the balance of platforming, combat and light-puzzle solving is deftly handled. It rarely feels like a slog as there is always something different to do just around the corner. Pacing is an undersold quality in games, but Insomniac got it just right.
"Watch the laser!"
It’s all so immediate too. The way the characters control, the ease of use of the gadgets and the warm familiarity of the gameplay is immensely reassuring. Once commonplace, these kinds of experiences - of this kind of quality - have become increasingly rare.
There are a couple of issues resulting from the age of the games. We take camera controls for granted now, but here they can be a little clunky. You’ll have to dive into the options and have a fiddle to find your ideal setup. It’s a manageable problem.
Furthermore, despite the game running in 1080p at 60 fps, some of the presentational aspects of the collection are compromised. Cut-scenes run in 4:3 as opposed to widescreen, while the FMV sections suffer from a drop back to standard def. There wasn’t much Idol Minds could do about that, but it’s jarring regardless.
These are minor issues however, that have little to no impact on the sheer enjoyment on offer. Some may point to the fact that neither Ratchet: Gladiator or any of the PSP games are included, but that would overlook the fact that these titles offer up a cumulative 40 or so hours of fun. That’s a lot of value.
Indeed, even the trophies are generous. On top of the fact that each of the three games offers up separate Platinum trophies to work towards, they’re also pretty easy to get. Chuck in some quirky efforts like Strike a Pose and Cluck Chunk and you can see that Idol Minds gave this list some creative thought. Lovely stuff.
The perfect antidote to military shooter and grizzly third-person murder fatigue, Ratchet & Clank HD Collection can’t be recommended enough. Buy it.
Cheesy Saturday morning cartoon voice work, a joyful soundtrack and the addictive tinkling of collected bolts make this one a winner.
A fantastic remaster brings out all of the source material’s charm. Let down only by 4:3 and standard def cut-scenes and FMV sections.
Glorious. A wonderful mix of platforming, light puzzles, exploration and combat. Hard to fault, other than some wonky camera controls.
Three classic titles treated with reverence, combining to offer in excess of 40 hours enjoyment. Splendid.
Aside from some time-consuming bolt collection trophies, these are easy lists. Add a dash of creativity and the fact that there’s three separate Platinums up for grabs and R&C HD Collection is an enticing release for trophy hunters.
A brilliant compilation of some brilliant games, Ratchet & Clank HD Trilogy stands proudly alongside the Sly Trilogy and the Jak and Daxter HD Collection as an example of a remaster done right. Delightful.