Ratchet & Clank Trilogy Review (PS Vita)

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The original Ratchet & Clank Trilogy released on PlayStation 3 a couple of years ago has finally made its way to the PlayStation Vita. With platforming spanning ten years, all of which was largely well received, surely the transition to Sony’s handheld could only be a good thing? Read on to find out.

Game: Ratchet & Clank Trilogy
Developer: Mass Media/Insomniac Games
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
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The series is essentially action based platforming that sees you charging around levels as Ratchet, smashing up enemies and collecting the nuts and bolts loot they eagerly drop. Your sidekick Clank plays a supporting role in cut scenes but eventually becomes more useable in the later games of the Trilogy. One of the strengths of the collection is, without doubt, being able to see the progression of the series from the first outing in 2002 to the more recent PlayStation 2 title. Mass Media have ported the series quite well, and it’s a great showcase to see Insomniacs original developments from weapon/armour upgrading all the way through to basic controls as you move through the games.

As expected, the result of playing the trilogy in order is that the better experience does come from the most recent creation because of the evolution of gameplay mechanics. That’s not to say the original doesn’t hold up remarkably well; it does. Some excellent writing, quick-witted humour and strong sound design is evident across the collection, but the first does feel thinner and a little less polished than you might expect from a HD upgrade of sorts, at least compared to the other two games. Also, cutscenes have remained in their original boxed format for all three titles, meaning black borders and a slight craving for them to be recreated to match the actual graphical appearance of gameplay, which has to be said looks great on the Vita’s slick screen throughout them all.

More grinding niggles come in the form of glitches that take the shine of this Vita port to some extent. The first game feels sluggish and you’ll often be fighting in silence as music and sound effects come and go as they please. I wasn’t sure if the slowdown was framerate issues or latency, but it felt heavy and unresponsive at times making the quick nature of battle slightly frustrating. Saying that, considering how old these games actually are, you’ll be hard pushed to be overly disappointed from a visual perspective – they’ve aged really well, especially the third game which looks as colourful and dazzling as it ever has.

Ratchet & Clank sits nicely on the Vita as a pick up and play title. The almost therapeutic nature of fighting and collecting very rarely becomes a bore, even on the first game where the upgrading systems and strafing were yet to be added back in the day. The later games that do have strafing have it mapped to the rear touch pad, which in fairness to the game is more of an annoyance to me than a problem that’s not easily overcome by most – I’ve just never got on with it throughout numerous Vita titles, as I find it a little awkward.

Each title has a great selection of weapons to choose from, each encompassing the game’s renowned sense of humour that invigorates the series so well. You’ll find guns that empower you to crazy levels of badassdom such as the ‘Devastator’ and the ‘RYNO’ (Rip You a New One), to quirky ones that might turn unsuspecting enemies into a chicken or brainwash them into hurting each other. The arsenal at your fingertips is a feature that only gets stronger with each title as upgrading becomes available. As a result, the sense of progression (on the Vita, too) is a great triumph of the series and creates that addictive need to play ‘just ten more minutes’ to get that next upgrade or checkpoint.

VERDICT

It’s true that Ratchet & Clank have always had one foot in the past with influences deriving from older 90’s consoles. But whilst gaming might have changed considerably since that time, this type of action platforming is still hugely entertaining to play and enjoyable for the entire family, thanks to its trademark humour and excellent accessibility. Unfortunately the HD upgrades are merely good, not great, and the Vita port is not without it’s own issues. However, overall the games themselves are still hugely enjoyable and with the excellent value also in mind, you won’t be going far wrong by picking up this collection.

8/10

Began gaming on a hand-me-down Commodore Vic-20 back in the mid 80's and hasn't managed to shake the addiction yet. Genres of choice include anything that contains bullets and/or bouncy balls. Has been known to dabble in Destiny content.

@nickjh82

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