Dynamic HD duo!
HD collections seem to be the norm these days with a new nostalgic title from the PlayStation 2 days being ported over to PlayStation 3 very frequently and this time, we are in the mood for another with the Ratchet & Clank trilogy. Does it bring back those fond memories of the series when it was first released, or should if of stayed in the ‘Nostalgia’ bin? Read on to find out.
Developer: Idol Minds/Insomniac Games
Originally released on the PlayStation 2 back in 2002 by Insomniac Games, the series had a huge following and was renowned as being one of the best platforming titles available at that present time and still to this day, its still a very popular franchise within the gaming world. The HD collection of Ratchet & Clank is ported over and adapted by Idol Minds rather than the original developer, Insomniac Games. The HD collection features a vast array of content with three titles featuring on the shiny new blu-ray disk which are Ratchet & Clank, Ratchet & Clank 2: Locked & Loaded and Ratchet & Clank 3 for you to get your teeth into. Each title features high-definition remastered graphics, trophy support, online co-op and the option to play the game in 3D as well.
Ratchet & Clank
In the first title in the series – Ratchet & Clank, sees you take control of protagonist, Ratchet with the help from a sentient robot named Clank and they must save the universe by traveling to various worlds to stop the evil forces from taking control. Being the oldest title in the series, it would not surprise me if you thought that this might not look that great considering how long ago it was since it was originally released, but I’m pleased to say that this isn’t the case at all, as like all of the games in this collection, Idol Minds have done a brilliant job of making each of the series titles, look beautiful in its remastered HD visuals. The colours are bright, the environments look delicious and most importantly, the overall look really is a great one. Like I have said above, there seems to be HD collections coming out of our ears at present with what seems like everyone wanting a slick of the ‘HD collection’ action with some re-mastered titles not doing themselves any favours but this is one of the better collections that has so far, been released on the PlayStation 3 and its clear that a lot of time and effort has been put Into making this as good as it can possibly be.
While this original Ratchet & Clank title really has come out very nice indeed, there are a few issues but nothing to really trouble you at all. Be it from music not carrying on when it should do or slight camera troubles since the camera’s movement isn’t automatic and needs to be adjusted manually with the right stick which at times (rare occasions I must add) seemed to become muddled and fiddly in its point of direction. The original control set-up remains and is as still accessible as it was back when Ratchet & Clank was released back in 2000. Ratchet & Clank both have this bond which is what people love about the duo and still, it feels as fresh and original as it first was those many years ago. The over-the-top yet charming weaponry is still present with hover-like suction guns, flamethrowers and explosive bombs all there in an abundance. The main focus of the game is to explore, explore and explore so more. The level design is brilliantly put together and feels exciting and fun.As good as the original game is for the series, it can become a bit stale and repetitive at times and there isn’t a massive challenge compared to the last two games in the series. Due to the missions being quite similar and pretty simple. You will fly-through it without any major problems. One issue I have, which really hasn’t dated well at all are the cutscenes that are still included as they have the black bars down each side of the screen and unfortunately, have not been given an overhaul like the rest of the game has cosmetically.
Ratchet & Clank 2: Locked & Loaded
With Ratchet & Clank’s first journey over with, the two characters are back in the form of Ratchet & Clank 2: Locked & Loaded which sees them being hired by a company named, Megacorp to help find a missing creature which was stolen from one of the company’s labs while battling through new universes and tackling new enemies. The ante has been upped with Ratchet & Clank 2: Locked & Loaded with missions that have had a drastic overhaul with more dynamic and fun sections including races, which give the series that added boost that was missing from the first installment in the series. locked & Loaded is my favourite of a very good bunch of games and the reason being is because it just feels more fun to play with more varied missions, yet ultimately, a better level design as well is added to the mix to give it that perfect balance. Another factor that adds even more to the mix is the fact that the weaponry is even more varied and full-on that at times, was missing from the first game.
Like all Ratchet & Clank titles, the aim of the game is to upgrade your weapons buy collecting bolts and then using them to buy weapons and ammo from the shops dotted around on each planet and this is where you come across some crazy looking weapons for you to purchase. One huge improvement in this (compared to that of the 1st game) is the fact that the controls have been tightened and feel a lot more natural and responsive and now, the accidental deaths which occurred in the original Ratchet & Clank, are a thing of the past. Also, the combat has been given an overhaul as well which sees a more profound and refined system which works so much better than the original system. Overall, Ratchet & Clank 2: Locked & Loaded is just a better overall experience that offers more variety and most importantly, fun. With all the slight issues with the 1st game out of the picture, it feels more polished and designed better.
Ratchet & Clank 3
In the final installment, Ratchet & Clank find themselves traversing through new environments with the task of defeating an evil robotic villain called, Dr. Nefarious who’s plan is to destroy and kill all organic life. While the final installment in the series is still a platformer at its roots, the improvements made to the final title are huge. The game still features its main missions across various planets like the other two games did but since Insomniac wanted to improve the game even more so, Ratchet & Clank 3 includes more side missions and mini-games added for longevity and replay-ability as well which does add more than enough to keep you occupied which include taking control of Captain Qwark in one example. Also another big plus for Ratchet & Clank 3 is the fact that the game features an online multiplayer mode which gives you the option to play on various maps while using the single-player weaponry that you are accustomed to.
One of the problems with the third installment and like its predecessors, is that at times, the game struggles with becoming repetitive. That’s not to say the game isn’t a blast as it is defiantly that for the most part, with its improved and varied mission selections and upgraded weapons adding to an already fun experience, but because each game is very familiar in terms of your main objective, it does feel at times like its a case of deja vu. One thing that stands out in Ratchet & Clank 3 is the deeper and upgrade system that features throughout the game. This offers more depth and variety and something that both Ratchet & Clank and Locked & loaded were missing in some aspects. Graphically, this is the best of the bunch which you would expect being as it was released the latest on the PlayStation 2 back in 2004. It looks and is presented beautifully well and is also animated superbly. Its strange to think that this title is 8 years old as with the remastered HD graphics, it gives it that extra lease of life.
Overall thoughts then? The Ratchet & Clank Trilogy really is one of the nicest HD re-releases out there at present and Idol Minds have done a superb job of porting it over to the PlayStation 3. While at times, the game has annoyances and can feel repetitive, it’s still great fun to play. Slight-problems aside, this is a platforming trilogy with a huge amount of charm, and one that all PlayStation 3 owners should check out.