Ratchet & Clank (2016) Review

There are many PlayStation 4 owners who never owned a PlayStation console before this generation.  I am one of those.  I have missed out on Sony exclusive’s my entire life.  Naturally, my ears perk up a little each time I hear of a remaster or remake of an older exclusive.  With each one I play, I realize just how amazing the PlayStation exclusive content is as a whole. 

I can now add Ratchet & Clank to that list.  The playing field for video games has become so huge, it may seem an interesting choice to remake an older game.  Can Ratchet & Clank really do well against a game like The Division or No Man’s Sky?  The questions may seem fair at first glance, but it really is irrelevant.  In fact, comparing games of different genres is almost a waste of time.  The real question is, is Ratchet & Clank fun?  The answer is YES!

Ratchet and Clank are both very lovable characters in and of themselves.   Ratchet wants to be like the heroes he idolizes, and Clank is a robot who saw the bad guy’s evil plan and now wants to stop those plans.  The plot is basic.  The “twist” and "turns" are obvious.  Granted, this story was made years before all the other video games made the same story.  So was it basic then or just now as a remake? However, that point is really moot.  The gameplay is so fun that the basic story is essentially irrelevant in terms of no complexity.  It’s not a complex story, but it is enough to make you care.  Also, this is a game designed for kids.  Sometimes as an adult, I review media for kids through the lens of a grown man.  

The number of weapons and their ridiculous nature really surprised me.  Who the hell puts a disco ball shooter in game that makes the enemies go into an immediate dance party?  THIS ISN’T TO BE TAKEN SO SERIOUSLY.  What a fresh reminder that video games are just to have fun.  That’s it.  They are a hobby that we are suppose to enjoy.  Ratchet and Clank reminds you of that at every turn with its self-aware humor, pop-culture references, and constant gags about video game culture (and their critics). Also, the weapon upgrade system is uniquely set up.  Upgrading certain features in a circle (the order they are in), unlocks a mystery feature for that weapon.  Each weapon has several mystery upgrades.  This makes it extremely fun/rewarding to unlock these and see what you get.

The game is beautiful.  Each world you visit has its own look/feel.   The colors are vibrant, the physics are fluid/great, and the characters you interact with are fun.  As you unlock weapons and gadgets, you have to revisit worlds you have already explored in order to unlock other gadgets and collectibles.  The worlds are fun enough that this is an enjoyment and not a chore like most games.  

Some cut-scenes though are oddly ugly.  They are not nearly as impressive as the actual gameplay.  If you’re going to remake a game and you make the gameplay beautiful, wouldn’t you want to make all the cut-scenes equally pretty to watch?  Some scenes look fine while others seem off comparatively. 

My only major complaint would be the hover board races, granted, they are optional. The races themselves feel clunky and are a constant frustration.  You have to finish first place in 3 different cups.  This wouldn’t be too big a deal except the execution of the racing is done terribly.  It doesn’t matter how bad you do in the first lap of each race; you can do terribly or do great, and the other racers adjust accordingly.  If you get 20 turbo boost the first lap, you still won’t finish that lap in 3rd or above, because the other racers adjust their speed to you.  This means that each race is won by one second or less.  This allows for no mistakes in the final lap.  Essentially, your first two laps are a waste of time with the 3rd lap being the only one that matters.  If you execute those first two perfectly but mess up on the 3rd, you’re out of luck.

Also, there are some sequences that are pretty challenging.  I enjoy the challenge.  However, I do not like having to jump through a bunch of hoops  whenever I fail a complex challenge that was designed to be failed many times before you succeed.  An example being the hover-board racing.  If I lose, why is there not an immediate option to restart at the starting line?  Why do I have to watch a cut-scene of my loss every time, watch the race coordinator speak to me, and then select the race I want to restart?  I had to redo those races roughly 30 times.  A lot of time was wasted on such a simple feature that should have been added.

With the imminent release of the Ratchet & Clank movie, this was the perfect opportunity for Insomniac Games (the developer) and Sony to try and revitalize the massive audience Ratchet & Clank already have, while drawing in more fans with this new release. It's no wonder that they game looks like a Pixar movie, that's the aesthetic the film will have, and it obviously translated well to this medium. 

Overall, this is an extremely fun game.  It is simple in nature, but that does not make it less enjoyable.  It is also nice to see a family friendly game that adults and kids can both enjoy to a maximum level.  This could also have easily been a $60 game.  The fact that Sony sells it for $40 is a steal.  This franchise has gone from a game I’ve never played to something I genuinely hope they make more of.

4 1-2 Stars.png