Ratchet and Clank is a remake, not a reboot. I noticed a handful of people who mistakenly thought it was a full-on reboot, but it’s actually a remake of the first Ratchet and Clank with added tie-ins as PART OF an attempt to reboot the franchise alongside a movie. Of course, with all kinds of remasters and various takes on old games on current gen systems, does Ratchet and Clank break the mold of simply adding spit and shine to old games for a quick cash-in?
And I might just have to leave you dangling on that answer, because first is the absolutely and utterly joyful cacophony of the massively expanded weaponry at Ratchet’s disposal. Sure, you could call it a shooter, but it’s an action platforming shooter. This means it’s not about aiming precision, but about making a cartoon-y mess. And boy does the weaponry deliver. It takes a little bit of time to get to the juicy things like the Groovitron (and yes, it makes BOSSES dance, too!), but there’s no way you won’t find a favorite weapon. Moving into the action platformer part comes something of a nostalgia trip. The classic formula of platforming finds you doing what might be considered generic in the modern day, but feels like a trip down memory lane. While this also demonstrates how far we’ve come from the “jump from this ledge to that platform” formula by posing so little platforming challenge that it makes Mario look like the “Dark Souls” of platforming, there’s no denying it’s still good fun. Cleverly enough, the game doesn’t stick to this casual platforming all the time, and you end up playing Star Fo–err I mean, flying around and shooting, riding on rails like Sonic, and even a few hoverboard races. Truth be told, the core gameplay structure has stood the test of time quite well, ensuring that with the remakes few additions, the formula keeps boredom at bay. What we have here is an example of a timeless classic: what was underneath the surface was designed well enough that it only needed to be refined to survive in the modern era.
Coming in at just a mere $40 for its full price, I actually didn’t have my expectations that high. Boy was I wrong. Not only did the remake’s altered campaign last its price in full all on its own, but the game actually CONVINCED me through its new and expanded weaponry to start up a new game in Challenge mode just to see how far my badass-ery could go with my rocket launcher… and Pyrocitor… and Groovitron… But of course, for collectors, there are cards that provide you with various perks, a museum of Ratchet and Clank exhibitions to unlock, and a surprisingly deep weaponry upgrade system that lends to that second playthrough. In fact, I’ll be surprised if you don’t find yourself tempted at all to just go at it one more time after you finish the game, if only to try one of the weapons you barely touched on your first playthrough… It’s like some sort of gear grind addiction.
The standards with which a cartoon-based style can be pushed into the realm of “reality” has been raised. Normally, one can safely say a remake shares some visual basis with its original. That is not the case here, and it is clear that this game has been entirely rebuilt from the ground up for the PS4. I even looked for some shortcuts or some evidence of old, but none was to be found. This is truly a colorful and delightful feast for the eyes. Though, it’s near perfection comes at one frequent cost: the framerate. For a game that’s already running at 30 fps, I find framerate dips at this point to be fairly unacceptable in terms of optimization, but unfortunately the game does dip regularly when you decide it’s time to go big or go home. In terms of its presentational values, its Saturday morning cartoon humor may not be for everyone, but even if it is, it’s often contrived yet constant use can become a little overbearing. Not EVERYTHING has to be funny, and it could have been dialed back a bit without at all losing its light-hearted and smirk-inducing tone.
The word “remake” usually has a bad connotation or lowered expectations in general. Fortunately, Ratchet & Clank entirely curbs that stereotype, and is easily one of the finest examples of how to do a remake. It’s rebuilt from the ground up: it PLAYS like a classic, but looks like it belongs at the forefront of the modern era. When that visual appearance just so happens to be a cartoon-based style, points have to be awarded for the obvious tons of tender-loving-care bringing it to life in an industry that’s all about visual realism. Throw on the reduced price tag along with its enticingly replayable campaign, and it stands as the rubric for remakes. It does have a couple of niggles that could have been avoided like the framerate dips when trying too hard, and the unnecessarily forced Saturday morning cartoon humor that wears out its welcome. Still, any PS4 owner that even has a passing love for platforming owes themselves this purchase.
I give Ratchet and Clank…