What’s Next for Ratchet and Clank?
Now, its spawned one of the most popular franchises for the PlayStation, and with their second PS3 game being replayed again and again and again, Insomniac Studios seem to be taking a break to focus on their other franchise, Resistance.
So what can we expect to see for the future of Ratchet and Clank?
In the first game, Ratchet stumbles upon Clank who crash-landed on his home planet. After a rocky start and completely separate goals, manage to save Ratchet’s home planet and subsequently the rest of the galaxy.
The game was a great success, earning cult status very quickly with some aspects of the game becoming staples in the series. For example, the lush colourful sci-fi worlds, the crazy and alarmingly original weapons and Ratchet’s… ratchet.
However, complaints came in that Ratchet was too unlikable, so when development of the second game “Going Commando” (or “Locked and Loaded”, depending on where you lived) was confirmed, Insomniac tried to fix it by making Ratchet “less cocky […] he is much more friendly to Clank, and he’s able to handle himself better in stressful situations without being impetuous, which is what he was in Ratchet 1.”
“Going Commando” was also a success, with improved graphics, control system, weapons and pretty much everything else. It also added space combat, arenas and spherical worlds, elements seen again and improved upon in later games.
The third game, “Up Your Arsenal” (or simply “Ratchet and Clank 3 if you’re European and boring) introduced the villain “Doctor Nefarious” who had a history with bumbling hero Captain Copernicus Qwark and as a result of his personal demons and troubled childhood, tried to turn the entire galaxy into robots.
After this, Insomniac tried a different approach to freshen up the series and we ended up with Ratchet: Deadlocked. While still a good game in its own right, it didn’t quite manage to capture the essence of previous games, partly because Clank was no longer a playable character and partly because the game was focused on the combat aspect of the games, something which, although fun, was not the sole appeal for everyone.
Then the PS3 was announced, and since then Insomniac has really come into its own. With high-definition graphics and cutscenes so polished you could see your own reflection in them, the “Future” trilogy of games unleashed Ratchet and Clank upon a new generation with “Tools of Destruction”.
ToD was a much needed return to form. The magic had been dusted back into every nook and cranny of the game making everything seem new again. New story aspects were also intruduced, for the first time questioning why Ratchet seemed to be the only Lombax around. High-definition didn’t hurt either, and it was clear ToD was a winner.
Things got better with the downloadable “Quest for Booty”. Taking the robot pirates from the previous game, this miniature ‘Clank-less’ game experimented with a few new features of gameplay, like finally being able to pick things up with the ratchet and some more slightly mind-bending puzzles to tantalise your brain.
QfB also set up the story for the final game in the trilogy, where Doctor Nefarious returned as the main villain and questions were raised about Clank’s past.
The most recent game, “A Crack in Time” was stylized like a 50’s sci-fi B-Movie, and easily the best in the entire franchise. The graphics are stunning, the gameplay is engaging and sublime and it concluded both Ratchet and Clank’s immediate story arcs as well as setting up new ones for possible future games.
Insomniac has hardly put a foot wrong with Ratchet and Clank, their only recent failing being not announcing the next R&C game, or even teasing us.
Which leads to the question, what happens next?
Well, balancing two franchises is not easy, so Insomniac are probably putting their efforts into Resistance 3 right now, but with Ratchet still having no family and Percival Tachyon’s haunting words at the end of ToD, there is no question about another Ratchet and Clank game in the future.
But would you want more of the same? Some reviews criticised the similarity to previous games in terms of gameplay, while others exclaimed “don’t fix what ain’t broken!”
Despite gameplay being similar, there were major additions, like the time puzzles in the Great Clock, the Rocket Boots (which quickly became my favourite mode of transport and guiltily prevents me from playing the previous games until some kind of hack/patch is introduced) and the free-roaming space travel which served to open the games up in terms of scale and size.
But does Insomniac have any more to give? Well, they’ve innovated to great effect 6 times past the original game, so why not a 7th?
Ratchet and Clank are too successful a duo for Sony or PlayStation to lose and as the PS3 goes from strength to strength it only makes sense for the most popular Lombax and his robotic best-friend to return in some form or other, be it another game, a set of humorous short animations or downloadable episodic adventure on the PSN. Either way, I’ll be keeping a close eye on Insomniac and all contact to and from their building.
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