The Ratchet & Clank Trilogy – The PS3 Attitude Review
In November, the Ratchet & Clank series will be celebrating its 10th Anniversary. To commemorate this milestone, Sony has released The Ratchet & Clank Trilogy, which is now available in Europe and features HD versions of the three original PS2 games on one Blu-Ray disc. But with four games in the franchise already available on PS3, is it worth going back to see where it all started?
Ratchet & Clank
When a game spawns nine sequels and spinoffs in ten years (and that’s not even including the upcoming PSN title, Full Frontal Assault), you know it’s doing something right. Many of the staple gameplay elements in later R&C games were established here, including space combat, grind rail courses, hoverbike races and, of course, the crazy weapons and gadgets.
At the start of the game, a lombax (a cat-like anthropomorphic creature) named Ratchet is working on his spaceship, when a tiny robot, who he later names Clank, crash lands near his home. From there, the duo uncovers a plot that threatens the entire galaxy, and it’s up to them to stop it. It’s hardly original, but the series’ trademark charm and humour ensure that it’s always entertaining.
Entertaining is also the perfect word to describe the gameplay. Ratchet & Clank is best described as a hybrid of a 3D platformer and third-person shooter, with some light puzzling thrown in for good measure. It’s a union that has sustained the franchise for ten years, and for good reason; it’s seriously good fun to play, not to mention worryingly addictive!
The tingle of bolts (the currency in R&C) as they fly towards you somehow never gets old, which compels the player to destroy every single crate and defeat every enemy. Whether you want to do that by turning enemies into chickens, or wielding the massive R.Y.N.O. (Rip You a New One) missile launcher, you’ll likely have a smile on your face the whole time.
Ratchet & Clank 2
Arriving just a year after the original game, Ratchet & Clank 2 features bigger set pieces, bigger enemies and bigger weapons. It isn’t as much of a step forward as later entries in the series would become, but it’s far from a disappointing sequel. The basic gameplay remains untouched, but adds some RPG elements into the mix, with upgradeable weapons, health and armour.
Ratchet & Clank 2 also features one of our favourite weapons in the entire series; the Seeker Gun, which you simply shoot in the general direction of an enemy and it’ll automatically lock on, effectively doing the hard work for you. However, we can’t review this game without also mentioning the Sheepinator, which turns enemies into sheep (obviously).
Other than the expected new weapons and gadgets, arguably the biggest revolution to gameplay is the stadium fights, which have featured in every major R&C game since. These missions dump you into an arena and task you with defeating waves of enemies, and were the inspiration behind Ratchet: Deadlocked/Gladiator, which unfortunately isn’t included in this collection.
In addition to the new gameplay features, Ratchet & Clank 2 also gives the titular lombax a new voice actor (James Arnold Taylor, who has starred in every R&C game since), as well as a slightly altered personality to make him more likeable. The story is as hilarious as ever, this time focusing on a bumbling scientist and a seemingly cute pet that is hell-bent on galactic domination. Only in R&C!
Ratchet & Clank 3
Ratchet & Clank 3 isn’t just our favourite game in the Trilogy, but possibly our favourite game in the entire series. Part of the reason for this is Insomniac’s genius inclusion of the Starship Phoenix. This galactic cruiser acts as the game’s home world, where Ratchet can participate in various VR training missions, purchase upgrades to his ship, play on his VG-9000 games console, and more.
Even the script is somehow even funnier, largely thanks to the wacky ensemble cast of characters, including Big Al, Helga, and Skidd McMarx (who all return from the first game), and the introduction of main antagonist, Dr. Nefarious. With vehicle sections, open-world areas, optional missions and an even more addictive weapon upgrade system, there’s a lot to love here.
Arguably the most impressive aspect of the entire port is that it even includes Ratchet & Clank 3’s online multiplayer. Very few gamers will have been able to experience this in the days of the PS2, so its appearance here is both surprising and welcome. Equally surprising is just how deep the experience is, considering it was originally created eight years ago.
With a ranking system, clan support, and gameplay that is just as frantically fun as the singleplayer experience, we can see Ratchet & Clank 3 developing a healthy online community on PS3, which could even lead to Insomniac including multiplayer in future R&C games. The icing on the cake is that multiplayer can also be played in offline splitscreen mode, which is a blast with friends.
Sony’s HD ports are always impressive, and The Ratchet & Clank Trilogy raises the bar even higher. The music and sound effects are sublime, and the complexity and diversity of the enemies and environments means they look terrific in high definition. At times (especially on Ratchet & Clank 3), you can even fool yourself into thinking you’re playing Tools of Destruction.
Our one complaint is that, whilst the gameplay and in-game cutscenes are presented in glorious HD widescreen, pre-rendered cutscenes have hardly been touched and remain in the standard 4:3 aspect ratio. This isn’t too big a deal as they only account for a miniscule percentage of the game, but it still serves to occasionally take you out of the otherwise vivid HD world.
We enjoyed the Ratchet & Clank games on the PlayStation 2, but it’s only after experiencing them years after their original release that we realise just how much of an achievement they really were. This is 3D platforming at its absolute finest, so whether you’re a newcomer to the series or a long-time fan, The Ratchet & Clank Trilogy is definitely worth experiencing for yourself.
Our first playthrough took about 10 hours per game, but with Challenge Mode to complete, various collectibles to find and skill points to earn, that play time will likely double for each game before we’re done. Add in Ratchet & Clank 3’s superb online multiplayer mode, and you have arguably the best Classics HD title to yet grace the PlayStation 3.