Everyone’s favourite Lombax has decided to tackle the heavily-maligned realm of ‘Movie Tie-In Games’. Ratchet and Clank, the new one anyways, is based on the movie that was based off of a 14-year-old video-game. Confused yet? Don’t worry… we’ll sort it out.
Fourteen years ago, the first Ratchet and Clank came out. Then numerous successful sequels came out, including A Crack in Time, which made my Shadow’s Sixty list. Then the developer decided to go back and re-tell the original game in movie form. Alongside it, they are creating a re-imagined game version of the Lombax’s origin story, and that’s where this game comes in.
But I guess the real question is: is it good?
If all you want is the answer to that question, I’ll save you a lot of reading. Yes, it is. In fact, I’m not sure why you’d be reading a review of the game in stead of buying and playing it. But, here we both are… me reviewing the game, and you reading a review of it. So let’s give you more than just that, shall we?
Do You Know How To Laugh? Mr. Zurkon is Here For Your First Lesson!
The game starts with a comical scene of a prisoner by the name of Shiv Helix being moved to a joint cell with Captain Qwark. Here’s our first sign of this game’s unique humour and self-awareness: Helix tells Qwark that a game is being made out of the movie that was made out of his last adventure – by which they mean the game we’re talking about right now, and the movie that you can go see in theatres if you so choose.
The game continues on with an incredible self-awareness throughout. There’s one character who jokes ‘See you in the next reboot’ as he exits the scene which leaves Ratchet looking confused. Additionally, Qwark is narrating the game and has little jabs at Ratchet throughout the entire game. For one example, if you go underwater and start running low on air, the narration will say ‘Ratchet knew he would need to surface to breathe’ as you are about to drown. The game uses a great combination of tongue-in-cheek one-liners and great situational humour to never let you get bored.
Bombs, Guns, Jetpacks, and… Sheep?
The other side of the humour comes from the game’s weaponry. Several weapons have funny tweaks to them, such as the Pixelator which does exactly what you’d think… and causes enemies to explode into Pixels if you kill them while they’re Pixelized. But my favourite is, as always, Mr Zurkon. With lines like “Mr Zurkon has no need for Bolts, his only currency is Pain”, it’s always a pleasure having our robotic friend around. Even when you’re fighting the enormous Mrs Zurkon, one of the game’s many bosses. She even has her own arsenal of hilarious lines based off of the maid from the Jetsons – for those of you old enough to get that reference.
But those are far from the only awesome weapons to be found… of course the game covers all the bases with a handgun, a sniper rifle, a rocket launcher. But those are just there to ensure you have the right tools for the job. The real fun comes from weapons like the Groovitron, which forces enemies to dance, or the Sheepinator which turns things into Sheep, or the or the RYNO (short for Rip Ya a New One) which is so epic that it plays Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture while you release its payload of rockets and bullets.
The game continues one-upping itself, offering you more and more satisfying methods of destroying your foes, and more and more satisfying methods of traversal. You’ll get access to shoes that let you ride electrified rails, the ability to swing from hooks, and even a jetpack that you can fly around with. While the jetpack is awesome, and is one of the most useful and fun additions… it is actually also one of the few disappointing parts of the game as you’ll find out, after acquiring it, that it is only usable in three places in the entire game.
Taking a step away from the frenetic pace of the majority of the game’s scenes, every so often Clank heads off on his own to accomplish things his fleshy counterpart cannot. Our robot friend gets the ability to convert other robots into various forms to assist him in solving puzzles. While I was a bit saddened at how simplistic the Clank segments in general were, they were still relatively satisfying puzzles by modern standards.
Play it Again!
The game offers ton of playtime, including a variety of optional content within the game. There are several challenges throughout the game that offer great rewards but are mostly unnecessary. These range from a sewer trap, that is extremely difficult – arguably too difficult – to do when you reach there, but would become child’s play if you waited and did it later on, to card collecting… from a brain collection hunt on a volcanic planet to gold bolts hidden around the various planets that unlock various ‘cheats’ for the game. Over the course of my first playthrough, I enjoyed the game enough that I was willing to spend the time to accomplish most of these… some of them without even realizing they were optional.
The one thing I will point out is that there was one of these ‘optional minigames’ that was not entirely optional. The game features a race circuit that plays vaguely like a racing game… which is a skillset that, sadly, I do not possess. Unfortunately, the game makes one of these courses mandatory. This meant I spent nearly an hour beating my head against a wall until I managed to finally overcome the challenge, with nothing I could do except try again and again. Not my favourite experience… generally I prefer when minigames that are vastly different from the core game are left as side-experiences or at least offer you a significant advantage for the mandatory component – like back in Final Fantasy 7’s chocobo racing.
The other source of replayability is a challenge mode in which you retain your save data but start over in a higher difficulty version of the game where you can upgrade your weapons even further. For a game of this style, this is another great addition.
I just wanted to drop a quick mention here to say that this game is gorgeous. One of the first games I’ve seen that really shows what the PS4 can do, and without even striving for realism. The visual effects here are amazing, and the animations are so crisp. It really is amazing to see a game that isn’t realistic do what this game does with graphics. They created a vibrant, colourful world with interesting characters and a spectacular feeling of impact to the weaponry.
Really, it’s hard to find criticisms about this game. It’s one of those games that is just plain fun. It has a good mix of challenge and fun, it has a great comic story, and it has some of the best weapons I’ve ever seen. They weren’t content to just take what had worked in the past and redo it, even though it is a re-telling of the initial story… they expanded beyond that. The few mistakes they made were relatively minor, with the puzzles being too simple and a mandatory minigame being too different from the core game to justify the mandatory nature. But aside from those very few mistakes, this is the best Ratchet and Clank I’ve played, and if this is only the start of a new chapter in Ratchet and Clank’s storyline, then it’s safe to say it’s going to be the start of a great story.