In advance of the upcoming Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart for PlayStation 5, let’s take a look back at the previous entry in the series. Ratchet & Clank released for PlayStation 4 in 2016 and has since become a favorite among PS4 owners. This colorful reimagining of the 2002 game of the same name had a lot to live up to for fans of the series. Not only did it have to live up to the standards set by the original game in the series, but it also had to serve as a tie-in game for the film that released around the same time. As such, we will be looking closer at Ratchet & Clank to see if a couple of old dogs can learn some new tricks.
A tale of two heroes
This reimagining of the 2002 game has a few story changes that make for a better Hollywood film. The overall plot is largely the same, but a few improvements have been made to the cast and the moment-to-moment events. It serves the game well at the end of the day, especially for newcomers to the series.
The plot involves a defective robot helping his new friend join a team of heroes. Working together, Ratchet and Clank become members of an elite peacekeeping group called the Galactic Rangers. The Rangers are led by the fantastic Captain Quark,who may just have a few dark secrets hidden behind his insincere smile. It’s the same great story that many of us played as kids. However, there’s one thing that didn’t quite sit right with me regarding the characters.
The humor that the series has always been known for seems to be toned way down in this version. The game is quite funny and lands a few jokes quite well, but there seems to be a bit more generic, safer humor padding those instances. Of course, humor is subjective and I’d imagine that many people would prefer this type of humor. Personally, though, I hope that the PS5’s Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart goes back to the delicate mix of mature and childish humor that the older games had.
Big guns and lots of shooting
Ratchet and Clank could be viewed in the same light as other mascots like Super Mario and Crash Bandicoot. However, something that has always set Ratchet and Clank apart has been the gigantic, silly guns that the series features. Fortunately, these weapons are still found in the remake and are just as outrageous as ever.
From a laser that turns enemies into sheep to a shotgun that pixelizes every enemy in a 16-bit art style, there are plenty of imaginative weapons in the game. The best thing is that they’re all super fun to use. It was important to nail the feel of classic gunplay for this iteration while also revitalizing it for current times. I’d say they achieved this in spades.
Jumping, gliding, and dodging
While the combat feels great, how does the platforming feel, though? Mild platforming has always had a place in the Ratchet & Clank games and it’s always felt decent enough to succeed. That trend continues in the PS4 version, fortunately. It won’t give Mario or Crash Bandicoot a run for their money. However, it doesn’t quite feel like that was the goal. Either way, playing as Ratchet feels great!
However, there are a few moments in the game that allow you to take control of Clank. In these brief sections, the player is stripped of their guns and most of their maneuverability. These gameplay slices are much more puzzle-oriented. The puzzles are all right and decently entertaining. Although, I often found myself wanting to get through them as quickly as I could. They aren’t bad by any stretch — just very bland.
Aside from on-foot running and gunning, as well as puzzle-solving as Clank, there is also flying combat. Although, the player takes control of Ratchet’s ship only briefly throughout the game. However, these moments are simply fun to play and look at. Honestly, I’d have taken a few more flying missions over Clank puzzles in the end.
The Power of PS4
Even for a game from 2016, Ratchet and Clank is an impressive indicator of what the PS4 is capable of. The visuals that players enjoy are gorgeous, but that’s not what impressed me. The amount of action that can happen on-screen at one time is the real takeaway from the game. I don’t recall seeing the framerate drop at all, even when there where hundreds of pieces of scrap (the game’s currency) flying across the screen. Naturally, this currency will typically be present whenever there are tons of explosions, projectiles, and enemies visible as well.
The environments that are found within the game also benefit from this, too. There are quite a few planets to explore that are impressive. Each planet has its own style and feel, which makes it actually seem like you’re bouncing across the galaxy at will.
Ratchet & Clank (2016) is a game that should please fans of the series. It will also more than likely inspire newcomers to get into these games, as well. It runs incredibly well and plays so smoothly that getting lost in the action is easy. The story found within tells a story that has been told many times before, but with the charm that only Ratchet & Clank can deliver.
While a tiny bit of that charm got lost in this entry, the spirit of the dynamic duo is still alive and well on PS4. If anything, this game stands only to make people more excited to see the iconic lombax and his metal pal appear on the PS5.