Review: Ratchet & Clank (PS4)

2016 Golden Minecart Awards:

  • Best HD Remake/Remaster (PS4)
  • Best Family Friendly Game (PS4)

Formats:

  • PlayStation 4

Format/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4
  • HDTV

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
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Title: Ratchet & Clank
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PSN (26.3 GB)
Release Date: April 12, 2016 (NA) / April 20, 2016 (EU)
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: Insomniac Games
Original MSRP: $39.99
ESRB Rating: E10+
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Early Preview Article:
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Audio Review:
The audio review for this game is available on Episode 470 of the podcast at 14:18.

Gameplay:
One of our favorite platforming-adventure duos from the PlayStation 2 has returned. Let’s get this out of the way right up front. If you’ve already played the original Ratchet & Clank, either on the PlayStation 2 or the ports to the PlayStation 3 and Vita, this will still be a new experience for you.

Sure, it’ll feel very familiar, especially across the first few planets. It’s the the start of everything, Ratchet meets Clank, wants to join the Galactic Rangers and save the galaxy, but then the game takes a hard left and there’s no looking back. This is truly a reimagining of the origin story and it is, of course, tied into the movie arriving April 29th.

Funny thing about that though, I feel I can say that this is unequivocally the best game adaptation of a movie ever made. Or will it be the best movie based on a video game ever made? That’s where things get weird, and you know Insomniac will take advantage of that. And they do, in the first five minutes of the game.

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Sit back and enjoy because the party never stops. Insomniac has taken everything they’ve learned over the past fourteen years and distilled it down to the quintessential Ratchet & Clank experience. Story, weapons, enemies, humor, it’s all here and it’s better than ever, along with a ton of cool unlockables as well.

The little refinements make the biggest difference for veterans and newcomers alike. The good old weapon wheel is still available but I didn’t use it at all. That’s because of the new quick select tied to the D-pad, which can be customized on the fly by the way.

… the Groovitron, Mr. Zurkon, the Sheepinator …
It’s a simple thing and it changes combat completely. Any weapon can be assigned to each of the four directions which allows for a quick switch between weapons without taking you out of the action. With the huge number of weapons (eventually) available, it becomes a very welcome addition.

As for the weapons themselves, the developers have pulled from across the entire franchise and brought in some new items as well. Many fan favorites like the Groovitron, Mr. Zurkon, the Sheepinator, and the RYNO, all make an appearance but I found myself gravitating to a lot of the newer choices.

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The weapons also include the Raritanium upgrades first seen in the Ratchet & Clank Future series on the PlayStation 3. Raritanium can be acquired by killing enemies or by finding it hidden throughout the game.

In both cases it’s relatively rare and you won’t find enough to upgrade everything in one playthrough so choose your upgrades wisely. The weapons also level up through use so it’s a good idea to vary your destructive choices throughout the game.

… it’s very worthwhile to go out of your way looking for holocards …
Holocards are a new addition to the series and a clever twist on the old hidden collectibles. Much like Raritanium, you’ll be awarded individual cards for defeating certain enemies or you can find packs of three hidden throughout the levels.

Completing full sets of three will give you equipment enhancements so it’s very worthwhile to go out of your way looking for holocards. Additionally, you can trade in five extra cards for any card you’re missing, allowing you to complete specific sets as you go.

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The only exception to that is with the RYNO cards. You’ll have to find every one of those hidden throughout the game, there’s no trading for any of them. Once complete, return them to a specific person and he’ll build you your very own RYNO.

Overall, I think the major change that I’m most happy with is that Ratchet and Clank don’t have that “falling out” from the original game. Let’s face it, Ratchet was kind of a dick and it always felt out of place in the story, to me anyway.

… access to a ton of cool memorabilia …
Finish the game and the Challenge Mode is unlocked. It’s essentially a New Game Plus mode with stronger enemies. If you’ve leveled up any weapons past Level Five and completed their holocard set, the Omega Variant is available to purchase. It’s a nice excuse to play through the game again and pick up any Trophies you may have missed.

You’ll also unlock the Insomniac Museum which gives you access to a ton of cool memorabilia. It’s a treasure trove of stuff in vaults where you can wander around and look at things, including videos, but you can’t touch. The hardcore fans will love it.

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Visuals:
You thought Ratchet & Clank looked good in the past? Wait till you see this one. With the release date of the movie getting pushed back, Insomniac had a lot of time to put some extra polish on the game, and boy does it shine.

If you played the original, a lot of the early areas will look familiar. The changes though can be both subtle and arresting. The level of detail now available in the game puts everything else in the series to shame.

… their best looking game to date …
The lighting alone makes such a big difference in bringing the world to life, then add in the backgrounds, enemies, weapons firing, and bolts flying, and you’ve got something else entirely. Having the extra time has allowed Insomniac to make their best looking game to date, regardless of platform or franchise.

Among the unlockables are changes to the color palette allowing you to give the game a retro Seventies look, black and white, sepia tone, and more.

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Audio:
The original voice actors, James Arnold Taylor, David Kaye, and Jim Ward are back as Ratchet, Clank, and Captain Quark respectively. There’s also some crossover with several of the voice actors from the film making an appearance. It’s easy to say that the voice acting is stellar all around.

… enough twists to surprise longtime fans …
The music along with the weapons, bolts and other ambient sounds will make fans of the series feel right at home. For everyone else, expect nothing but the best.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is singleplayer only with no online component.

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Conclusion:
You may think you’ve played this game before but trust me, you haven’t. This is a full-on reimagining of the origin story for these characters and while some of it is familiar, there are enough twists to surprise longtime fans.

Insomniac brings a fresh new take on the Ratchet & Clank series, complete with all the gameplay tweaks and improvements from the franchise over the years. Don’t let the budget price fool you, this is a massive game that stands comfortably alongside other triple-A titles.

The only thing that leaves me wanting is the question of whether this is a one-off or a reboot of the entire franchise. I’m happy with the idea of a reboot/reimagining based on what I’ve played and I’m dying for the next installment.

Score:
9.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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