For some, Ratchet and Clank is familiar face of the PS3. For many others, however, it is known as one of the many staples of the PS2 era. In an attempt to cash in on the nostalgia many feel towards this series, Sony has released their newest HD collection, The Ratchet and Clank Collection. Inside this collection you will find the original Ratchet and Clank, Ratchet and Clank: Going Commando, and Ratchet and Clank: Up Your Arsenal, the three main games released by developer Insomniac Games during the PS2's life cycle.
As most know by now, Ratchet and Clank is a platforming/action hybrid with heavy emphasis on third-person shooting with a myriad of interesting weapons at your disposal. This formula does not deviate throughout each game of the collection, though there is more emphasis placed on shooting on each succeeded game. Whereas in the original Ratchet and Clank you will be platforming just as much as shooting, you will be shooting more than third fourths of the time by Up Your Arsenal. While that's not a bad thing, the games do have a tendency to become repetitive as you shoot your way through each area or level. Thankfully, the developers alleviate this tedious repetition by giving you dozens of weapons to choose from, ranging from a basic Combuster to the rocket launching Negotiator. Each weapon has its own unique uses, and some are more effective towards certain enemies, increasing the need for strategy and tactics when facing a roomful of enemies. The platforming sections are skillfully placed in each game to break up or add to the intense combat, and can lead you to riding endless grind rails or using your slingshot to reach new gadgets. Speaking of gadgets, each game gives you supplement items, such as the magnet boots, which help you on your quest to reach inaccessible areas as well as to find the many hidden bolts scattered around each level. Levels in Ratchet and Clank are spread out over multiple planets in the Ratchet and Clank universe, and while each level is fairly linear, there are enough branching paths to keep treasures hunters occupied. Though you will be spending most of your time shooting and jumping with Ratchet, Insomniac did add quite a few Clank sections, of which you will be helping guide tiny robots through a collection of mind taxing puzzles. As Clank, you can command them to follow, attack enemies, stay behind, or go inside a little collection door to open gates. While not as fun as the main Ratchet sections, they help to break up the action and are improved on in each entry of the series.
The Ratchet and Clank games have been know for their visual fidelity, and each game still maintains its charm in this HD conversion. The original game looks a little rough as compared to Going Commando and Up Your Arsenal; however, the latter games look almost good enough to be considered as early PS3 titles. The visuals are pleasing to the eyes and the creativity Insomniac Games put into creating these amazing worlds should be commended. Unfortunately, as with most other HD collections, the cinematically have not been upgraded, and as a result, you are forced to watch them in standard definition, which definitely detracts from the overall presentation of the collection. As mentioned before, the original Ratchet and Clank is considerably rough around the edges than its successors, with no lock on aim mode and floaty physics leading to difficulty landing jumps. Don't be deterred by this though, as Going Commando and Up Your Arsenal greatly improve on their predecessor's missteps, leading to infinitely more enjoyable experiences.
The series signature charm wouldn't be complete without its amusing main characters, the titular Ratchet and Clank. It is enjoyable and entertaining to watch as they battle to take down each game's main villain, and the writing will never leave you bored; in fact, you'll likely play through the next level just to find out what happens next in the story. Ratchet and Clank's transformation from the first to third game is astonishing in all the right ways, as they grow from sterile, unlike able characters to full blown heroes. While Ratchet comes off as cool, calm, and collective, Clank acts as a foil to help keep Ratchet on the task at hand, and he is just as entertaining as the former. The real draw to the story though, is Captain Qwark, a so called hero of the galaxy who causes the most plot twists in the story as well as comic relief at many points. All in all, the story of Ratchet and Clank, while not the most engaging story you'll ever watch and play, is serviceable and will likely leave you satisfied throughout your playtime.
In addition to the three main Ratchet and Clank games, this collection comes with a Ratchet and Clank 10th Anniversary PSN avatar and a demo voucher for the E3 demo of the upcoming Sly Cooper 4: Thieves in Time. This demo is definitely worth your time, and for all you are getting in this collection for the low price of $30, you will be hard pressed to find a better deal for this much content.
Whether you have played the Future trilogy of Ratchet and Clank in PS3 and want to play the origins of Ratchet and Clank, want to play Ratchet and Clank for the first time, or just want to enjoy a nostalgic trip down memory lane, this is a must own HD collection for every PS3 owner. It is rewarding to play Insomniac's fist foray onto the PS2 and to watch as they grew as a developer from game to game, and despite the distinct absence of Ratchet: Deadlocked in this collection, there is no better bargain on the PS3 than this.