As a duo, Ratchet and Clank mean a lot to me. The furry Lombax and his robotic friend represent countless hours sitting in front of the PlayStation 2, saving up bolts for days on end to finally score that R.H.I.N.O. The re-imagined game seems like a great way to revisit a PlayStation classic, and I’m excited for new players to get to experience such a meaningful part of my childhood.
Over the course of an hour I jumped in from the very start where we first meet Ratchet on Veldin, after a short clip about the Galactic Rangers. This time the rangers are a much more fleshed out group, instead of the original’s solo Captain Qwark, a by-product of the movie tie-in.
A ‘movie tie in’ is a dangerous phrase to attach to a game after some questionable moves in the past, but from what I’ve played Ratchet and Clank does it in a smart way. It blends clips from the upcoming film, in-game cinematics (that look quite a bit like their film counterparts) and the game itself, making it more of a hybrid experience.
While the movie parts deal with moving the story forward, the new and old cinematics help expand the game world. The writing and jokes in the old Ratchet and Clank was for the most part well done, and it keeps that tone with some great, fourth wall breaking jokes fans of the series will get pretty fast.
Kicking off with Ratchet trying out to join the Galactic Rangers, you’ll get to grips with the controls with a simple obstacle course. I fell back into the old rhythm pretty quickly, adapting to the strafe based combat the game featured back on the PS2.
We’re also introduced to Clank earlier than in the original, coming off the production line and escaping. Clank is playable too, with some great robot command based puzzle plat-forming that didn’t enter the series till later entries into the series. The one thing I was a little iffy on was when the game tasks Clank with running away from a large boss, making you run towards the screen and avoid obstacles. It felt a little janky, and while the rest of Clank’s section was great, I hope it doesn’t become a central part of his gameplay.
Once you return to Ratchet you start getting new guns and upgrades quickly. You level up as you go through the game, but now the weapon upgrades are much more fleshed out. By collecting Raritanium you can personalise your guns a lot more, deciding to prioritise damage, ammo capacity or rate of fire. They well-worn over the top gun style of the original games has also returned, with guns from other entries like the Sheepinator and the Groovitron rounding out your vast array of choices.
I visited three planets over my time with the game, Novalis, Veldin and Kerwan – also seeing footage of Aridia. Towards the end of my time I reached a point where the game began to open up, with missions were available on separate planets. Each looked a lot like I remembered, with paths and short-cuts all still there. They had however been tweaked with a faithful attention to detail, retaining the original design with a lot of new architecture and flora.
After completing the early prologue sections, I had my ship and was ready to shoot off around the galaxy, collecting guns, bolts and the new trading cards. These cards were a pretty cool addition that really appealed to me – they detail the characters, world and tech of the Ratchet and Clank universe, giving info on the backstories of what’s on the cards. You can find single cards or whole boosters, delivering a satisfying side section of opening booster packs.
The final moments of my demo took me to Kerwan city, under attack from Chairman Drek. Instead of landing and taking on foes on the ground, flying has been added, allowing combat above and around the floating city islands. The dogfighting and manoeuvring controls all performed well, and shooting down the Blarg was a very satisfying way to close out the demo.
I’m told the game will take around twelve to fifteen hours for the core story, with thirty to forty potential hours to complete the optional content and collect bolts, upgrades and cards. It’s a world I can’t wait to jump back into, seeing what’s the same, what’s different and enjoying the tone of the game.
While it’s a little disappointing we won’t be seeing the movie release alongside the game in Australia come April 20, the movie clips in game will definitely help ease the wait. Ratchet and Clank is shaping up to be great evidence for the case of game remasters and re-imagining. I’ll have to wait till the credits roll to see what I think of the new version of story but for now the game feels really true to its past, and a great way to play the classic title.
Ratchet & Clank hits the PlayStation 4 exclusively on 20th April, 2016. The feature film hits cinemas on June 23rd 2016.