Ratchet & Clank has been rebooted with a movie adaptation coming out in a few weeks that is based on the game, which is based on the movie. Weird, I know. As a reimagining of the first game, it was exciting to see familiar planets and characters for the first time in over a decade, and to play a game dear to my heart. It has the modern systems that have made the series great while returning to the series’ roots. Despite an average arsenal of weapons, Ratchet & Clank is a gorgeous game with that familiar humor and is a fantastic entry for anyone looking to get into the series.
Often, especially during the cutscenes, Ratchet & Clank looks like a Pixar film. There seems to be more cutscenes than before, but they work well in their attempt to show a more cohesive story. Seeing Ratchet denied an opportunity to fight alongside the Galactic Rangers was upsetting and the visuals helped set the scene. On top of that, some of the scenes look like they belong right in the upcoming film and I wouldn’t be surprised if some are. The game is bright and colorful and whether swimming on the tropical planet Pokitaru, or fighting enemies on Ratchet’s brown and orange home planet of Veldin, the colors mesh perfectly for some gorgeous backdrops while exploring all of the unique vistas. It seems like this is what Insomniac Games had in mind with the first game, but they couldn’t achieve the look due to technical limitations.
The biggest misstep is the array of weaponry. Popular weapons like the Groovitron and Glove of Doom are fun for newcomers, but I was disappointed because there are only two new toys, the Pixelizer and the Proton Drum. The Pixelizer is a shotgun that will turn enemies into 8-bit pixels if it hits them, delivering a cool visual effect. The Proton Drum attacks enemies within its range and is deadly when it’s fully upgraded. Longtime fans will certainly appreciate these classic guns and hopefully Insomniac is given the chance to create more unique weapons in subsequent entries if this reboot is successful. Ratchet & Clank has always showcased weapons that are silly, powerful and fun, and it largely remains true here, but I found myself annoyed there wasn’t much new and it seemed like Insomniac didn’t want to take too many chances. But with this being a reboot, I can’t fault them for, pun intended, sticking to their guns.
The game draws ideas from throughout the series, like leveling weapons and increasing Ratchet’s health. I was always a huge fan of this because it incentivizes using less powerful weapons more often instead of exclusively using the few, overpowered ones. Raritanium makes its return, allowing you to upgrade each gun’s stats, which provides for deeper customization than simply increasing a gun’s level. Fully upgrading each gun feels satisfying because you increase its ammo, receive bonus bolts, the gun’s rate of fire and more. My absolute favorite thing is new game plus because you’re able to continue upgrading guns and accumulating a vast number of bolts so you can buy every gun and its upgraded version. It makes for a greater challenge too, which is always a bonus.
The newest idea is the Holocard collection. Defeating enemies will sometimes drop a weapon, planet, or character card and each card belongs to a set which rewards nice bonuses for completing these sets. Completing a weapon set by collecting three similar weapons will unlock its Omega version that is usable in challenge mode, or completing a planet set will increase the number of bolts that appear or the amount of Raritanium that drops. It’s an addictive feature that I’m a big fan of. There’s also card packs that contain five cards instead of the one that enemies drop, and if you’re lucky enough, you’ll find a Ryno card, which is its own challenge if you want the illusive gun. You can even increase the drop rate for Holocards themselves, and if you have five duplicates, you can trade those in for a card you might not have. I’m on my second playthrough and I’m still finding new cards.
Insomniac retained its creativity and enhanced some of my favorite things from the original game. I’ve always enjoyed exploring the crevices of each planet for Gold Bolts and other goodies, and now there are also the aforementioned card packs which makes exploring each planet more rewarding. I’ve grown to appreciate the uniqueness of each planet. They’re all distinct, whether it be the hoverboard race on Rilgar or exploring the metropolis on Kerwan, they’re all fun planets. As a whole it makes the Ratchet & Clank universe feel more alive and you’re not stuck on one planet.
In my opinion, this reimagining of the original Ratchet & Clank is effective for a few big reasons: Most importantly, it appeals to a younger demographic, which is what I believe the film is intended to achieve. It’s more cinematic than previous games, as it goes more into the origins of the protagonists than the original did. It shows a more interesting arc of Ratchet and what both he and Clank want to achieve. It sets up the movie well and leaves me excited to see how much of the game will be in the film. Secondly, the humor has been toned down for a more accessible approach. Previous games had raunchy and mature jokes that would surely go over a younger person’s head, like myself in 2002, so I appreciate the humor being more kid-friendly, but enough to make older fans laugh too.
I first played Ratchet & Clank way back in 2002 and the reboot is a wonderful trip down memory lane. The game looked nice back then but seeing everything in a more realized way brought a smile to my face. It’s like I never stopped playing because the layout of the planets and the interactions are engrained in my brain so it all looks and feels familiar. I remember invading Chairman Drek’s space station and entering a room full of cages and enemies; the shady salesman in Blackwater City who wants to Rip You a New One (RYNO). It’s a comfortable feeling, but new boss fights, planets and story moments help keep in fresh. It’s a balance that works well – keeping the foundation but adding new things so it isn’t just a straight up remake.
This reboot of the classic Ratchet & Clank is a wonderful game. It captures what made the first game so memorable while adding things to make it stick out. I’m a huge fan of the more cinematic approach in preparation for the film and the fact that it’s now more accessible to new fans and veterans, and older people and younger. It’s a gorgeous game that anyone with a prior history to the series should play and the perfect entry for anyone looking to play it for the first time. Unfortunately the weapon selection isn’t the greatest, in my opinion, but there are still some truly creative guns.
-Lack of new weapons
Brett Woodmansee is an editor for The Game Bolt and he loves RPGs, Chipotle and his beard. For tweets about video games, sports and more, follow him on Twitter.