Timeless classics are those games which we should always cherish. They are the games that have not only captured our imaginations, but also many hours of our lives growing up. The Ratchet and Clank games fit this description perfectly, as they carried the torch which was passed on from Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon, the previous kings of platform games. The original trilogy on the PS2 will always be seen as some of the most prominent platformers of the console’s lifespan, building a legacy of over-the-top adventure, non-stop action, and memorable characters. So when the news first broke of the Ratchet and Clank HD Collection being released on the PS3, were we a little excited to relive the adventures again? You bet we were!
Now celebrating its tenth year as a series, the Ratchet and Clank games (excluding All 4 One, which made us die a little inside) have always delivered a fun and imaginative array of characters in a plot that may not be overly complex, but is more than capable of drawing you in. The success of the franchise can be attributed to how easily you can get to grips with the controls, your desire to explore a new planet every level, and using some of the most unique weapons ever devised by the human mind.
Those who have only played the “future perfect” series don’t fully understand that the bond Ratchet and Clank share had been built and developed from the very first game. Now, with the HD collection finally being released, new gamers can play the series from the very beginning to gain some insight into the relationship between Ratchet and Clank and see how they became who they are in the “future perfect” trilogy. Also, gamers new to the original trilogy can sink their teeth into three more stories starring the heroes for hire. From stopping Chairman Dreck to the Protopet saga to their first encounter with Dr Nefarious, there is plenty to learn and enjoy in the trilogy. For the older gamers who bought the PS2 versions, it’s a great opportunity to relive fun moments from the trilogy, including the constant humor from Dr Nefarious on behalf of his servant, Lawrence, Captain Qwark for being Captain Qwark, and Ratchet’s “Courtney Gears” dance, just to name a few. Also, with the inclusion of the trophy system, you finally have the sense of accomplishment that was seriously lacking on the PS2. Spending many tireless hours collecting enough bolts in order to get the RYNO or finding all the gold bolts and skill points are some of the many tasks that certainly deserved a trophy. There are several trophies that demand at least a second playthrough, so the longevity of the HD collection is immense!
The HD-rendered graphics make the game look smoother while still maintaining its original charm as an outlandish, over-the-top space adventure that feels current, despite being ten years old. The levels look brighter and more vibrant, which pushes the cartoon-style graphics to their full potential in HD. It all looks stunning. However, the same can’t be said for the cut scenes, where the age of the games is displayed prominently. Also, the controls in the first Ratchet and Clank were frustrating; unfortunately, these controls have not been updated. Not being able to strafe while shooting until you unlock the jetpack upgrade makes combat against bigger groups of enemies an unnecessary annoyance. Maintaining a static aiming scheme against larger enemies removes all sense of freedom in combat. This often leaves you opting out of aiming in first-person mode and sticking to weapons that aim in third-person, like the Glove of Doom, to prevent being surrounded all the time. However, the developers have improved the controls in the other two installments. It would have been nice if the little nagging things were corrected so that the HD trilogy could compete with the refined controls that the “future” trilogy boasts.
The music in the Ratchet and Clank games really adds to the atmosphere. Whether the sound direction utilizes infectious beats to accommodate a futuristic city or tribal sounds for a jungle, the result is an excellent audio experience. Each piece of music complements its respective level brilliantly, the gunshots resonate better this time around, and the voice acting is as sharp and comical as ever. As a whole, you couldn’t ask for a better upgrade than the package presented here.
To see how the series started off and then see the hard work that has gone into developing each sequel makes you appreciate these games on a whole different level. Each game keeps the best parts of the previous one while trying something new, which gives each installment a fresh feel while maintaining the core of the series. Both trilogies have an undeniable charm about them that makes you want to experience the stories over and over again. To be able to play both trilogies on one system is a great move by Sony and something every fan of the series should thank them for! The Ratchet and Clank HD Collection is a great example of how an HD re-release should be done. Now all that is left to do is create a new trilogy and keep the story alive!
This review is based on retail copy of the Playstation 3 verion of the Ratchet and Clank Trilogy by Insomniac Games