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Ratchet & Clank (2016) Review

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It’s tough to determine how faithful Ratchet & Clank (2016) was to the original when Ratchet & Clank: Tools of Destruction was my first experience with the Lombax. Some additions — weapons and abilities — were easy to recognize but what about story beats and the cutscenes? Did they air on the side of faithfulness and purposely not flesh out certain elements? It’s why I prefer revisiting a remaster if I were to play it for the first time. Through remasters, it’s easy for me to remain grounded by the fact that standards were different then and certain shortcomings were accepted.

The last Ratchet & Clank game that I played was the fantastic A Crack in Time and, on a fundamental level, this 2016 remake of the PlayStation 2 classic controlled just as well as that. I think they remapped R1 with a instant long jump capability but that’s the only difference that I can recall. I had no complaints with how Ratchet & Clank played. The weapons weren’t as inventive or outlandish as the ones found in the Ratchet & Clank Future series on PlayStation 3 but I chalked that to them staying faithful to the original in that regard.

The structure of the game was reminiscent of the Future series as well. There were space dog fighting, rail grinding, not so great races and the sprawling 3D spaces for Ratchet and his robot companion to wreak havoc in. There weren’t as many bosses as I would have liked but again, I don’t know if that was a product of being faithful to the original or not.

As silly as it may sound, I was excited to play Ratchet & Clank for story reasons. I wanted to see how Ratchet met Clank, how they formed their bond and why Ratchet decided to wear his robot companion as a backpack. They answered the first question and dabbled with the second and just assumed the third question was silly and went along with the notion of wearing robots was normal.

I was really hoping they fleshed out their relationship more but instead we saw the development of Captain Qwark and Ratchet’s relationship. I never knew Qwark was the jealous type. But as nice enlightening as that nugget was, I wanted to know more about the actual stars of the franchise. We found out that Clank was a defective war robot who sought the help of the good guys. We also saw how the two met but those were just bread and butter origin story moments. I wanted to see how Peter Parker made his webshooters; I wanted to know what made Ratchet think it was a good idea to wear Clank on his back to enhance his own abilities. We didn’t get those answers and that was a missed opportunity.

Whether or not those story omissions were in the original or not will not be answered short of me playing the original PlayStation 2 game. One thing I was certain with was Insomniac’s technical ability; Ratchet & Clank looked marvelous. They invoked the same silly reaction when I saw Tools of Destruction the first time: “This looks like a Pixar movie”. It’s an easy observation to make but as long as they continue releasing impressive looking games with this wonderful art style, those comparisons will never cease.

I played through Ratchet & Clank on hard difficulty and I can see myself revisiting it to wrap up trophies. It’s not my favorite in the series but it’s still Ratchet & Clank action platforming and the formula still works in 2016. I just hope they continue to find inventive ways to remix the formula a la A Crack in Time.

It’s okay

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