Ratchet & Clank (2016) Review

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.

Verdict:
It’s okay

Ratings Guide

LTTP: Sunset Overdrive

LTTP: Sunset Overdrive

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LTTP or ‘late to the party’ pieces are opportunities for me to catch up and write about games I missed out on the first time around. They may contain spoilers.

I flip flopped on Sunset Overdrive prior to its release. I groaned at their E3 2014 trailer but then saw past the attitude laden douche and pre-ordered it during FutureShop’s E3 promotion. But as launch day approached, I cold feet and returned it. A couple of months later, as Boxing Day 2014 was happening, I saw it for $25 and couldn’t refuse.

I played Sunset Overdrive as a spunky Asian lady because I wanted to distance myself from the marketing. To my surprise, it worked out. She was actually a likeable character. I gave her an orange, yellow and red themed outfit and even though I unlocked additional wardrobe options, I kept up with theme and it eventually grew to define Sunset Overdrive’s heroine. If they make another game, I hope to continue her adventures.

If Infamous was a serious spin on an original superhero game, then Sunset Overdrive was the goofy take. I’m not a Deadpool expert but the tone of Sunset Overdrive reminded me of Marvel’s fourth wall breaking anti-hero. The protagonist often recognized she was in a video game. The references ranged from subtle knocking back of the third person camera to her speaking with the tutorial’s narrator. I found it endearing albeit cheeky as well.

Acknowledging that this was a video game and not a “video game pretending to be something else” gave Insomniac carte blanche on their hero’s abilities. She was able to endlessly grind on powerlines, building ledges and other similar surfaces. She was also given the ability to bounce ludicrously high off certain objects, wall run to her heart’s content, air dash and slide across water. It was easily the best traversal options introduced into an Insomniac game but I would go further and say it was the best traversal of any open world game.

 

I didn’t hit the ground running though. It took me a half hour or so to I acclimatize to the mechanics but once I unlocked all the options: everything clicked. I thoroughly enjoyed getting around the city and collected all the junk that was strewn throughout. I haven’t been this impressed by a game’s traversal mechanics since the original Infamous.

Stringing together the different traversal moves kept me off the ground. There were survivability benefits for being up high but being in constant motion was more important. I was able to dodge and survive huge swathes of mutants when I was moving about. Insomniac’s effort to distance itself from modern military shooters was in full effect but what made this game distinctly Insomniac were the array of weapons at my disposal. Creative weapons shooting fireworks, exploding stuffed animals and the summoning of tornadoes and lightning strikes were distinctly Insomniac. I’ve seen variations of these weapons throughout the years but I still enjoyed the whimsical spins Insomniac bestowed on these otherwise normal cast of weapons.

I wasn’t a fan of the upgrade system or the surrounding song and dance that I had to perform to unlock more upgrades. Usage based leveling I can accept but they added an additional layer to the mix that I didn’t care for. I dreaded having to navigate the cluttered and clunky menus. I dreaded having to defend another Overcharge vat by playing another solo horde mode mission. The traps weren’t fun to use because I never get to see them in action since I’m scurrying between different attack points and not paying attention to the different traps that I’ve deployed. By the end, I had more success using my own deployable weapons.

Binding the chaos and movement was a style meter. The more traversal moves and kills that I strung together, the more style points I received. More style equated to added attack powers but it also added music. If I wasn’t playing stylishly, Sunset Overdrive was aurally vapid. I liked the idea behind it but I wished the baseline wasn’t silence — maybe something low key — but not silence.

I was wowed by the boss battles in Sunset Overdrive. Open world titles that take advantage of the fact that they’re in large sprawling spaces are aces in my book. Boss fights can be more than bouts in restricted areas. It was refreshing to see that I was asked to employ my traversal skill sets and navigate a sizeable chunk of the city while combatting a giant angry dragon.

I don’t know why Insomniac decided to use energy drinks as their source of mutation. I don’t know why they decided to be so “in your face” with the game’s marketing. I am certain that they did it all to be unique and while some of Sunset Overdrive may have fallen flat there was a lot to it that I enjoyed as well. It’s certainly one of the highlight titles in Insomniac Games’ history though.

Verdict:
I like it

Ratings Guide

Ratchet & Clank movie will be a reality in 2015

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Ever since Ratchet & Clank: Tools of Destruction (my first R&C game), I wondered why Insomniac Games & Sony didn’t pull the trigger on a Ratchet & Clank movie. Electronic Arts even went down the path of bringing Dead Space to DVD and they don’t have an animation studio under their belt.

Today the wondering ceased with the release of this Ratchet & Clank movie teaser:

If they didn’t mention that was a movie, it could have been a teaser for a new game.

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New Fuse trailer showcases promise

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That wasn’t too bad. There was more color this time around and the game’s strength, the characters, were given more limelight. I am disappointed by the lack of inspiration with their levels and backdrops though. There’s a disconnect between the generic backdrops and lighthearted characters. This dichotomy is something that I feel they could rectify in a sequel but I have a gut feeling it won’t warrant that.

I continue to follow Fuse’s media campaign despite the surrounding negativity. I don’t intend to purchase this outside of a steep sale but I am fascinated by Insomniac’s first third party effort. It’s a game that continues displease Insomniac fans, so I am very curious how/if Insomniac turns it around.

Fuse debuts March 2013 on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

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