LTTP: Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart [PS5]

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Insomniac Games have made a lot of Ratchet & Clank games. I was introduced to the franchise on the PlayStation 3 with Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction. I followed up with Quest for Booty and then the excellent A Crack in Time. I skipped the rest of the PlayStation 3 entries before checking out the remake, Ratchet & Clank on PlayStation 4. That brings us to Rift Apart which I kept my eye on since its release in 2021.

A lot has happened to Insomniac Games since their 2016 remake; their excellent Spider-man and its follow-up, Miles Morales, propelled them to new heights of popularity and recognition. I was curious what lessons they learned from their time with Spider-man and how it impacted their staple franchise, Ratchet & Clank. 

Evidently, its impact was not as transformative as I hoped. For better and worse, this felt like a Ratchet & Clank game. I am certain their were significant playability improvements from their 2016 game that I forgot about, but in my mind, this still feels like Tools of Destruction to me. Combat feels slightly disconnected with no real punch behind shots; no amount of haptic feedback or DualSense trigger tricks made these larger than life weapons feel powerful. The melee combat felt like it always did; flat and nothing like landing the punches in their Spider-man games.

The Ratchet & Clank games were always known for the inventive arsenal, but Rift Apart felt lackluster in that department. Each of the weapons had neat DualSense trigger modes, but those gimmicks quickly wore off and left with what I can only describe as the standard weapon archetypes. 

Multi-dimensional hijinks is all the rage these days, so it was fitting to see it take video game form. Aside from the ray tracing, the big claim to fame for Ratchet & Clank was how quickly we were able to transition from one world to another. It was impressive on a technical level, but when the rapid transitions were just part of a larger rail grinding set piece, I couldn’t help but view it as elaborate sky box changes. It 100% wasn’t the case, but it felt like that. I was actually far more impressed with how quickly I loaded into each level.

The story seemingly took advantage of the fact that you may have watched a movie or two about multiverses because it handled the meeting of Ratchet and Rivet quite clumsily and quick. It felt like they wanted to get on with the game and just have you play through the game with the two of them as quickly as possible. Functionally they behaved like reskins of one another with weapons and ability progress magically transferring between the two of them. Personality and story wise? It felt like they didn’t know how to make Ratchet’s contributions meaningful. Rivet had the benefit of origin story and exploration of their home world and dimension, but Ratchet felt like a bit of an afterthought.

Ratchet & Clank Rift Apart didn’t reach the heights of A Crack in Time, but that’s alright. It’s a solid game for newcomers and like all the previous releases, one of the more visually accomplished titles of their generation. It is a looker, but as a long time fan, I was hoping for a bit more than just the discovery of another Lombax from another dimension.

Verdict:
It was okay

Ratings Guide

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

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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A new mini Ratchet & Clank game comes this Autumn

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Quest For Booty was alright. $15 for a short adventure isn’t so bad when you split amongst a sibling or something. But $15 for a short adventure with virtually no replay value is a tougher pill to swallow for others which is why Insomniac Games is going to make Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault (great subtitle) with replay value in mind.

They’re adding a tower defence mode of some kind. It will also feature co-op which I’m okay with. Third person tower defense games can work as Trenched/Iron Brigade so clearly demonstrates.

I skipped the last Ratchet & Clank but I’m intrigued by this upcoming instalment in the Lombax franchise.

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