This generation of video games has seen more than its fair share of remakes and remasters of classic games. Some of them are with merit, others have been disappointing, and Sony appears to be one of the biggest offenders. We've seen almost every major franchise get a remaster or re-release. Be it lacklustre high definition releases like Uncharted, or meaningful additions like Gravity Rush, the company's had to make do with rehashing its greatest hits in lieu of a strong roster of exclusive games this generation.
And then there's Ratchet & Clank. Not to be confused with the 2002 PS2 game of the same name, it's a re-imagining of the breakout platforming and shooting hit that helped the PS2 become one of the most successful consoles ever. Thanks to its title, it could be easy to label Ratchet & Clank as simply a crisper looking version of a beloved classic. However, there's more to this remake. For starters, it looks good enough to give Pixar's animated offerings an inferiority complex. It's built ground up for the PS4 with environments ranging from giant factories to cities under siege, all of which are stunningly polished.
From the fur on protagonist Ratchet's head, to the metallic sheen on the many killer robots you encounter, it's evident that a lot of love went into making this game go above and beyond your usual reboot.
Sony might be billing Uncharted 4 as its visual masterpiece, but Ratchet & Clank does a fine job of showing what the PS4 is capable of. Great looks aside, there's a fair bit of story-telling. The game is set in the fictional galaxy of Solana with human-like creatures and alien lifeforms coexisting in relative peace. You'll take on the role of Ratchet, an anthropomorphic furry character known as a lombax. Soon enough, you'll meet Clank, a robot set for the scrapyard. It's here that things start to snowball into a plot that has you saving the planets of the galaxy from certain doom.
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Old timers might notice that the game's events take place at a faster clip compared to the original. This is because the plot has been modified to include elements from the upcoming animated film. There's an expanded origin story and a slew of cutscenes including footage from the movie. It does a good job of keeping players up to speed with what's going on and is accessible to newcomers as well.
For the most part it's an entertaining adventure filled with witty one-liners that take stabs at nerd culture and video game pre-orders as well as some easter eggs that poke fun at other franchises like Halo.
The narrative isn't the only element that's received significant enhancements. Gameplay is suitably improved as well. Rather than sticking to the same controls and weapons from the original, developer Insomniac took inspiration from later games in the series, such as the PS3 classic Ratchet & Clank: Future Tools of Destruction. This results in a snappier, more intuitive gameplay experience that makes the best use of the Dual Shock 4 controller, with features such as the ability to strafe and jump just as you would expect in a modern platforming game. The controls are accurate and responsive, making traversal a hassle-free affair.
The majority of the game has you playing as Ratchet, with Clank strapped to your back, providing you added manoeuvrability by letting you hover in the air or propelling yourself underwater. At times you'll play as Clank, navigating through smaller pathways and interacting with Gadgebots - diminutive robots that can allow him to access to higher ground or open doors. These sections are a welcome break from the shooting and jumping segments that make up the core gameplay. Apart from this, Insomniac has managed to inject a healthy amount of freshness in the gameplay too, with new sequences and bosses to encounter.
This is possible because unlike the original, events here are narrated by Captain Qwark - a cowardly, vain superhero who is Ratchet's idol. Without spoiling much, it results in a refreshed game with an excellent sense of pacing, and a whole lot more to do. But the biggest draw is the arsenal at your disposal.
Much like Sunset Overdrive, the Resistance series, and Insomniac's previous Ratchet & Clank games, this reboot is packed with a variety of interesting guns. And there are a lot of guns, backed up by a robust upgrade system allowing you to increase range and damage or add new effects to your attacks. From the Groovitron which could make hulking monsters quite literally dance to your tune (with each foe having its own animation) to the Pixelizer, which turns enemies into 8-bit characters, the variety is aplenty. That's not even counting what you can unlock by collecting cards or holocards as the game calls them, dropped by enemies in combat or through exploration. All of these go a long way in making Ratchet & Clank a joy to play as each weapon has a different and unique impact on the opposition.
Our grouses are minor and technical. For one, there was minor slowdown in some busy sections and motion blur is liberally used. Though some might prefer its use, we would've like an option to turn it off.
All in all, if you're new to the series, this game a great starting point. At the same time, if you're someone who has played every game in the franchise (including the half-baked spin-offs) there's more than just a sense of nostalgia to bring you back. With extraordinary attention to detail and a slew of warranted, purposeful additions to core content and gameplay, Ratchet & Clank on the PS4 is well worth the price of entry.
Rating (out of 10): 9
We played a retail copy of Ratchet & Clank on the PS4. Although the game will not get an official physical retail release in India, you should be able to purchase it digitally when it is available on April 20. Or if you can't wait, you can pre-order it digitally and play it on April 12 via the US PlayStation Store for $39.99 (around Rs. 2,662) using our guide.