Rule number one when it comes to successful game franchises: don’t tinker with what ain’t broken. So many a new Ratchet and Clank fan would probably find themselves surprised by how at-home they would feel when playing The Ratchet and Clank Trilogy – games 1-3 remastered in HD and stereoscopic 3D for the PlayStation 3. Whilst the current-gen Future series may have the upper-hand graphically, there’s very little to separate it from its trio of daddies – and this makes the trilogy an essential buy for those who missed out first time around.
• Developer: Insomniac Games/Idol Minds
• Publisher: Sony
• Reviewed on: PlayStation 3
• Release Date: Out Now (Europe), August 28th (US)
For a decade-old series, the PS2 era platformers are looking fine. Idol Minds have given each game a good once-over with a sharpening brush and the results are chunky, if occasionally uncomfortably edgy upgraded graphics. Textures have made the leap in style too, occasionally patchy and muddied, but by and large hardly offensive. Each title looks like a PS2 game upscaled that little bit further than normal – but that may be because they are.
For those unfamiliar, the Ratchet and Clank series stars the titlar Lombax – think a particularly fuzzy, bipedal marsupial/cat cross – and tiny robot on a series of intergalactic adventures alongside a cast of predictably wacky and genuinely hilarious characters. Having the trio of titles together is a treat, even for seasoned space travellers, because a good week or so of gameplay can see you through most of the series and experience first-hand what many experienced over a number of years as Insomniac pushed the titles out one-by-one.
While the original Ratchet and Clank was a pedestrian, risk-free endeavour of slingshots, flamethrowers and suck cannons propelling smaller enemies into bigger ones, the confidence that came with the series’ success is easy to see. The weapons become more extravagant, the weapon-based combat better refined with the introduction of proper strafing, the script sharper and funnier; not that it’s third-rate writing in any case. The Third title Up Your Arsenal even delivers the original title’s online multiplayer, intact as it was in 2004. Nothing has been left unconsidered, no stone left unturned.
The pitch-perfect platforming is as good as it ever was, and the difficulty of the game wavers between walk-in-the-park levels and grin-inducing, hearty challenge. Things may well occasionally confuse – these games harken from an era where the Triangle button was used to go back in menus, and the camera drags itself around the screen like a slug on a hot day. The cut-scenes, originally running as pre-rendered rather than inside the live game engine, look fine on smaller HD sets, but on your 40” living room behemoth, they’re not going to look great. But these are nitpicks rather than detrimental flaws.
For the price – 24 quid on the PlayStation Store, and probably around that on disc if you shop online – there are worse games this generation to pick up, and the transition to HD has been largely smooth and trouble-free. Continuing to serve as stellar examples of platforming done brilliantly – and then some – The Ratchet and Clank Trilogy serves up enough laughs, variety, compromise-free platforming and shooting to keep you entertained for some time to come. To nitpick at the tiny flaws seems like an empty endeavour – like disliking the Mona Lisa because, y’know, it’s a bit old.