New to Me: Ratchet & Clank– Has Ratchet Aged Well?
Ratchet & Clank is one of those PS2 series that somehow passed me by. I played Sly Cooper, Jak and Daxter, and God of War, but for some reason I never picked up Ratchet & Clank. It’s a series that is still going on today on the PS3, and I have friends who are hardcore fans of the franchise. So I decided to pick up the Ratchet & Clank HD Collection to see if it lives up to the hype.
The game begins with a small robot, named Clank, finding evil plans. He steals a ship and tries to find someone to stop those plans. He crash lands on a planet where he meets Ratchet, a fuzzy animal-like biped. Clank manages to convince Ratchet to help save the galaxy, or at least find someone who can save the galaxy.
The story is very basic. It’s only there to string you along the various planets that act as levels. Most of the time the levels boil down to following one of several routes until you get to the end where you have to do a sidequest to get a new item or access to the next planet. Then you get transported back to the beginning of the level to choose another path. Repeat until you realize you need an item to continue, or until you finished all of the paths. It becomes very formulaic and repetitive.
The gameplay itself is pretty fun. Ratchet can long jump, and Clank can be upgraded to give you double jumps, rocket jumps, and a glide. You also get a multitude of weapons. You eventually get to use a flamethrower, a rocket launcher, tiny suicidal robots, and so much more. The guns are fun and creative, but when fighting airborne enemies it becomes a pain. There is a first person aiming mode, but it is clunky and difficult to use when under fire. The strength of the gameplay comes from its platforming.
There are a few problems with the game, however. Checkpoints are few and far between, and enemies respawn after you die, but you lose whatever ammo you used before dying. This isn’t too bad, as there are usually places where you can buy ammo close to checkpoints, and ammo isn’t too expensive. The significantly more annoying part of the game is the stupid hoverboard races. You can tell how bad this minigame is from the very beginning. Rather than having a countdown to start the race, they just throw you in without any warning. It really throws you off the first time you attempt it. It only gets worse from there. You have to win the race in order to continue the game. The problem is that all of the other racers are much faster than you. You have to hit speed boosts in order to win. But you have to be absolutely perfect and hit every single one or else you will lose. It’s frustrating, annoying, and required if you want to continue the game.
Honestly, I didn’t finish the game. I got to the second hoverboard race where you have to fill up a style bar in addition to coming in first. I tried for an hour, then couldn’t be bothered. The rest of the game is decent. It’s an early PS2 game, and if I was younger I would have loved it. The story is meh and predictable. If you are looking to get into the series, I would suggest looking further up the line. Ratchet & Clank is an OK game with one huge black mark.
Images taken from the Ratchet & Clank website here.
Buy the HD Collection pack from Amazon here.