When I first got my PS2 (admittedly late in the game for the console), the original Ratchet & Clank trilogy of games were some of the first titles I picked up. They had polish, they had VOICE ACTING – still amazing to me at the time! – and an excellent mix of puzzle-platforming and unique gunplay that really sucked me in. Since then I’ve picked up each successive game and loved its progression to the PS3.
Realistically, not a lot of the meat of these games has changed in their HD upgrade. Gameplay and story are unchanged, but all have been given a fresh coat of paint. It seems redundant to review the games themselves some ten years after they first came out, so I’ll give a brief recap for those not in the know and move on to discussing their HD treatments.
The Ratchet & Clank games revolve around Ratchet, the last known Lombax (cat-fox-person) in the galaxy and his computerised compadre Clank, a pintsize robot with a penchant for humor. They first meet in the original Ratchet & Clank, when an Ambiguously Evil Space-Businessman by the name of Drek decides to take a chunk of Ratchet’s homeworld to build a new planet for his race to live on. Clank is a ‘runt’ robot who is let in on Ambassdor Drek’s plan by his mum-factory, and sets out to save the galaxy from his evil machinations with help from Ratchet. In the followup Ratchet & Clank 2 – also known by the name Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando in some territories – follows the duo to a new galaxy where a vocabulary-challenged scientist needs help tracking down his secret and not-so-safe animal experiment. Lastly in Ratchet & Clank 3/Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal (I honestly don’t know what was going on with those titles), Ratchet and Clank set out to defend the galazy against robotic overlord Doctor Nefarious, who is attempting to take over their home galaxy.
All three games are well-known for their sense of humour, and more importantly for their weapons selection. Setting aside the standard pistol/missiles/grenades/shotgun selection of most shooter games, R&C have always had a knack for unique gadgets and weapons. Favourites include the Qwack-O-Ray (turns enemies into ducks), Synthenoid launcher (creates an NPC robot combat helper) and the mainstay of the series, the RYNO (Rip You a New One – launches rockets in bulk). Additionally each weapon has multiple upgrade levels that increase its power and abilities, making weapon-upskilling a goal in any of the games.
With that all said, let’s take a look game-by-game and see how they fared in their remastering:
Ratchet & Clank
Honestly, I’d say the first game seems to have gotten the most love out of the three games. Graphical quality is crisp and the colour palette of the levels is just as intense as I remember. Although cutscenes are presented in 4:3 rather than 16:9 like the rest of the game, they too have been remastered to a high level of quality. The menus and title screen have also seen an uptick in quality, adjusted accordingly for the new widescreen presentation. This is a nice touch that hasn’t always been evident in these HD Classics – the Devil May Cry collection comes to mind. Lastly, the audio sounds lovely and crisp throughout – there’s a little fuzziness in some pre-rendered cutscenes but overall it’s a well-done port.
Ratchet & Clank 2
I felt a little let-down going into the second title – right from the outset the menu screen is still at its original quality and presented in 4:3, and on top of this seemed to run slightly chunky on my PS3. The game itself has received the necessary polish, although I found myself immediately put off by the non-inverted camera controls – this has been standard fare in games for a while now, so it would’ve been nice for Idol Minds/Insomniac to tweak the default setting when they were doing the conversion.
Ratchet & Clank 3
Once again, cutscenes feel like they didn’t get the same TLC that the original title’s did. The title screen is also presented in 4:3 once again – I’m not sure why only the first game had this issue resolved, to be honest. That aside, audio and graphics have once again been polished very well, without changing the game itself.
All in all this is a high-caliber entry for the HD Classics selection, setting aside some inconsistencies in the level of remastering. At its core, the HD trilogy is there for some slightly nicer-looking nostalgia, and it accomplishes this well. There aren’t any bonus features to speak of besides trophy support, but all of the inbuilt skill point challenges are retained to really test you in-game. If you’re feeling retrospective for the catguy-and-robot games, give this collection a whirl. If you’ve never tried the series it’s a must-have addition to your Sony collection.