Saturday, May 14, 2016

Ratchet and Clank

Rating: 9.4
Happy Price: 39.99


Ratchet and Clank is a third person platformer that focuses on unique weapons, character development, and puzzles. The protagonist has a strong and defined personality which creates for a great narrative. Supporting characters and villains are equally funny and smart, creating a great game that blends story and gameplay very well.


Jumping and dodging over a barrage of missiles while firing a pixelating shotgun never gets old, and this game is full of moments like that. Nothing feels cooler in a video game when you're outnumbered by a bunch of enemies and their bullets or whizzing past you while making an effort to dodge and shoot. It doesn't feel scripted, it's something you as the player are doing, and there is an element of skill associated to it. That is the beauty of the 3d platformer, but namely Ratchet and Clank has always been the best at achieving this, hence its remaining existence. There are tons of weapons to choose from, and the cool thing is the more a weapon is used the more it levels up. This way your favorite weapon quickly becomes the "go to" when in tight situations. All the weapons are fun to use, and it's important to level up all weapons in the long term.

The need to upgrade all the weapons forces the player to use all of them, and gameplay style changes with every weapon. The sniper rifle will obviously be played differently than the rocket launcher. But with limited and max ammo for each weapon, you know that the final boss will require your entire arsenal to defeat. This is taught to the player by tough sub-bosses that require an effort that will require every single weapon to be used at least once. That is achieved through both great game design and level design. 


I touched on it a bit, but there are tons of things to upgrade which create a very addicting experience. You have to collect bolts to purchase new weapons, which increase in price as the game goes on as the new weapons are more powerful than the last. Ratchet himself will earn XP that will increase his health. Using weapons repeatedly will level up the weapon which give it passive upgrades. Then there is another rare currency that can be found that adds unique attributes to each weapon. For example increasing the max ammo or fire rate. However upgrading things in a certain cluster will unlock "bonus" augments that do things like lifesteal. Yet you won't know what these bonus augments do, creating a fun surprise when you unlock them. There are cards to collect that do things like "5% more bolts upon killing an enemy" that make the player go out of their way and explore this beautiful environment. Once a weapon has maxed out, you can unlock the "Omega" version which can only be bought when the game is replayed on hard mode. All these things together create an upgrade fest where your virtual character is getting better, but you as a player are also getting better. This is one of the first games in a while I found challenging and equally rewarding. I died a few times, which doesn't happen a lot in modern games. 

Pacing and Narrative

One of the things I'm not fond of when playing games is inspecting every crevice and corner just to say I've checked every spot. However for some reason I wanted to do this when playing this game. It created a great balance of intense action and times of peace where I was just exploring the gorgeous landscape foraging for bolts, cards, or "Raritanium" to upgrade my stuff. It helps that levels aren't overwhelmingly huge which makes it an achievable option to explore the entirety of an area without wasting tons of time doing so. It seemed like every time I did something off the beaten path I was rewarded for it, so I kept doing it. 

In terms of leveling up, it just so happened that a few moments before reaching the final boss, I had finally fully upgraded Ratchet and all my weapons to their max. The augments were not fully completed, since raritanium is rare and requires a second playthrough obtain it all. This means that the game was designed that way which takes incredible math, testing, and design to pull off. It was one of the things I was most impressed with since many games today are open world and don't really emphasize on these design elements in focused way.

The story is relatively cliche, a main villain with a bunch of powerful henchman you have to defeat, then finally reaching the final boss. However the execution of it was again, one of the best experiences I've had on a current console. I have not seen the movie, however the cut scenes that drove the story were animated and rendered so well the rivaled a feature film production. The voice acting was on point for each character, blending elements of humor and intelligence in something you'd expect from Pixar. It invested me as a player into a predictable story, but I was invested in impressing the Rangers and defeating Dr. Nefarious.


 The franchise builds off of the art style it's had for years. It's cartoony and focuses on roundness instead of hard edges like many "realistic" games do today. The fantastic lighting, dense population of objects in levels, textures, and animation create a colorful yet professional style. The way light bounces off the colorful environment is a huge upgrade over the flat colors we've seen in the past versions of Ratchet and Clank on previous consoles. The way shadows appear under foliage but also large objects creates a dynamic environment you have experienced in GTA V but combines the colorful and cartoony art style to accommodate it. I can't help but think this is the proper evolution of video games, the art is suppose to reflect fun over simulation.  

The character models and animations are not something to gawk over, but they are creative, consistent, and have no flaws which take away from gameplay. The character animations themselves enhance gameplay since they are so cleanly done and have a high degree of quality. Anything of relevance was done with a very high quality. I believe the spaceships used probably took more time to model than Ratchet, but spaceships may only be played with for an hour of game time while Ratchet is on screen for at least 15 of those hours. The level of attention paid to even the most insignificant things the player might focus on really drives home the level of excellence and quality this game provides the player. Many shortcuts could have been taken for a game that is a reboot and sold for 39.99, but that didn't happen. 


When choosing between XboxOne and PS4 I chose the PS4 for the Ratchet and Clank series and Uncharted since I did not have a PS3 (I now have both). I had very high expectations and it was delivered. A must buy for any PS4 owner and a game I will probably replay though which I never do. I need to upgrade my Omega weapons and replay on hard mode. The game was so much fun on a regular difficulty, but on hard mode with better weapons and more bolts, it's going to be even more exciting.

No comments:

Post a Comment