What I played… Ratchet and Clank

The Ratchet and Clank franchise first popped into our lives in 2002, courtesy of Insomniac Games. The eponymous heroes of these science-fiction action adventures are a ‘Lombax’, resembling a long eared fox, and a defective war robot who has apparently taken voice acting lessons from the Star Wars droids.

I’ve never actually played any of the earlier games; instead I leapt straight into this shiny new reboot on the PS4. From what I can tell, this is a reproduction of the very first Ratchet and Clank game, but with minor upgrades and added nostalgia value. The game was also released in conjunction with an animated feature film, but I haven’t seen that either and, according to the ratings, I didn’t miss much.

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The story is told narrated by Captain Quark, disgraced ex-head of an intergalactic task force called the Galactic Rangers. Through him we meet Ratchet, a mechanic who dreams of joining the Galactic Rangers. Ratchet blasts through the tests required to join up to the team but is shunned by Captain Quark due to his history of minor criminal offenses. Meanwhile the two villains of the story, Chairman Drek and Dr Nefarious are building a robot army. As we watch the production line of robots, something goes wrong and a small unthreatening robot is created. He manages to escape despite all attempts to contain him and steals a ship, which lands on Ratchet’s planet. Ratchet names this little bot “Clank” and Clank convinces Ratchet to travel to the Galactic Rangers’ planet to warn them of the impending attacks.

Our heroes end up zooming all around the galaxy in an attempt to thwart Chairman Drek’s evil plans. Ratchet acquires ever more unusual weapons (my personal favourite is the Sheepinator, which turns bad guys into fluffy harmless ovines) and Clank acquires cool upgrades to help Ratchet in his quest. For the most part you move Ratchet directly, however there are a few small sequences where you control Clank to solve puzzles. Clank does not use any weapons apart from his little metal fists so must try and stay out of danger as much as possible.

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This is a good looking game. It’s shiny and fresh and fun. It’s also occasionally so frustrating that you will rage quit. There are a lot of nods to the original game by way of throwaway references and mentions of déjà vu when doing something or meeting someone new. The problem for me is that no other Ratchet and Clank games are playable on currently available consoles. I’d kind of like to play more and, short of further reboots of later games in the series, I don’t think I’ll ever get to.

If you liked the original game, I think this reboot will allow you to relive it without having to deal with the clunkiness of the original format. I’ve heard that Ratchet in this version is a little bland and a bit of a Mary-Sue, however it’s still an enjoyable ride. If you’re new to the franchise and like slightly cartoonish sci-fi action adventures then give this a try.

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