If there is one thing that the recent bout of HD trilogies are great for, it’s being able to chart the progression of an individual series over the duration of a console generation. In the case of The Ratchet & Clank Trilogy, we get to see those initial links to the primary coloured platform boom of the mid to late nineties and the series’ humble beginnings as a traditional platformer through to its expansion as a series that, while always keeping true to its platforming roots, grew to incorporate design choices and gameplay from a raft of other genres.
Like so many other collections of this type, it truly is amazing just how far Ratchet & Clank progressed over the course of their first three adventures. While all extremely playable, even by today’s standards, there is no doubting that each game shows a significant improvement over its predecessor.
With so many of the 3D platformers of yesteryear confined to obscurity by the industry’s shift towards first-person-shooters and more action-oriented gameplay, it’s testament to the quality of Insomniac’s much loved platformerthat it has managed to live on successfully into the current generation, and withyet another release on the way, now is as good a time as any to, either reacquaint or introduce yourself with this rather fantastic franchise.
And I’m not just saying that in a purely nostalgic sense either. I only had the most fleeting of relationships with Ratchet & Clank back on the PS2, and approaching them now, almost as a total newcomer, there is a hell of a lot to recommend. Yes, playing the three games back to back does get a tad repetitious, but each game certainly brings a lot to the table in its own right and, in a market in which the humble platformer so rarely gets a look in, returning to these games with a new coat of paint proves a genuinely refreshing experience.
While the package itself is yet another case of bare bones delivery (no special features, poor menus etc), in regards to the actual presentation of the games themselves, Sony’s Idol Minds has done a more than admirable job of bringing these PS2 classics up to scratch. Running at a smooth 60 fps, only dropping if you decide to take on the now customary 3D option (which is actual pretty good by the way), the new HD visuals retain all the colour and creativity of the originals while imbuing them with enough additional quality so that they do not look out of place next to more modern releases. In fact, putting any of these games side by side with one of the full Ratchet & Clank PS3 releases, you get an idea of just how good these games really look. Like so many of these ports, the great thing about them is that they look like you remember them rather than how they really did. Of course, push the upgrade too far, and it loses its initial charm – it’s a balancing act that Idol Minds have managed with aplomb.
Although each game in the series introduces further nods to other genres, with vehicles and flying sections thrown in along the way, none of the Ratchet & Clank games lose sight of their platforming roots and remain a perfect balance between, jumping, smashing (those crates aren’t going to destroy themselves) and, of course, shooting. Although relatively basic in terms of mechanics, the wide range of evolving weaponry available, especially in part 3, really makes shooting an integral part of the experience. From the Quack-O-Ray to the Suck Cannon and of course, the fantastically named, RYNO (Rip You a New One), Insomniac really swing for the fences when it comes to weaponry design, and unlike Resistance, Insomniac’s other big franchise, their imagination is not limited by any vague link to reality. This is Pixar meets Looney Tunes and a fantastic example of imagination allowed to run free.
Rounding off the collection is Ratchet & Clank 3’s multiplayer mode which has now been upgraded for PSN, and like the rest of the package, also includes full trophy support. The multiplayer aspect of the package will unlikely prove the driving force behind anyone’s purchase of this well-crafted trilogy, but its inclusion is certainly a welcome one and will prove an interesting addition for the many gamers who were unable to experience it back on the PS2……really, who actually had their PS2 hooked up to the internet?
Anyway, despite the cut-scenes lacking the visual upgrade afforded to the rest of the experience , The Ratchet & Clank Trilogy stands as one of, if not the most impressive looking HD collection to date. The games may be a tad samey, but the quality in each and every title still shines bright and with this package released to coincide with the duo’s 10thanniversary, you deserve it to yourself, and to this fantastically likeable franchise, to revisit this fine collection of PS2 classics. There’s a very simple reason why Ratchet & Clank have survived when so many of their platforming contemporaries have now been lost to the annals of time, and that’s quality – something this series has in abundance.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 3 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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