Game review: Ratchet & Clank – so much more than a riff on the original

A stunningly beautiful and thrilling adventure, incredible levels of detail and an impressive combat system make this release hard to put down

PUBLISHED : Friday, 22 April, 2016, 5:00pm
UPDATED : Friday, 22 April, 2016, 5:00pm

Ratchet & Clank

Insomniac Games

4.5 stars

The original Ratchet & Clank back in 2002 was a game-changer in the very literal sense – a child-friendly video game where a talking, upright cat and his robot pal head off on a planet-hopping adventure to shoot their way through an intergalactic war.

It was a Pixar film you could play, the perfect balance between charming storyline and enthralling gameplay, with enough heart and humour to keep gamers of all ages satisfied. Sure enough, it was only a matter of time before the duo got their own big-screen animated treatment, and the film is set for release at the end of this month.

And here’s the accompanying game, often a way of funnelling extra cash out of desperate parents. But while this Ratchet & Clank is really nothing more than a riff on the original, a play-by-play of what made the first game so damn enjoyable, and that’s no bad thing – but it’s also much, much more.

Gamers are a fickle bunch, and despite proclamations to the contrary, more often than not what we really want is to relive past glories through improved graphics, updated gameplay and plenty of fresh jokes. Ratchet & Clank delivers a thrilling adventure that’s incredibly hard to put down. The game looks stunningly beautiful, an animated retro-futuristic world come to virtual life, with incredible levels of detail in nearly every environment.

More impressive still, is its combat system. Running, jumping and shooting were always key dynamics, and here, they’ve all been amped up through a wacky, weaponised world where upgrades are a natural progression, rather than a forced necessity. The more you shoot, the better your guns get, and while it’s really nothing more than blowing a bunch of stuff up, we’ll be damned if we didn’t have an amazing time doing it all.

The gaming world is full of high-definition re-releases of old games – cheap, lazy attempts by developers to repackage favourites for nostalgic fans. It works only too well, and we’re guilty of constantly buying into that trap. But Ratchet & Clank is proof that things don’t have to go down like that: a full-on reimagining, rather than a remake, the game keeps in check all that made the original so great, while channelling the best of the contemporary gaming world. Here’s hoping the film does it justice.