Review: Ratchet & Clank Collection (Sony PlayStation 3)

Ratchet & Clank Collection
Publisher: SCEA
Developer: Idol Minds
Genre: Action/Platformer
Release Date: 08/28/2012

I, for one, am thrilled about all of the HD collections coming out recently. The PS2 has a huge library full of quality games that many people may not experience if not for such re-releases. Ratchet & Clank is a perfect example. The first three games set the bar for excellence on the system, and still hold up today. There was no way I was going to miss this collection.

As this is a collection of older games (the first entry was released ten years ago), I’ll be focusing more on the value the collection adds, as well as giving a brief summary of what the games are all about. So, if you haven’t played them before, you’ll have a good idea of what to expect. For old fans wondering if they should pick this re-release up, skip to the bottom, as you’ll already know most of what I’m about to say.

Story

The very first Ratchet game featured the titular duo meeting for the first time under dire circumstances. A man by the name of Chairman Drek has started attacking planets in order to harvest resources for them. This is bad enough, but the harvesting is destroying said planets. Ratchet is eager to pass the buck, but is convinced by newcomer Clank to start a journey to save the galaxy. The first tale is great, introducing us to the lovable main characters, as well as Captain Qwark.

Going Commando, the second game, sees the duo on break after saving the galaxy. However, they’re soon contacted by the CEO of Megacorp. He wants them to travel to a whole new galaxy and retrieve a stolen experiment. Shadowy figures and goofball companions abound, as a deeper plot is revealed. The humor is increased for this entry, and the series really starts to form its identity. Even still, this is probably the least memorable game in the original trilogy.

Up Your Arsenal starts with Ratchet and Clank returning to their old galaxy to stop the new threat of Dr. Nefarious. The story is really on point here, with more humor, characters, and plot development than any other game in the series until A Crack in Time on the PS3. There’s a reason why Nefarious is one of the most popular characters in the franchise. He’s simply awesome.

UYA also includes a multiplayer component that offers siege, capture the flag, and deathmatch variants. The multiplayer has reformatted to work with PSN, and works great. The community isn’t there, and likely never will be. After all, this is a pretty old game. However, you can find some friends and get cracking online if you so desire.

The stories as a whole are very enjoyable. They follow a similar format to buddy cop movies. In other words, the plot is full of high tension moments that are peppered with comedic one-liners and hi-jinx. Best of all, the games are actually funny instead of corny. With a host of interesting characters to follow, you’ll likely have no problem getting into all three titles.

Graphics

The HD makeover looks fantastic. All three games look better than ever, with everything looking cleaner and crisper. I never noticed how pixelated the older version were until I started playing these. Honestly, it was a revelation. You can see a huge difference even without a HD TV.

The art style has always been reminiscent of a Pixar movie. The characters are goofy looking, but detailed an interesting. Ratchet looks like a some sort of cat person. Captain Qwark, the most human-looking member of the group is pretty much the stereotypical strong man hero. He’s got the broad shoulders, the chin dimple, and the downright silly costume.

The worlds are a sight to behold. They are full of color and detail. Each game gets progressively better looking than the one before it. The leap from the first game to Going Commando is downright astonishing. UYA ups the ante with a ton more characters onscreen and even more detail. This is the kind of game where you’ll end up stopping every once in a while so that you can enjoy the scenery.

Basically, the games were great looking to begin with. However, the HD makeover has done wonders here, allowing the full splendor of the art style to show through.

Audio

Musically, Ratchet & Clank is a success. All three games feature a futuristic sound to go with the space theme, and the tunes are perfect background music for the often chaotic gameplay. There are even a few standouts that manage to get stuck in your head after the fun is over, which is a plus. My favorite has to be the Courtney Gears battle music. It’s simply fantastic. A part of me was waiting for it during my playthroughs of all three games.

Voice acting is superb on all fronts. Jim Ward as Captain Qwark is utterly fantastic. If you haven’t heard him give any of his speeches, go look them up. He makes Qwark the popular character he is. Ratchet himself has a different voice actor in the first game, but the successor does a bang up job, surpassing the original. Beyond that, the cast stays true throughout. I can’t honestly think of a weak link here.

The clinking sound of dozens of bolts flying towards you is a classic. I’d put it up there with Mario’s jump and Sonic’s ring collection. The effect is unique to the R&C series. Anyone who hears it will know what to associate it with. All three games are filled with explosions and futuristic weapons that deliver a nonstop barrage of sounds. It adds to the chaotic feel.

Gameplay

The R&C formula has been untouched for years, and that’s for the best. It’s one part platforming, one part puzzle solving, and three parts frantic gun play. Each game has evolved this basic idea without abandoning it, creating a series of great games.

Platforming is done via simple jumping and the use of gadgets. The Swingshot, which appears in all three games, is the best example. It allows you to swing from grapple points, allowing access to new areas. Other examples are the glider, charge boots, and heli-pack. The traversal mechanics are great, and have a classic feel.

Puzzle solving involves the use of unique gadgets for each game. These puzzles aren’t very complex. Often, you can solve them in a few moments. You may simply need to put a bomb in the right place, or slingshot a robot up onto a platform. Clank has several solo sections where he needs to maneuver smaller robots around a course in order to open a door. These moments aren’t the strongest in the games, but they do offer some variety. At best, they give your brain something to do other than jump and shoot.

The weapons are the single best thing about the series. Insomniac, the developer, has a penchant for creating unique and fun weapons to use. The Morph-o-Ray turns enemies into chickens, the Rift Inducers create localized black holes, the Glove of Doom sends a bunch of suicidal robots to detonate in front of ground enemies, and so on and so forth. To compliment the more out there weapons, the basics are covered as well. You’ve got blasters, shotguns, sniper rifles, and rocket launchers. Usually, they come in some unique take on the idea, such as the Suck Cannon. The Suck Cannon works by vacuuming up smaller enemies and turning them into deadly projectiles. While it doesn’t get much use, the weapon is still a blast to play around with.

In the second and third games, the combat system gets a nice overall. For starters, Ratchet can strafe, making firing the weapons so much easier. Also, the guns gain experience as you use them. When they level, the become more powerful. The Lava Gun evolves into the Magma Gun, for example. This mechanic rewards you for sticking to a few favorites, but allows you to turn any weapon into a powerful ally.

The combat is absolutely hectic. There are a number of enemies coming for you at any time, and they don’t pull any punches. You rarely have time to sit still and line up your shot. Instead, you need to react quickly to incoming enemy fire while laying down your own. Choosing the right weapon for the job is a must, and a handy quick select feature helps you do that. There is a substantial variety of enemies and boss encounters to keep you on your toes. The whole system works great.

It was very interesting to play all three of these games back to back. There is a clear sense of evolution, without changing things up so much that the series loses its identity. Each game gets deeper and more varied. All three stand the test of time, and are clear evidence as to why this series has been around so long.

Replayability

If you were to rush through each of the three games, you could beat them in ten hours a piece. However, there is plenty of content to work through for players looking to dig deeper. The challenge mode option allows you to replay the game with all of your weapons intact. However, the levels get tougher, and more powerful versions of your weapons become available. It offers a great reason to come back for more.

In addition, there are skill points to unlock and special bolts to find. These allow you to purchase extras, as well as those suped-up guns I mentioned. Some of these are quite challenging to find, and worth the time spent looking for them.

UYA’s multiplayer mode is unlikely to take up too much of your time, but it offers some additional replay value for those who get into it. Like I said, the community isn’t likely to support this for long, so find some friends and get working on it.

This collection offers three great games with great replay value all on one disc. That is absolutely fantastic. For the mere price of thirty bucks, this disc can sit in your PS3 for a long time before you’ve done all there is to do.

Balance

One of the best things about the series is the challenge it offers. You can, and will die a lot in all three games. Simply having a bigger gun isn’t enough to survive. You need to manage ammo, dodge attacks, and prioritize enemies. Also, navigating some of the trickier platforming sections is quite tough when you’ve got several enemies gunning for you.

Checkpoints are fairly infrequent, but not so bad that you’ll lose more than ten minutes of gameplay. This means you can’t simply die and come back with full health ready to kick butt. You will get sent back, and be forced to try again. This is game where death matters. The only time this was a problem was when a mistimed jump caused me to fall down a pit and replay a tough combat scenario over again.

Overall, there’s a nice curve here that will tough enough to satisfy challenge seekers, but not too tough for more causal players. More modern games should follow this trend.

Originality

This is the only section of the review that won’t garner a high score. This is a collection after all. All of these games are more than five years old. With no new additions, there is no chance for the collection to score points here.

Besides, if you go into something called “collection” and expect to find something new and unique, then reading comprehension is probably something you should work on.

Addictiveness

There is always a new gadget or weapon to purchase. New worlds and secrets abound at every corner. Arena challenges, races, and space battles give you things to do when you need a break for a campaign. All three titles are feature rich, and engaging. It can be very hard to put the controller down for long. I personally played through all three of them in less than a week, minus a couple of days when I was out of town.

If you’re looking for a time sink that has great minute-to-minute gameplay, this is the title for you.

Appeal Factor

What’s not to like here? This collection contains three critically beloved games for a mere thirty dollars. Most of the similar collections have been more expensive, and featured a black sheep or two to sour the deal. All three of these games are awesome, and worth the asking price alone if you ask me.

Buying the collection on disc as opposed to online will save you fifteen buck as well. You get three games for the price of two this way. It kind of makes this a hard deal to pass up.

For newcomers, these are three quality games that you missed. Go rectify that right now. Find some time in your busy schedule to see what all the fuss is about.

For old fans, these are the same games you know and love with a nice visual upgrade. On top of that, there’s trophy support and online play for UYA. Since the PS3 can’t play PS2 games, this is the next best thing.

Miscellaneous

For the most part, the conversion is fantastic. However, UYA had a few issues with video not synching with audio. Also, they fixed a glitch in the first game that allowed players to earn infinite cash. This probably isn’t too negative a thing, but it sure was depressing.

My biggest annoyance is that you can get back to the selection menu once you’ve picked a game. This meant that when I was ready to switch to Going Commando, I had to exit and restart the disc. There’s no excuse of that really.

Despite this small handful of flaws, the package is well worth the money and time investment.

The Scores
Story: Great
Graphics: Classic
Audio: Incredible
Gameplay: Classic
Replayability: Classic
Balance: Incredible
Originality: Worthless
Addictiveness: Great
Appeal Factor: Great
Miscellaneous: Very Good
Final Score: Very Good Game!

Short Attention Span Summary


The Ratchet & Clank Collection is one of the best collections out there simply because it contains three very high quality games from one of the best franchises in Sony’s lineup. There are no duds here, and the graphical upgrades helps these PS2 classics shine in a new way. For a mere thirty dollars, this is one of the best deals you can get on the PS3 right now.

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