Ratchet and Clank
System: Sony Playstation 2
Release: November, 2002
Insomnia made their name by developing the Spyro the Dragon series for PS1, which went on to have two sequels and sell millions of copies worldwide. But like Naughty Dog did with Crash Bandicoot, Insomnia has given away its prized franchise and started from scratch on Playstation2.
Ratchet and Clank is Sony’s marquee action title for the 2002 holiday season, and there is a massive ad campaign behind it. Instead of a traditional action platformer, Insomnia decided to give the cute characters substantial firepower, and the simple butt bounce has been replaced by a flame thrower.
At first glance, one might think Ratchet and Clank is yet another duo-based action platformer in the Banjo Kazooie mold. Ratchet has all the requisite moves, including the double jump, the basic close ranged attack (using his wrench), However, after only a few minutes of actual gameplay, it is clear that there is as much firepower as there is cuteness in Ratchet and Clank.
Borrowing from another N64 Rare title Jet Force Gemini, gameplay in Ratchet and Clank is driven by increasingly destructive weapons. At first, Ratchet only has his gigantic wrench with which to attack enemies, unscrew giant screws and toss short distances. But very quickly, Ratchet will get weapons upgrades, collecting a dizzying array of rocket launchers,
Ratchet is the main controllable player in the game, and Clank resides in his backpack. Some of the weapons upgrades will be done to Clank, such as a rocket or helicopter attachment that allow Clank to assist Ratchet in the attacks. In addition, there are levels in which players actually control Clank, who feels far different than Ratchet. The Clank levels are more original than Ratchet, as they give Clank some cool abilities, like controlling other robots who act as lemmings who obey unconditionally.
The game is pretty straightforward for the first few levels, with the game easing the player into using the players and the various weapons. The later levels add more difficulty in a Mega Man-esque nature, as there is a strategy as to which weapon to use in each situation.
Level structure in Ratchet and Clank is a mix of linear and wide open. Early levels follow a pretty straightforward path, but later in the game there is more variety. In addition, each level has multiple tasks that need to be completed. Some cannot be completed at first and the player has to come back to them at a later time, with increased ability or bolts to buy a cooler weapon.
Ratchet and Clank is never overly hard, but there is a lot of game to play. There are tons of levels, and each level has a bunch of tasks to be done. The game’s difficulty never ramps up too high, and some hardcore players might complain that the game isn’t hard enough, but most players will have no problem with the lack of intense challenge.
The visuals in Ratchet and Clank are among the best seen in any action platformer on Playstation2, or any other system for that matter. Insomniac shares graphic libraries with the masters as Naughty Dog, so fans of the graphic style in PS1 Crash and PS2 Jak and Daxter will feel right at home with Ratchet and Clank.
It looks and feels a lot like J&D, but a generation later. The environments are very large and extremely detailed. Each land has a distinct feel, with vegetation, scenary, cityscapes and backgrounds that are highly detailed. The character models are well put together, although Ratchet himself has a very strange look, most notably with creepy large hands.
The cutscenes are done with the in game graphics engine, but it are still pretty. Overall the graphics in Ratchet and Clank are among the cream of the crop on Sony’s powerhouse.
The voice acting in Ratchet and Clank is top notch. Ratchet is a surfer style cool guy, and Clank is a snooty British guy, and their interactions are often funny. In addition, the other characters and movies are entertaining and move the story along nicely.
The sound effects are also well done, with each weapon having a distinct feel from an aural standpoint.
There is a nice feeling of taking gigantic weapons and blowing away enemies robots into small bits. Ratchet and Clank controls like a dream
While collecting has gotten to be a clichÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â© in many action platformers, it serves a purpose in Ratchet and Clank. Whether it’s collecting bolts which act as a currency, ammo or the weapons themselves, the collectibles actually impact gameplay directly, rather than just being collected for the sake of collecting.
Ratchet and Clank is a vibrant and beautiful game that really shows the power of Playstation2. While it doesn’t break much new ground, it culls together several successful games and gameplay elements into a game that will surprise many gamers expecting another treasure hunt action platformer.
Fun Factor: 8.5