Joining exceptional HD remasters such as the Sly Collection, the Ratchet & Clank Collection retains what made the original games so much fun and in the process injects more visual flare thanks to high-res textures. The first three R&C games included in the collection exactly mirror their originals in the gameplay department so there may not be any surprising elements such as sudden integration of the PS Move or brand new content, but the games are still pure enjoyment from top to bottom.
+ They may be old, but the gameplay in each of the three R&C games holds up incredibly well.
+ Insomniac’s style of writing is nearly flawless as there are loads of brilliant one-liners or pure gags in the games.
+ Idol Minds has done an excellent job at porting the R&C games in addition to giving them a visual boost.
- Not having any supplementary content (bts videos, audio commentary, etc.) is kind of disappointing since this year marks the 10 year anniversary of the series.
Years ago if you told someone that the video game industry would release old games done up in a higher resolution you probably would’ve been laughed at. After all we didn’t see such a thing occur going from the PS1/N64 to the PS2/Xbox/GameCube outside of special things such as Capcom remaking the first Resident Evil game or Konami putting a twist on Metal Gear Solid via the Twin Snakes. These days it’s common practice to see a popular game from a previous generation surface again with HD visuals and perhaps a few other things to make gamers willing to double dip. It may not be an ideal business practice in a generation filled with retreads, but receiving a HD remaster does give us a gem once in a while such as the Ratchet & Clank Collection.
One of the few true mascots of the PlayStation brand, the Ratchet & Clank series has been going strong for ten years, a factoid that honestly makes me feel old. Perhaps I shouldn’t feel too bad about being an ever old gaming geezer, but it just seems odd to me as it seemed like yesterday when I was playing the first Ratchet & Clank game or saw a clip play on G4’s Cinematech, back in the day before you could find literally any type of gaming video on YouTube. Anyway I digress in my nostalgia filled recollections as I should instead be talking about how much fun the Ratchet & Clank Collection is.
For those such as I who have been gaming for a long time, especially on PlayStation platforms, you probably know what to expect from the Ratchet & Clank Collection. Comprising of the first three games, the R&C Collection provides the games that served as the launchpad for gamers knowing what a Lombax is and for Insomniac getting even more recognition amongst gamers and in the industry as a whole. When going back to a game there’s always the chance for things to possibly be stale, no matter how much we may love something as not every game can age gracefully. Thankfully the Ratchet & Clank games have stood up well to the test of time, not only because they’re written well but because they’re fun to play.
Slightly serving as an example of what the industry once used to be like, the Ratchet & Clank Collection provides a marvelous amount of platforming with equal parts blowing stuff up. Those who may know the R&C series more based on its PS3 offerings may not realize that back in the day the series used to be heavy on the platforming as Ratchet needed to use things such as his Swingshot to cross wide chasms leading to unimaginable doom along with using Clank as a mini-copter vehicle.
The first R&C game may be ten years old, but it holds up incredibly well today since its mixture of accessible platforming and shoot-em-up action is something we don’t see too often these days. Playing the other two entries in the R&C Collection (R&C2: Going Commando and R&C3: Up Your Arsenal) it’s obvious to see in what ways the series evolved as action and upgrades are pushed more to the forefront. But even then the series never lost a step and always managed to provide gameplay elements that were easy to jump into such as a 3rd person flight segment along with platforming that didn’t feel repetitive or dull. Serving as a companion to all the jumping that Ratchet must do, the shoot-em-up sections are still satisfying since Insomniac crafted a wonderful collection of weapons. Things such as the blaster pistol may be common stuff in its sci-fi inspired pew-pewing, but then there are things such as the Suck Cannon and Sheepinator (enemies turn into sheep) which are complete gems, not just because they’re cool things to use but because they provide near limitless humor.
Along with the gameplay, the R&C Collection holds up well since the games are beautifully written. Again, those who have already played the series may know every one-liner of Clank, but playing the games again I never once cringed when a particular joke was said due to it being terribly dated or outright bad. The tales told in the first three R&C games may not be complex narratives that use their cartoony exterior to tell a deep message as Oddworld Inhabitants did with the Oddworld series, but the material as a whole doesn’t feel like it’s playing to the lowest common denominator so there thankfully isn’t an abundance of fart jokes or other low-brow things one would find in a bad Jack Black movie.
The Ratchet & Clank series has always been a sci-fi buddy adventure sort of thing and I think that’s one of the main reasons why the games hold up well today. With Ratchet’s almost carefree attitude that’s boosted by his near ADD personality and Clank’s precise demeanor that’s hiding a mischievous edge, the personalities in the R&C games have always been enjoyable and replaying the games only made me realize how good they actually are. With material that’s reminiscent of what Pixar brings to the table, the R&C games have been the host to some exceptional comedic writing within the games industry and in a way I’m pleased that more gamers out there will be able to witness such a thing via the R&C Collection.
There aren’t too many things that can be a game changer when it comes to a game receiving the HD master treatment, but the one major thing in the R&C Collection are the visuals. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist or one of those weird Rubik’s Cube solving kids to figure out that when you port a ten year old PS2 game to the PS3 it’s bound to look marginally better. However, as we’ve witnessed in the past there’s definitely room for error in HD remasters as textures can look off, blurry, or entire effects are missing which then spark ten page debates on places like NeoGAF.
The one thing is that the Ratchet & Clank games were always some of the best PS2 games so there was an excellent base for Idol Minds (the dev team responsible for the port) to upgrade the visuals in a pleasing way that’ll appease PS3 gamers. Overall the product that’s represented in the R&C Collection looks rather marvelous as the futuristic cities and strange aliens depicted in the games retain their core characteristics but have an added boost of detail thanks to high-res textures. It may still be odd going from one of the PS3 R&C games to the R&C Collection as things such as Ratchet’s subtle fur shader and Clank’s ever shiny robot exterior are obviously missing. But even then the R&C Collection is one of the better looking HD remasters we’ve received this generation as it has a consistent graphical and technical performance. In the end the only dour graphical moment are a few textures that look off, but considering most of those can be found on secondary enemies or on the ships Ratchet pilots it’s not that much of an issue.
It may still seem odd to buy a game you already own in which the only caveat may be that the visuals are slightly improved, but in the case of the Ratchet & Clank Collection I think such an investment is worth it. We may soon have our fifth R&C game for the PS3 (R&C: Full Frontal Assault), but going back to the roots of the series in its PS2 era proved to be a fun thing to do as I was still impressed with the worlds Insomniac Games created and the ever engaging gameplay that was provided. There isn’t anything new in the R&C Collection (having a few docu videos would’ve been nice) nor is the online based Ratchet Deadlocked included (that’ll be a separate release), but for what it is the Ratchet & Clank Collection is a brilliant product that is a must have for those who can’t get enough of the Lombax & robot duo.