"Insert Crude Double Entendre"
It's hard to believe that Ratchet & Clank only debuted ten years ago. This is because the series immediately displayed all the traits necessary to be a video gaming icon. From the very first game, Ratchet & Clank had memorable characters, intense gameplay, ingenious design, and a sense of humor all its own. The gaming industry took note as well, and Sony has published Ratchet & Clank games ever since. Now that the series has reached its 10th anniversary, gamers can celebrate with Ratchet & Clank Collection, featuring the original games —the games that remain the most compelling in the franchise.
Ratchet & Clank Collection features remastered versions of the PlayStation 2 originals, including the eponymous first game, Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando, and Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal. These games cast the player as Ratchet, a fuzzy alien with a short temper, and Clank, an insufferable know-it-all of a robot. The duo stumble into various adventures forcing them to save the galaxy, and they do so with only the most elaborate and ridiculous weapons. Ratchet & Clank is a comedy first and foremost, a ridiculous intergalactic farce in the vein of the late Douglas Adams. It's successfully hilarious as well, with a memorable cast of characters and some exceptionally timed bantering.
Although Ratchet & Clank is overtly comedic, the gameplay is serious —seriously fun. The games play like what a fully 3D Mega Man would have ideally been, mixing platforming with shooting in an over-the-top cartoony atmosphere. The levels involve using large, crazy guns to fight robot and / or alien enemies, in order to get "bolts" that can be used for the purchase of even larger, crazier guns. The weapons in Ratchet & Clank are so outlandish they would make a 1990s comic superhero feel inadequate, and they feature effects like summoning hordes of walking robot jaws or turning enemies into sheep. The shooting is complimented with platform-jumping across massive planets, levels so vast and beautiful that they surpass some current-generation console game designs.
There are parts in which the games in Ratchet & Clank Collection unfortunately show their age. The camera and aiming controls are clunky by modern settings, and the menus can be awkward. The requisite mini-games can also be frustrating, with genre shifts like controlling miniature Gadget-bots or first-person shooting from a turret coming across as annoying and arbitrary rather than complimentary to the core gameplay. The first game has aged the worst of the three, but it's still a great game despite its warts. Going Commando and Up Your Arsenal are even better, as Insomniac Games worked out the kinks with each sequel and created bigger and better scenarios. The level of care and ambition in these games is rare in any era, and it results in a timeless quality.
The Ratchet & Clank games were among the greatest games on the PS2, and the Ratchet & Clank Collection gives gamers the perfect opportunity to learn why those titles are so cherished. The games are fun and funny, while maintaining a strong narrative and a hearty adventure. If you like platformers, shooters, action-adventure games, or any combination thereof, you can't go wrong with the classic Ratchet & Clank.
GameDynamo's Score for Ratchet & Clank Collection (PS3)
Neil Kapit is a freelance writer, cartoonist, and "La Li Lu Le Lo" agent based in Los Angeles. His work can be seen on www.therubynation.com.
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