It was 2002 when Ratchet & Clank, a funny and challenging 3D platforming game, first made its appearance on the PlayStation 2. The hero of the game, Ratchet (a Lombax, which is a kind of furry squirrel / raccoon cross breed), teams up with a reject from the robot factory. Ratchet names him Clank after the sound he first makes when he pushes him against the ship's hull. Together they went on to make gaming history...
Exclusive to the Sony franchise, there have been nine other games in the series, including forays onto the PSP. This latest release revisits the first three games in the series: -
he first in the franchise, this Ratchet & Clank tells the story of how our two heroes met, and follows the battle with the Bharg - a bunch of nasties who have polluted their own planet so badly they now have to build a new one by stealing large chunks of neighbouring planets.
The game is cartoon-like, with monsters and characters that have been carefully crafted to generate a smile. So too were the weapons and equipment you pick up as you progress through levels and onto new planets, with each new discovering genuinely wowing players.
Ratchet has his oversized wrench as a basic weapon, and he can bash stuff with it as well as using it as a handy tool to open doors. Quickly, though, you pick up flamethrowers, bomb tossing gloves, and swing shot guns to name but a few. You end with so many that you have to swap between weapons using a handy equipment wheel sub menu.
You can purchase better weapons at shop nodes, and you also use the bolt currency you pick up from destroying crates and killing monsters to purchase quest items from various characters you meet up with along the way.
The game was a huge success largely because of its simple game play, easy to learn controls and amusing story line.
ollowing the success of the first game, in 2003 Insomniac - the game's developer - released a sequel. This time around the story is full of twists and turns but it never strays far from the same formula of a solid platform game and a wry sense of humour.
The game mechanics also largely remain unchanged but it does pack in some important enhancements, including a levelling system for your weapons where the more you use one type of weapon the stronger its effects became.
nother year, another game in the series. The big change this time around is the introduction of online play. Playable both in split-screen and online, you fight against up to seven other players to take the opponent's base. Spawn points can also be taken to give you additional weapons, power ups, and vehicles.
So what makes these three games the classics that they are? Well, there are - of course - the colourful visuals, the humour, and the very easy control scheme. But mainly we think it's just plain fun to play. The games themselves are not too difficult in terms of puzzles or challenges, but rather than that being a criticism, it has meant that the titles are accessible to a wide range of gamers.
These were three great games in their time, and each one has been long overdue for an upgrade and an outing on the PlayStation 3. So what have they done to them? Well, apart from the addition of a very simple menu screen to choose the version you want to play, the games are the same.
There is no doubt, however, that the graphics have been reworked to leverage the capabilities of the more modern console. If you have played the games before, you will immediately notice how much brighter and more detailed the environments are. This includes some good water effects and bigger and brighter explosions. This has all been accomplished without losing the charm of the original games. Each game also now supports 3D for those lucky enough to own a capable monitor or TV.
We have had a lot of fun replaying these classics and, although we were a bit concerned this may be a another cynical effort to eke out more revenue from an old title, we needn't have worried. What they have done is modernised the look and feel of the game but by keeping the games true to the originals they have given new gamers the opportunity to experience some great platform gaming.
We applaud the decision to release this as three games in one package. We are sure that, if they came out as individual releases, fans would still have purchased them, but as it stands this is has to be one of the best “value for money” packages this year. It's worth every bolt!