Playing the Ratchet & Clank Trilogy is like going back in time. Except, this trip down nostalgia lane is souped in gorgeous HD. This remake comprises of the first three games in the series released on the PS2. These futuristic platformers had you as Ratchet - the universe’s only furry, cat-like creature known as a Lombax in existence - running and gunning from one planet to the next to save the galaxy, followed by Clank, a diminutive robot that holds a devastating arsenal.
Now throw in some witty writing reminiscent of Futurama and some art direction that would put Pixar’s finest to shame, and you have a top-notch title in terms of presentation. This is particularly useful, given that the game’s premise is based on intergalactic experiences. The trilogy follows the aforementioned Lombax and robot, who are reluctantly thrust into saving the galaxy in the first game. They start off the second game as has-beens yearning to be in the limelight, while the third has them back to protecting the universe. The stories told aren't so complex as to give your brain an aneurysm (hey Metal Gear Solid 4, this means you).
As we mentioned, the crux of the games has you traveling to different worlds. Each of these worlds has a unique look and feel to them, as well as secrets to uncover. As you traverse across worlds, you end up discovering and acquiring a wealth of insane weaponry as well as tons of nuts and bolts - in-game currency that allows you to upgrade the dynamic duo’s weapons, suits and whatnot.
Access to an entertaining arsenal
At its core, the series’ gameplay is broken down into three key components - platforming, combat and solving puzzles. These elements remain consistent and almost in equal proportion in all three games, ensuring you never get bored of doing one thing over another. The controls are slick - jumping from one ledge over to the next is a breeze, and you rarely feel like you have to put in more effort than you already have.
Combat is glorious, due in part to having access to weapons that are truly entertaining. Insomniac, the studio behind this series and PS3 FPS exclusive posterchild Resistance, has a penchant for coming up with some truly creative weaponry. With guns that turn gigantic enemies into sheep and shiny disco balls that hypnotize everyone on the battlefield to break into a dance, you can see why. Though some weapons feel useless and feel like they were included just for the sake of having lots of weapons, the sheer number more than makes up for it.
Plenty of activities and puzzles solving
Solving puzzles in the series was a light-hearted affair and it has remained the same. You don’t have to think too much to get ahead and you usually have what you need to solve them. Be it freezing waterfalls or hacking security systems, there’s enough variety in terms of puzzles to keep you interested.
Speaking of variety, each of these games is filled with other activities to take part in, aside from the three pillars of platforming, combat and puzzle solving. Along the way, you’ll partake in stealth missions, coliseum-styled combat, and play 2D platformers in homage to the series’ number one coward and blowhard, Captain Qwark.
Some cut scenes appear letter boxed
As you play through each adventure of this unlikely pairing, you’ll notice a quiet evolution. While creating this terrific trilogy, Insomniac seems to have picked up a few tricks along the way. They have incorporated some subtle changes like being able to strafe properly in the second game (versus the hoverpack solution of the first) and regaling in full-scale battles in the third game. The most telling of the changes is the difference in control schemes between the first and final game.The clunky controls evolve through the trilogy into something truly sublime and elegant. It’s similar to that of an ugly duckling turning into a swan or Kareena Kapoor getting her curves back from being size zero, whichever analogy floats your boat. Even the titles seem to have undergone an evolution, starting from the simple Ratchet & Clank, followed by Ratchet & Clank 2: Going Commando, and rounded off with the even more obvious innuendo-laden title, Ratchet & Clank 3: Up Your Arsenal.
Unlike most HD remakes, this doesn’t feel like a cheap port meant to cash in on the strength of the franchise. The art and graphics hold up quite nicely at 1080p. What's more, it runs at 60fps, as it should, and looks great in motion. There's even an option to play it in 3D, but you'll end up losing half the frames and be downgraded to 720p. It might not look as good as games made from the ground up for the PS3, but it gives them a solid run for their money.
That said, this isn't as perfect an HD upgrade as we'd have liked. Some cut-scenes are rendered in the oh-so-cuttingedge- if-this-were-the-80s 4:3 aspect ratio, meaning some non-gameplay video sequences will end up letter-boxing your lovely HDTV.
Fantastic art direction, crammed with content, sweet gameplay
Whether you're an old fan of the series, or in the market for something that isn't the usual monochrome shooter, you'd do yourself a world of good by checking out Ratchet & Clank Trilogy. Platformers are rare, great ones (that don't have the word “Mario” in the title) are even more so.
Updated 19 May, 2013, 5:16 pm IST
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