(Available on PlayStation 2 and on PlayStation 3 via the Ratchet and Clank HD Trilogy.)
Ratchet and Clank’s first adventure is showing its age but it is still a lot of fun
It’s hard to think that the first Ratchet and Clank game turns 16 years old this year. It’s a series that I and many others have grown up with. Since Ratchet and Clank blasted their way on the PS2 back in 2002, the series has grown to a gigantic scale, having several sequels and a movie. Ratchet and Clank have also become an iconic part of the PlayStation brand and both of the main characters are kind of like mascots for PlayStation.
However, let’s go all the way back to the first Ratchet and Clank game. 16 years and many sequels later, does Ratchet and Clank’s first adventure still hold up well or does it belong in the retirement home?
The gameplay for Ratchet and Clank is a mixture of action 3D platforming and it works and still works fairly well considering its age, but going back to this after playing the latest Ratchet and Clank games does make me miss the smoothness that the series now has.
Platforming in the Ratchet and clank games has always been decent and 16 years later, the first game still holds up well in that aspect. Running, jumping, swimming and hovering using the Heli-Pack all feel fluid. The hoverboard racing feels a bit clunky but it has always been like that, it’s still fun though. Shooting is fairly simple, wherever Ratchet facing that is where he will either shoot or attack with his wrench. Flying enemies can be troublesome but thanks to a zoom mechanic that allows you to shoot more accurately, they don’t get annoying.
You don’t just play as Ratchet in this game, you also play as Clank in certain sections of the game. Clank plays a lot differently to his buddy Ratchet: you can’t go gung-ho with him as he doesn’t have much health and can only melee attack. Clank has to rely on his little robot buddies that he comes across to attack as they do much more damage. Clank is a small fellow but there are times in the game where he can become Giant Clank. Giant Clank is every bit of fun to play as you’d expect, he effectively becomes like Godzilla. He’s a bit cumbersome to use which is expected from such a big character but it’s nothing that will ruin the fun you’ll have.
Ratchet and Clank also features space battles which are fun and are a nice break away from the usual gameplay. The controls for Ratchet and Clank’s space ship have aged and are nowhere near as smooth as they are in the games that come after it. Space battles in R&C 1 are fun regardless of the controls but after playing the more recent Ratchet and Clank games, I do miss the fluidity and smoothness of the ship controls that the series now has.
The biggest gripe I have with the gameplay for the first game is that there is now strafe. Strafing in the Ratchet and Clank games is very helpful, especially when the action gets hectic. The lack of a strafing mechanic does make the game a little bit more difficult but it is still bearable. It’s jarring to go from Ratchet and Clank: A Crack in Time or Ratchet and Clank (PS4) and then come back to this. I will say this though, playing through the first game, made me realise how much I actually used strafing.
When Ratchet and Clank was first released back 2002, it looked amazing and was arguably one of the best looking games on the PlayStation 2 at that point. 16 years later and as you’d expect it’s showing its age. Some of the textures look a bit muddy now but that is because I, like many others are used to playing games from the current generation where characters and scenery can be acutely detailed. Ratchet and Clank first adventure does look dated but it doesn’t take away from the fun. The only people who may not like the graphics here are “graphics freaks”. For those who are put off by the graphics, you could get the HD Trilogy which spruces things up quite nicely.
One thing I noticed whilst playing through Ratchet and Clank again for this review, was that there was no major pop-in. Even though the worlds that you go to have a fairly linear path for you to follow, they are still rather big. For there to be no major pop-in that is noticeable is an achievement. Well done Insomniac Games.
Each world has their own unique piece of music which helps in building each world’s identity and individuality. Planet Novalis has a funky beat, Planet Kerwan is more techno but it fits with the futuristic aspect of the world and Planet Rilgar has a dance and drum and bass feel to it which fits with the identity of the world. I love that Insomniac gave each world different music, it makes them feel more unique and become more than just a setting for the player to wreak havoc in.
Sound effects in Ratchet and Clank are top-notch. Each gun sounds differently which is needed but none of them are of low quality. Each gun still sounds pretty well and some of them still have that satisfying oomph like the Devastator.
Ratchet and Clank’s story follows the Lombax, Ratchet who buddies up with the small and smart robot Clank to find galactic space hero Captain Qwark so he can defeat the evil Chairman Drek who wants to build a planet using pieces of other planets.
The story of Ratchet and Clank is a good one with some genuinely funny parts in it. One of the humourous parts is at the beginning of the game where you meet a plumber on the Planet Novalis. Give him what asks for and you’ll see him slide down a sewage pipe. Yes it’s weird but this kind of tongue-in-cheek humour happens throughout the game and never gets old.
The dynamic between Ratchet and Clank is similar to that of a buddy cop movie. Ratchet and Clank are pretty much the complete opposite of each other but it’s from their differences and sense of justice that they form a friendship. Ratchet is the kind of guy that acts first, thinks later. Clank on the other hand, is smart and thinks about things before he acts. The bond these two characters have is strong and can be quite comical.
Ratchet and Clank’s campaign is a lot of fun, the desire to replay it again is definitely there. Once you have completed the game, it will give you the option to save and leave the game just before the final boss, so you can go back and mop up any optional stuff or, you can make a new save file and start “New Game Plus”.
New Game Plus allows you to carry over your bolts, gold bolts and weapons over to the new save. Enemies aren’t tougher and they don’t seem to deal more damage than on the first playthrough which is weird. If you have all the weapons from the merchant from your previous playthrough, you’d expect the enemies to be a bit tougher but they’re not.
There are collectibles to find in Ratchet and Clank and they are gold bolts. They are hidden away and are bigger than the bolts that you use for currency. There is a weapon that is possible to get on your first playthrough called the R.Y.N.O. but it will require a lot of grinding for bolts. The R.Y.N.O. stands for “Rip Ya A New One” which is absolutely brilliant. There’s also the hoverboard racing which you can keep doing to beat your high score and it is a good way of earning a large amount of bolts quickly.
Whilst the campaign is very replayable and there are things to collect, Ratchet and Clank could have benefitted from some more mini-games like an arena, where players can show off their combat skills.
Ratchet and Clank’s first galactic adventure may be 16 years old and starting to show its age but it is as fun now as it was 16 years ago. Sure, I miss the smoothness of the controls of the more recent Ratchet and Clank games but again, I still had fun. The story is quite good and there is plenty of humour in the game, all of which still holds up well.
Ratchet and Clank is still very much playable and will always be enjoyable.
If you would like to talk about Ratchet and Clank or video games in general, why not talk to me on Twitter – @ThatGreenDude95