Ratchet and Clank is much more than the standard "remaster" or HD remake that we've been inundated with over the last couple of years. It not only improves the graphics, but adjusts the maps players are used to and re-writes portions of the story to modernize it and give it a new spin while making jokes at its own expense. The game is not only beautiful, but a whole lot of fun to run through (even if it's not your first time).
+Beautiful remasters character models and landscapes.
+Fun story with plenty of nods at it being a remaster.
+Solid mechanics that have been updated for the modern area.
-As with all remasters: I would have preferred a full new title.
Over the last couple of years I may have become an Xbox "fanboy" due to Microsoft being my perferred platform over the last two generations of console. Coming up as a kid though, my roots are firmly planted in the Sony Playstation lineage. Well, if you don't go too far back anyways where you'll find that I bleed blue and have been and always will be a Sega fanboy.
While I'd like to say "history aside" it's clear that this review is all about history. The history of one of the greatest action/platformer titles that every existed. Sure, there are plenty of heroes that are worth noting in such a wide and storied genre, but there's something special and not worthy about the blend of unique characters and tongue-in-cheek humor that Insominac produces with its flagship Ratchet and Clank series.
That being said, I will admit I haven't played much Ratchet and Clank since the intial title, and with that in mind it's been a good 14 years since its initial release... so, being fair to myself, my memory of the adventure was a little 'foggy' at best. With or without me though the franchise has steadily marched on through 8 full release titles and a number of spin-offs and mobile incarnations. To say that these are beloved characters and that it is a franchise with a rich history feels something of an understatement.
The idea of a "remake" in contrast to a "remaster" or "uprez" isn't something we've really experienced too much with Video Games. There's been a few notable "reboots" of course (namely Laura Croft/Tomb Raider) but the idea of redoing the original story, while making enough changes to keep it fresh, is something we don't get to see a whole lot of in story telling. Perhaps that's because its easier to just slap a fresh coat of paint on a old video game and re-sell that for a quick profit/reminder that the franchise still exists after stagnating in obscurity.
Coming in to the game, this was easily the biggest sticking point. What exactly does a "remake" of a classic game look like? How much has changed, how much stayed the same?
In the case of Ratchet and Clank I would have to say: the perfect amount.
Going back through the game I started to remember some points where secret objectives (in the original game) were and explored into them. They might not have been the original Golden Bolts, but there could be something there... Or maybe the location wasn't there at all anymore and I had to explore onwards to find some new hidden alcove where treasures lurked.
Not only did the maps/levels change with enough varition to encourage exploration, but the story has been modified too. While I won't dive too deep into the changes of the story (because I feel they are worth running through for fans new and old regardless) I will say that my favorite moments are the self-awareness of the franchise reboot. In example, there are moments where characters will elude to the fact that say, a movie is coming out at the same time as the game (both based on the same story) and how confusing that can be for someone out of the loop. Another good one was a character who only shows up once (and briefly) promptly exiting from the story with the line "Whelp, see you in the next reboot."
Speaking of the movie, I should note that I haven't bothered to watch it yet.
Though the two are companion pieces, and the game definitely does refer to the film, I can't say how tightly the movie ties back into the video game. However, I will say that based on the review scores thus far, I'm not that keen to find out. -- Ratchet and Clank: The Movie currently ranks a paultry 19% on RottenTomatoes.com
It's unfortunate to hear about though, considering the story is a fun one. Perhaps it isn't strong enough to stand on its own, perhaps the video game is the perfect medium for telling the tale of a Lombax dreaming of joining the Galactic Rangers and stumbling across a defunct Warbot who becomes his personal all-purpose backpack/swiss-knife/best friend. Because in terms of the game, it all works rather beautifully.
As a general thought I believe the platforming/adventure genre is, for the most part, dying out. There aren't heroes like there once were. Personally I'm hoping that the remake of the classic Ratchet and Clank game will inspire a new generation of programmers to create new iconic heroes and bring back this much beloved genre of video games. By today's standards it might seem simplistic and straight-forwards but I cannot get enough of my "linear" platforming adventure, especially when the humor is so self-aware and on-point.
Keep doing what you're doing Insomiac, it is God's work.
Release Date: April 12th, 2016