Beyond my almost smug sense of satisfaction at coming up with this title, one of my other vices is the Ratchet & Clank games. Specifically the ones for the PS2, as my diversion to the Xbox 360 provided me with no means to play the others on the PS3. But, by the sounds of it, for some of them I was doing myself a favour. With the upcoming Ratchet & Clank film, there is promise of a game bound for the PS4 on the horizon. However, as I have been traveling and unable to pick up the controls of my sweet, sweet console, I have invested in the Ratchet & Clank trilogy, on the PS Vita, to get me through my cravings and satisfy some of that nostalgia as the titles suggests.
I’ve been giving this trilogy a go for a few weeks now, so here are my top 5 best & worst things about it.
WORST Number 5 – Controls
If we are going to start off with anything, let’s start off with one of the worst points about this series, and that is the controls. The unique thing about this point is that it is really a comment on the Vita, rather than the game itself. This is also more a point for all games on the Vita designed for consoles. Games such as Ratchet, Jak or Borderlands are going to be good on the handheld as they were great on the console. But it’s never going be the same experience as having that controller in your hands and, in this case, it’s no exception.
BEST Number 5 – Level Designs
The reason that Ratchet & Clank stole the show in the Action/Platformer genre was its diverse gameplay and levels. This is even more on display in 2&3, where the amount of visitable planets is huge. Each one has its own feel about it, providing new challenges and quirky takes on old ones as well.
WORST Number 4 – Trophies
With the re-release on Vita, it was inevitable that Trophies come into play here, and I am very divided on this as you can see with the next point. Part of the fun when playing on the PS2 was just the fun of playing. You didn’t care too much about collecting every bolt, or other shiny object, as for the most part you played just for the fun of it. Now there are trophies to look at, there is a constant reminder that you have only just breezed through the game and not fully completed it. I don’t have the time or want to 100% these games, and while that’s perfectly reasonable, I feel like the trophies are a constant reminder to me that if I truly love these games, I should get that Platinum.
BEST Number 4 – Trophies
See what I said out about my divided opinion? While all of the above is true, it is always nice to be rewarded for something you think is really cool. Ratchet & Clank is full of those moments where you just have to sit back and appreciate what you just did, and getting that little ping of a trophy completion makes it all the sweeter.
WORST Number 3 – Trilogy Bundles
I guess this also ties into the previous point and is also more of a comment about bundles in general. The problem with getting 3 games in one go is that they are all there. There is not waiting or anticipation for the next game. When you get towards the end of the game there is often a feeling of excitement, not for being close to completing one game but, but for the anticipation of starting the next.
BEST Number 3 – Fun
There really isn’t a game like Ratchet & Clank out on the current generation of consoles, and it is sorely missed. Insomniac recently came out with Sunset Overdrive for the Xbox One, which captured the nature and craziness of Ratchet but without the characters. The weapons, the people and the landscape all make Ratchet & Clank a lot of fun to play, and that’s still true after all of these years – even playing on the Vita can’t take that away.
WORST Number 2 – Random Hard Missions
Others may not find this, but in both the first and second game there are these random moments where you have to have a hoverbike race, or hoverboard in order to continue with the story, and these can be really tricky considering that you have to win the bloody thing. They can just break the pace of the game and you can find yourself stuck doing something that seems pointless. I like the fact that they are in there, but at least make them side missions and not key to continuing with the game.
BEST Number 2 – Improvements
I was tempted to put this first, as I haven’t been able to really notice this until now. One of the huge benefits of having all of these games at your disposal is being able to quickly see the difference between them. When I completed the first and moved onto the second, I was blown away by the changes that had been made and simple things that made these games so much fun to play. Simple points like pausing in the weapon quick select menu, or having a more improved locking mechanic. These may have been good on the console but for the Vita, these changes make a good experience a great one. While it may not be perfect, you can see the guys at Insomniac really taking the time to fix many of the key UX flaws in their games.
WORST Number 1 – Time
The term ‘rose tinted’ has to apply here. It has been a long time since Ratchet & Clank first came on the scene, and I’ve always built these games up to more than they could possible be. Games that you built your love for gaming on will never be as good on the second play through, as time takes its toll on all tech. Sure, I still love this game but it’s not what I built it up to be. This trilogy and the Jak trilogy have been great to spend time with once again, but if anything I will just build up my walls around these games and be a lot less keen to jump back into them years down the line.
BEST Number 1 – Story
Time does take its toll, but you can still see the reason you fell in love with these games in there. Ratchet & Clank, at its heart, was a fantastic story told with a great bunch of characters. The comedic timing is so hard for a video game to do, but these games just get funnier as they go. It’s never going to get you as it did the first time, as you know what’s coming, but seeing it again years later is almost like watching a classic TV show or film. You don’t watch it for the special effects or hottest actors, but for that feeling of comfort and nostalgia. As much as there is bad with this, there is nothing wrong with settling down and having this experience once again with some old friends.