‘Ratchet & Clank’ Game Review: This Is Not Ratchet

Ratchet & Clank (Image: Sony)

Ratchet & Clank (2016) (Image: Sony)

Ratchet & Clank was one of the first series that started strong in the Playstation 2 3-D games era. Humorously directed with polka dots of drama brought players a unique sci-fi story that was both relatable and space-y. This being said, Ratchet is a furry mascot, and through the Sonic the Hedgehog method has met the worst fate of all: marketing for movies and television.

There’s nothing like stabbing your loyal fans in the back in a way that makes everybody love the series more, and the best way to do this is to appeal to children. The game immediately references the movie, suggesting you to see it in theaters like a subtle, classy game would. All the dialogue is toned down and all the focus is on the visuals and plot that is now just a generic mess without its prior spunk. Its attempts to be dramatic are no longer successful now that the writers have made “writing for PG” their main focus and has resulted in the edgy writing we’ve all grown to hate.

Let me make this clear: I don’t hate children. Sure, I might have an urge to kick a child or two from time to time, but who doesn’t? Ratchet & Clank‘s previous audience was a collection of teenagers and people in their late-20’s, a crowd that appreciates humor and characters that aren’t bubbly and generic. Below is the new Ratchet and Clank, and if Ratchet doesn’t look bubbly to you, then you are by far the farthest from being ratchet, you blind sheep.

“Boy howdy, we sure are two exciting, innocent adventurers! Watch our crazy adventures, kids! Cowabunga!”

I’ve always wanted Ratchet & Clank to succeed, yet the game was never cut out for the big screen and vice versa. When a game is constructed for a movie, the game’s gameplay is forced. The cutscenes are straight from the movie, but many things in the game don’t make you feel like you’re playing a game where you are in control, given options and challenge. The game is a cakewalk unless you choose a higher difficulty level and all of the puzzles are skippable. You choose a planet and feel like you’re free roaming, yet you’re actually REQUIRED to complete all the tasks and backtrack in order to unlock other planets. Certain upgrades (the Thrusterpack) don’t do anything that you couldn’t already do. The “Quark narration” tutorial makes you want to take a shot every time you hear “try as he might, Ratchet could not breathe underwater.” Enemy shots and necessary powerups are extremely tough to spot due to “enhanced graphics” making everything look more “realistic.” Finally, perhaps worst of all, Clank barely says a word. It’s called “Ratchet & Clank” not “Squirrel Wearing a Toaster Backpack.” A false sense of control combined with weak characters makes this game just as bad as the movie, if not worse.

Ratchet & The Smol Iron Giant isn’t a bad game by today’s standards, but it’s lost its unique voice that made people want to get their games in the first place. The graphics are good and there are jokes, but it’s all soulless. Nobody is rude or crude, there are next to no sex jokes, and, worst of all, the plumber no longer has plumber’s crack. I know these seem like silly things to complain about, but Ratchet & Clank was a quirky series filled with references and innuendos. When you remove these factors to make a game E10+, you forget why people loved the series in the first place.

The most egregious example is how Ratchet is a genuinely good person who loves rescuing and is given all the credit he seeks to earn. That’s terrible, Clank and Quark should be getting all the credit while Ratchet begs for his right to be treated like any normal human- or in this case alien-being. Life sucks; the player knows this and can relate to Ratchet, rooting for him despite his faults.

Clarification paragraph: I’m doing some of my “you suck for liking this reboot” shtick ironically. I’m aware that Reboot & Clank deserves a 7/10 for gameplay alone, yet considering where we came from, I personally believe the franchise has taken a step back. It’s the same way big games always lose their spunk: the belief that better graphics equals a better game, which is where the industry is idiotically headed towards.

Ratchet & Clank might be headed towards marketing mayhem, but it’s still a lighthearted 3-D shooter with crazy weapons and abilities. The card game they introduce is interesting and references the older games people have loved over the years. Characters might not be what they used to be, yet they still retain most, if not all, of their original voices from previous installments. The graphics are incredible, especially during cutscenes. All in all, Ratchet & Clank is a truly barely passable game despite its many, many faults.

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