Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Ratchet & Clank


To celebrate the release of the fourth Sly Cooper game, Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time, in 2012, we on this blog have decided to play every game in the Sly Cooper, Jak and Daxter, and Ratchet & Clank series, beginning with Ratchet & Clank. To start things off, I will be reviewing the original Ratchet & Clank game, released in 2002 for the PlayStation 2.

The story begins on the planet Veldin, where we see protagonist Ratchet working on a ship. In a factory on planet Quartu, the robot Clank is created by accident on an assembly line, escaping in another ship soon after. He later crash-lands on Ratchet's home world, where the two title characters meet. Clank then tells Ratchet about the evil Chairman Drek of the Blarg race, who plans to create a new planet by taking apart and destroying other planets. In order to stop Drek, the two team up in search of the help of galactic hero Captain Qwark. There are also some interesting plot twists spread throughout the campaign, allowing the player to remain invested until the very end.

The characters themselves are rather enjoyable, and the talented voice acting helps the dialogue feel more natural, especially when Ratchet and Clank's personalities bounce off each other. The game also has some really neat background music; sometimes I would go back and replay a stage just to keep listening to it for a while.

The game has a standard system of combat, mainly just destroying anyone in your path, but it comes with a large variety of weapons ranging from close-quarter combat weapons to an entire ensemble of guns and bombs. The guns themselves range from conventional blasts to (guided) missiles and even bolts of electricity. Once you gather enough of these weapons, you have more room to experiment with how to take down certain foes, including times when you run low on ammo. When you do run low, you can always smash open ammo crates or buy more ammo from Gadgetron vendors.

Which brings me to a point on the Save system. During the game, you can Save your progress whenever you want to, but when you come back to the game at a later point or load a previous Save, what it looks for instead is the last Autosave. This is a little odd, though you can work around it, but then there's what happens when you die. When you die, you are sent back to the previous checkpoint with all the ammo and Bolts (in-game currency) you had from before your untimely end, meaning you must re-purchase ammo if no crates are nearby. While this normally isn't too big a problem, it can get frustrating when you're running rather low on Bolts, sometimes causing you to backtrack levels in order to obtain more. Once you get around this, getting past difficult stages is satisfying.

The graphics are impressive for a nearly 10-year-old game, although I ran into an oddity a few times where mountain and rock renders would noticeably rise up as you were walking toward them. Aside from this and the slightly-lower quality cutscenes, the game is really good with having interesting visuals. Even in the darker-lit stages of each world everything really stands out, which is really helpful. There is also a good amount of replay value present, with the collecting of Gold Bolts and an option for New Game + once you finish the story.

Ratchet & Clank provides a good start for the franchise, but it isn't perfect. Despite its shortcomings it provides an enjoyable experience, but once you have enough weapons and upgrades the game really starts kicking into high gear. Here's hoping for improvement as we go further into this series.

No comments:

Post a Comment