In anticipation of the upcoming Ratchet & Clank game and movie, I decided to replay the original PS2 game from 2002 to compare it to the new game on PS4, which acts as a re-imagining of the original game. This was also an opportunity for me to not only reevaluate my opinion on the game, if necessary, but also to see if I could write a better review of it (since I don’t think my writing skills were all that great, though I am still learning even now). So to celebrate this new chapter in the Ratchet & Clank series, I present a look back at Ratchet & Clank on the PS2.
Chairman Drek (Kevin Michael Richardson) has been attacking other worlds around the galaxy so as to build a new homeworld for the Blarg, using pieces from those other worlds. Meanwhile, a small robot named XJ-0461, later known as Clank (David Kaye), was created on planet Quartu, where he made off with an Infobot and crash-landed on planet Veldin. It is there that he meets a Lombax named Ratchet (Michael Kelley) (Note: the term “Lombax” does not appear until Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando), who begrudgingly joins Clank to search for Captain Qwark (Jim Ward), whom he believes can stop Drek.
While the plot moves along well, with the idea that Ratchet and Clank are meant to be opposites that eventually attract, I found Ratchet to be kind of a jerk, but not the fun kind. Especially in comparison to later installments, he has a personality that can be kind of a turn-off, with him being self-centered and casually insulting people that know more about engineering than he does. With the help of Clank, who is meant to act as a foil, he does straighten out by the end, coming more in line with how he is later on in the series. With the new re-imagining on the way, his personality would actually be a rather welcome retcon.
As for the gameplay, it still holds up well, providing the foundation for later games in the series to improve upon. Coming back from later games, I had to remember that the Quick-Select, in which you can quickly switch between weapons and gadgets, works in real time rather than stopping time long enough for you to make your choice. Still, as it is, the game has a lot of variety in its level design, which encourages exploration to obtain hidden extras, and there is a large amount of variety in the weaponry you can pick from. Aside from the standard OmniWrench 8000, weapons range from the normal blasters and bombs to outlandish abilities like turning your enemies into chickens. Then there’s the elusive R.Y.N.O. (Rip You a New One), which is the most expensive weapon at 150,000 Bolts (the series currency), but once you do get it, it is very much worth it.
The graphics, while obviously not as good as later games (being a PS2 game and all), are still good for what they are, helped by the fact that the game uses a more cartoonish art style. The voice acting is still good, although I would agree that Michael Kelley’s Ratchet, as good as it is, is no James Arnold Taylor. Even after all this time, I still found myself moving to the music, which fits in perfectly with the tone of the game as well as that of each planet.
After 14 years, I would say that the original Ratchet & Clank game, while feeling different from what would come later, still holds up after all this time. If you haven’t played Ratchet & Clank before, this is overall a good starting point despite its imperfections. With the PS4 re-imagining on the way, as well as the movie, it remains to be seen if those are good points in which to jump into the franchise. For what it is though, this game can also be played by those waiting for said re-imagining as a way to compare and contrast the two different versions of the story. Looking to these future installments, I wish success not only for this alternate take, but also further success for the foreseeable future of the Ratchet & Clank franchise.