Sunday, May 12, 2013

Ratchet & Clank Collection

At the same time God of War Saga was released, two other HD Collections were released as part of Sony's new Collection series, one of which is today's subject, Ratchet & Clank Collection. This collection gathers the first three games in the series, Ratchet & Clank, Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando, and Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal, and slaps on an HD coat of paint with some minor tweaks. While this game came out before Full Frontal Assault did, I played that one first because at the time I had gotten both this and that game, Full Frontal Assault was shorter and more recent. That said, this one took a bit longer than I thought it would because of school (and with Finals coming up, I'm glad I finally finally finished it), but despite that taking priority I actually had a good time with this Collection in my off time, though it has some minor issues.

In terms of visual quality, the graphics of the games look better than they did in the original versions, which is complimented nicely with a much better draw distance (especially in the original Ratchet & Clank) than there was before. However, there at least one or two things that don't quite make it through the HD upgrade, such as a section in Going Commando involving a small pool of water where your perspective with the camera changes whether or not the submerged rocks even exist. A couple of minor, albeit somewhat noticeable changes are also made in both the audio and visual departments, such as changing Save and Load icons to a brain in a jar (instead of a Memory Card) and another section in Going Commando where a particular bit of audio was actually muted (I'm not sure why they did this). However, as the ability to gain a bonus from your Saves is kept throughout each game, making this collection especially worth it, the icon for reading the old Save is still that of a Memory Card.

Now while the transition from Standard to High Def is great, there is one particular tidbit that deserves mentioning, namely the HD version of Going Commando (yes, this game again). While Ratchet & Clank and Up Your Arsenal are still SD-friendly, I noticed, having played on an SD TV, that the HD version of Going Commando is actually slightly bigger than the other two games, which means the very top of the HUD is cut off a little bit. While I did get used to this as I played, this can be a little annoying since there's no way to readjust the screen. Just a little heads up for those who don't have an HD TV but wish to play these classics for the first time. There's also sort of a minor problem with the audio in Up Your Arsenal, where close to the end of a cutscene the visual will stutter a little, causing the audio to become slightly out of synch (this is put on full display during one specific scene, which you will know when you see it). The checkpoint system of the games can become annoying due to today's standards, though on the bright side it can help you prepare your moves better in advance.

One of the many obstacles Ratchet must overcome in the first game.

One thing that can't go unmentioned is that this collection has a multiplayer function, specifically the multiplayer of Up Your Arsenal, while Going Commando's multiplayer capability is removed entirely (that game has a lot of problems in the HD version, doesn't it?). For those of you that have played the multiplayer mode after the servers went down, you'll be glad to hear that the servers are back online. I can't say how well they function because I'm not the Online type of guy, but my experience in the Local version proves that it's still a better experience with more than two people.

Although I can't exactly make a comment on it, there's something I find rather interesting about this collection. According to the fan-edited Ratchet & Clank Wiki, one release of this set (presumably not the US release that I have) includes an extra bit of plot that manages to make Ratchet & Clank Collection canon to the Ratchet & Clank timeline. If this is true, that is actually kind of awesome since no one (as far as I know) seems to have done that before and I give Insomniac props for creating an extra bit of incentive to own the collection (though for me it was the chance to play a Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time demo, which is no longer an option for someone picking this release up for the first time due to it being a download voucher).

Despite a few quibbles here and there, Ratchet & Clank Collection is a collection worth having in your library. This is especially a must-have for people who have never played Ratchet & Clank before or if you want to relive these classics and no longer have the original game. However, I would keep the screen size problem with Going Commando in mind if you don't own an HD set, but it doesn't particularly get in the way of the experience too much.

So if you're new to Ratchet & Clank, start your journey with this collection.

It'll have you screaming for more.

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