Maybe it was in the middle of a five minute barrage of heat-seeking mini missiles illuminating the world in a constant shimmering brilliance, I’m not sure when or where it was. But there was definitely a moment while playing Ratchet & Clank for the Playstation 4 when I realized that it was one of the most enjoyable video games I’ve ever played.
Let’s get the superficial stuff out of the way. Ratchet & Clank is a playable 3D animated feature. Okay, maybe not Pixar quality, but definitely on par with those smaller release animated features that come out of nowhere… like the Ratchet & Clank Movie.
It’s one of those games that make wonder how much better are games going to look in five more years. If games currently look this good and games from five years ago now look that bad, I need to start saving up for a bigger and better TV to display all the future glory that’ll be bestowed unto me.
And while I acknowledge that Ratchet & Clank has simplified characters with stylized artwork, the sense of realism doesn’t seem all that diminished. And do you really want to play a game that looks exactly like your current reality (which sucks) when you can enter a magical universe full of bright colors and happy emotions that don’t want to drag you into the depths of insanity where your soul is suffocated by the harsh realization of your futile existence?
When someone says a video game has a great story, I think four times out of five they’re doing so with the mindset of a terrible golfer who’s handicapping their score to feel less terrible about their terrible golfing ability. Telling a tight, engaging story in a full-length video game is tough. Most games with a great story are either short or the developers went so heavy (rain) on storytelling to the point where it is barely a game anymore.
I appreciate it when full-length games try to tell a compelling story while also delivering on the action. But ultimately, when you really accept it for what it is, those stories are often just shoestrings holding action-packed gameplay together. With all that in mind, Ratchet & Clank has a good story. And I mean good, good. Not terrible golfer good.
It might be a while before a game dethrones The Last of Us as the best story-based game. Ratchet & Clank doesn’t really even get close to doing so, BUT I did really enjoy the story. The game progressed logically. Most characters were memorable to the point where I can recall their names (I’m surprised by how often I can’t remember character names). And the script was pretty darn clever and actually got me to chuckle on quite a few occasions.
Ultimately I felt invested in Ratchet & Clank, and not just for the raw, visceral excitement. No, I really appreciated the effort developers put into the characters and story. That being said, I sure did love blowing shit up.
You’re going to blow up a lot of shit in Ratchet & Clank and it never gets old. I think I understand gun enthusiasts a little more after playing this game… Oh God, please don’t let the NRA make RYNOs legal.
Collecting guns is fun. The sheer variety is exciting. And while some are much better than others, you still want to own all the guns. It becomes an addiction. You need every upgrade. Every holocard. Every omega variation… Oh God, Ratchet & Clank has turned me into a hoarder too?!
I need all the things! If I don’t collect all the things then my arsenal is incomplete. If my arsenal is incomplete then I can’t win! That last bit may not actually be true. But there are a ton of enemies that need blowing up and if you don’t upgrade your gear, you’re going to be stuck trying to finish a boss with nothing but Mr. Zurkon and an Omni-Wrench.
When collecting every secret is vital to getting maximum enjoyment out of a game, it better not suck to backtrack and it better be fun to replay. Luckily Ratchet & Clank checks both boxes. The levels are cleverly designed for easy backtracking. Finding all those cards and shards isn’t an arduous task.
But once you clear an area, it’s clear. Aside from a few low-level creatures, most enemies don’t respawn. So if you’re looking for a cheap and easy way to level up your weapons, don’t look backward. You won’t find a lot of help. However, once you complete the game you can replay it from the beginning with your full arsenal. What used to be a challenging game of survival is now reduced to savage, merciless murder.
Nobody stands a chance as you decimate wave after wave of Blarg soldiers with your endless supply of fully-upgraded missiles. It’s fun.
Ratchet & Clank isn’t a game that depends solely on action. It doesn’t depend solely on aesthetic. Neither does it depend solely on storytelling. But Ratchet & Clank does tell a good story with beautiful graphics and features kick-ass action. It’s a game that aspired to hit all the different aspects of quality video game development and, like the Predator Launcher, locked-on and hit every target.