Ratchet and Clank HD Collection review
Insomniac Games sure knows how to cement a legacy. After doing wondrous things for Spyro the Dragon over on the PS One, the team moved on to a new franchise on the PlayStation 2, featuring a heroic Lombax and a straightforward (yet useful) sidekick as they made their way across a trouble-filled galaxy, helping out the clueless (yet noble) Captain Qwark and various other types while battling villainous droids and aliens. Yep, Ratchet and Clank was something special…and still is today, thanks to one of Sony's best HD collections to date on the PlayStation 3.
Ratchet and Clank HD Collection contains three of the pair's first games -- their self-titled debut adventure and their two following sequels, Going Commando and Up Your Arsenal. In each one, there's plenty of run and gun action across various planets, while also incorporating Ratchet's big wrench as both a melee and projectile weapon. Even more, he could actually use it as a wrench in some places, unwinding gears to open doors or activate switches. Meanwhile, Clank provides his own uses, including the ability to high jump and hover when strapped onto Ratchet's back. He would get a more expansive role in sequels (as well as the Secret Agent Clank spin-off), but he's definitely a great addition here.
All three games have been given the high definition treatment with upgraded visuals and 3D support. There are times that some wear and tear from the treatment shows, such as on character animations when they're speaking. But for the most part, Idol Minds has done stupendous work recreating Ratchet's earlier worlds into a rich new presentation. What's more, the action moves at a steady pace, mostly at 60 frames per second, with barely any loading to get in the way. Even the bigger aliens don't pose a threat on the game's performance.
And like all Ratchet and Clank games, HD Collection features all the fun, adventuresome music tracks from the originals, as well as the quality voice acting we've come to appreciate. We still can't enough of Captain Qwark, sounding like Batman's brother but then being oh-so-quick to quiver when real danger arrives. Oh, Qwark.
As a bonus, Idol Minds also managed to include Up Your Arsenal's multiplayer mode, supported by the PlayStation Network. While it's not the most engaging versus match-up you'll find out there, fans will find it's a blast from the past, fun to play with your friends without having to worry about an iffy PS2 Internet connection.
The gameplay in general is quite surprising. Even for titles that are years old, Ratchet and Clank HD Collection feels fresh and innovative, especially when the Lombax adds new weapons to his fold, including the chicken gun and a black hole creator. Wow. You have to collect some bolts to get the good stuff, but players won't mind. The earlier games rely a bit on platforming, while Up Your Arsenal works best when it comes to running and gunning. Overall, it's a fair balance.
But some little bits and pieces are missing. While Ratchet and Clank HD Collection has hours worth of gameplay at a reasonable price of $30, we couldn't help but think Insomniac's recently announced Ratchet Deadlocked HD should've been added, instead of being sold separately. Even though it was a bit of an off-shoot in the series, it was still an important chapter. And for that matter, why wasn't a beta code for the upcoming Ratchet and Clank: Full Frontal Assault thrown in? This would've been a prime opportunity.
Ah, well, apples and oranges, phasers and chicken guns. These minor quibbles can't stop Ratchet and Clank HD Collection's momentum. The presentation in each game is fantastic, the gameplay stays in true form across the board, and the online Up Your Arsenal multiplayer is a treat. And all this for $30 -- that means you can save some of your precious bolts and still have a glorious time.