doctor_kaz's Ratchet & Clank Collection (PlayStation 3) review

The graphics have actually aged better than the gameplay

After falling madly in love with the first two iterations of Ratchet and Clank on the PS3, I decided to go back and experience the original trilogy. After all, They’ve got to still be great games, just without the graphics, right? To my surprise, I found that the graphics from this classic trilogy have aged better than the gameplay. The colorful art style, shown in 720p for this collection, is the kind of timeless look that doesn’t lose its appeal. The gameplay, however, suffers from some little problems that demonstrate just how many minor improvements have been made in the past ten years to make games more fun and less frustrating. This series is still a good one though, and it is flawlessly recreated here. So, if you are looking to re-experience it, or if you have simply exhausted all of the games that you wish to play on your PS3, then the Ratchet and Clank Collection is worth owning.

In case you are new to this series, the Ratchet and Clank games are known for their gadget-based puzzle solving, platforming, cartoonish humor, and wacky weapons. Battles are frenetic affairs, with lots of enemies shooting at you while you run around the room, chewing through your cheap ammunition by the ton. You collect money to buy new weapons and armor, and you gain experience (for both you and your weapons) by killing enemies. The weapons come in all varieties, although they generally fall into a role of “crowd control, sniper, machine gun, or shotgun”. They include interesting inventions like the Sheepinator, a ray that turns enemies into sheep, and a vacuum that sucks up enemies and shoots out pieces of them like a shotgun. For as unique as these weapons are, their effects aren’t always very interesting. The lava gun, for example doesn’t shoot anything that looks like lava. It shoots a narrow ribbon that looks like Silly String.

As far as I can tell, there is nothing wrong in this game that was introduced by the porting process. It runs very well, and the graphics hold up surprisingly well, now that they are in HD. The old pre-rendered cut scenes are still in 480p though, and boy, do they look ugly. The downside of this series is that it shows its age from a gameplay standpoint. Although lots of levels take place outdoors, the navigable areas are pretty small and bare. The areas that are more open are really bare. The size doesn’t just bite into the game’s exploration mojo – it also causes the camera to become problematic on a regular basis. 3D platforming was still in its adolescence at the time, and it shows with all kinds of little unrefined bumps, like the crummy interface for Ratchet and Clank 2. There are a lot of mini-games and side activities, like racing, space battles, and hang gliding. The controls for these activities range from mediocre to poor, and, in general, you won’t want to finish them unless you are a trophy hound or you need extra money. The only good minigames in this series are the little video game cartridges that you find in Ratchet and Clank 3 (Up your Arsenal). Those are quite fun, actually. The game is also somewhat of a throwback to the days when instant failure was more common and checkpoints were further apart. I wouldn’t call any of these games hard, but they do have some frustrating sequences. The camera, while tolerable, gets in the way in a few places.

These little flaws aside, this package is an excellent value, and it has three fairly fun games from a genre that has all but disappeared. In a console gaming world filled with gray, cover-based shooters and open world action games, The Ratchet and Clank Collection is actually kind of refreshing. Besides nostalgia, the classics from this series have a lot to offer, so go ahead and give them a shot.

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