Since me and the missus played through Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One – a soon-to-be-expired Playstation Plus gimme – I've been developing an insatiable thirst to play a real, full-on Ratchet platformer. I considered A Crack in Time, a game I consider to be a masterpiece and modern classic, but I'd already uncovered every inch of it several times before. I took to the PSN to see if the original Ratchet and Clank HD remasters had been released yet. They were! And so I decided to go all the way back to the beginning and play the very first entry in the series, which I hadn't played since it's release nearly a decade ago.
I figured I'd have a good time reliving my twelve-year-old gaming palette, but I was surprised at just how well Ratchet and Clank holds up. It's still a terrific game, and one fit both to be revisited or discovered for the first time.
Visually, Ratchet and Clank HD looks awesome. I mean, you can tell that it's a Playstation 2 game at heart. You won't mistake it for the amazing artwork of Insomniac's more recent R&C games. But it still looks great. Like Naughty Dog's Jak and Daxter HD Collection similarly proved, the visuals in Ratchet were ahead of their time. Simple texture work and bold colours were a limitation of the hardware but also worked into the expressive, cartoony style of the graphics, and the effect only gets stronger with pristine sharpness and a high-def resolution. You can play it in 3D as well, though I'm not equipped for that and couldn't test it out. The only drag are the pre-rendered cutscenes that play in 4:3 with a fair amount of artifacting. It's a shame, because the cutscenes are well-done and get you through the minimal story with some good laughs. Watch 'em anyway, even if it does hurt your eyes next to the remastered visuals.
The gameplay also holds up amazingly well; I can't say I expected to have as good a time playing Ratchet and Clank than I did ten years ago. But again, like the Jak and Daxter trilogy re-release, this R&C touch-up cements its status as a classic even further. The controls tighten up when you turn just slightly left and right, presumably the help out with moving and aiming at the same time. It felt a little stiff at first, but it didn't take long to get adjusted. The weapons are still a ton of fun to use, and some tricky platforming challenges have been a stressful pleasure, thanks to some great physics that make guiding Ratchet through the air feel natural.
There's a lot of other current and near-future releases crowding my attention lately, but I'm definitely going to keep plugging on through Ratchet and Clank HD. The three are available individually on PSN for fifteen bones a piece, or you can opt for a 30 dollar retail version of the game that includes all three PS2 Ratchet odysseys.