Content of the article: "Ratchet & Clank (2016): An Iconic Duo That Proves Their Staying Power?"
Ratchet & Clank is a series that's been around for a long time. I played the first few as a kid. I remember them being fun little platformer games. Never beat any of them. I missed the entire spin-off era (Size Matters, Deadlocked, Secret Agent Clank) and dabbled with both Tools Of Destruction and A Crack In Time.
All 4 One was actually the first Ratchet & Clank game that I beat. So I went into this one with fond memories of all the entries I played, but none of them held my attention long enough (save for the aforementioned All 4 One) to see through to completion.
Well, I beat Ratchet & Clank (2016).
It was consistent. The best part of the game was the weapons and how creative they are. That's a staple of this series, and for my money's worth, it's also the thing that's kept the series relevant. If you strip out those elements you're left with a pretty basic platformer.
There's few things as fun as making a bunch of enemies trying to kill you suddenly break out in dance because you fired a disco ball from your Groovitron or you hear your death-dealing Mr. Zurkon shout out "I still hear hearts beating!" during the fray of combat.
Those moments are when Ratchet & Clank swings. The inventive weapons merge with the at-times standard platformer fare and give you something you can't get anywhere else.
I also want to take a moment and say that the series has done an admirable job of adapting towards a younger audience. Though I do miss the original trilogy's raunchy jokes and more suggestive humor, what's here works because of a shift more towards genre-awareness thanks to Captain Qwark's narration of the events.
And it's here where things start to divide. A lot of it works: the aforementioned Qwarks' narration is a hugely succcesful element. And the game makes it known numerous times that it's aware it's a reboot (and a reboot based on a movie at that). The moments of genre-savvy humor and homages paid to the original are great.
However, the fact that it's based on a movie (or, that they chose to base it on the movie rather than just a remake of the 2002 game) hurts the game more than it helps. The plot's pretty standard fare and the story doesn't hold many surprises (Ratchet failing at his first attempt to stop the Deplanetizer being the sole standout) but when the game shifts over to the CGI cutscenes it takes you out of the moment. It forces you to confront the reality that despite the fact that you're playing at at-times gorgeous game, we are just not at CGI level graphics yet.
That's where the gameplay steps up. Both the Mrs. Zurkon and Captain Qwark boss battles stand out as very fun, with the former being my personal favorite. However, the final boss, Dr. Nefarious, was a huge difficulty spike for me. I almost cranked it down to easy but my pride wouldn't allow me to put a "kids" game on a lower difficulty just to beat it.
So, I powered through.
I'm left feeling (mostly) satisfied. Platformers are far from my preferred genre, so the moment-to-moment gameplay doesn't do it for me. The story suffers because of the film it's based on (or, adhering too closely to it), but the game continues to shine where it matters: gameplay and creative weapons. Those, coupled with the two boss battles I mentioned make this one worth playing.
I'm looking forward to Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, and I'm liking what I'm seeing.
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