Ratchet and Clank – It’s Qwarktastic!

RatcehtandclankeuropeI apologise for being gone for a while, what with work, the World Cup and so on. You know all the usual excuses. But I’ve got a day off so I’m taking the time to write this review I’ve been meaning to do since January.

Thanks to The Otaku Judge’s wonderful suggestion, a blog you really should check out if you love all that is anime, I shall be reviewing all my Ratchet & Clank games. This may take a while but I hope you stick with me because Ratchet & Clank are worth it! OK, not let’s get to that ever present obligatory overview of the very first Ratchet & Clank game.

On the sparsely populated planet of Veldin Ratchet, a Lombax (a bipedal cat-like creature) is putting the finishing touches on his spaceship he built himself, being an accomplished engineer. However he is missing one crucial part: a robotic ignition system. However, as it would just so happen, a spaceship crash lands on Veldin containing a small but eloquent robot named XJ-0461, whom Ratchet calls Clank for short.

Clank reveals he is on a mission to stop the villainous Chairman Drek from destroying other planets so he can create a new one and asks Ratchet to help- him find Captain Qwark, the galaxy’s most famous hero. By getting Ratchet’s ship to start, Ratchet and Clank start an adventure that will lead them across their galaxy, with many planets, villains, weapons and a great amount of humour along the way.

224375-ratchet_and_clank_1So I’m just going to get off the mark and say this right now. There are problems with this game. I know, I know heresy you may say but it’s true. One thing that irritated me about the game even when I first played it in 2002 is the slowness of the camera. It turns so slowly that it takes the onus out of the quick gameplay Ratchet & Clank aspires to.

One of the most visible points of this is when you get the weapon the Visibomb. It’s a fun weapon for destroying targets miles away by controlling the bomb without fear of being hit by your target but my god, if you miss the turning circle on the Visibomb is about as wide as the gulf between Germany and Brazil’s goal difference. Yes, I did just make a reference to that semi-final, and no I don’t care. It’s still valid.

But back to my point, the slowness of the camera is aggravating after years of playing games with more receptive controls so it may have been a small niggle then, but it has grown to a niggle out of all proportion.

Another thing that left me wishing for something better was the lock-on system the weapons have. When playing the game and, for instance, you choose to use your Blaster or Devastator, you can lock on to one enemy to help you shoot at it. This can be helpful, however it will sometimes decide you want to fight a small enemy instead of the large lumbering boss that is about to make you as flat as some of my jokes. It leaves you shouting at the controller going “NO!! I WANT TO SHOOT HIM, NOT HIM!” and then resulting in you getting hit and possible death.

Something else that irritated me, I seem to have more than I thought to be honest, is that space fights were too easy. Even on hard mode if you discover the one tactic for dealing with oncoming projectiles, you can easily defeat any boss in space. Although not all space battles are the same, it sometimes feels that by having one tactic you can easily win, unless you hit an asteroid and start the whole thing again.

But in the end these are just minor gripes with a game that I was afraid I would hate in comparison to the new and shiny Future Trilogy and I just didn’t. The humour, the constant which the series has yet to fail in my book, sets great precedent in this game. While not in your face humour, the small jokes, visual gags and witty dialogue greatly complements the platformer style of the game.

Pretty decent for 2002 graphics
Pretty decent for 2002 graphics

The graphics while not as great as they used to be twelve years down the line do not seem to have been wholly been made ghastly. Rather they have a brilliant retro feel about them that almost makes the game feel a little bit timeless.

But the games real forte is its wealth of imagination. The use of bolts as currency, while not a new thing as alternate currencies have been around in gaming for a while, seems ingenious as most things you pay for with bolts are weapons. I like to think you need so many bolts because it helps you make those weapons.

Furthermore the amount, variety and downright craziness of some weapons are a wonder to behold. While there are your bog standard hand gun (the Blaster), rocket launcher (the Devastator) and so on, the Tesla Claw which shoots electricity, the Morph-O-Ray which turns enemies into chickens and, of course the R.Y.N.O (Rip You A New One) which shoots nine missiles per attack which seeks onto all enemies is just like putting a kid into a sweetshop… and then giving him a multi-missile launcher.

Also the plot is brilliantly woven together. There is no planet feels visited for no particular reason as there is always something that helps the plot move along. Both Ratchet and Clank get their gameplay, with Ratchet taking on the bulk with Clank assisting, and then to get mini missions with Clank at the command of Gadgetron bots allows for both characters to gain recognition for their talents in their own right.

He may be small, but damn he packs a great amount of villainy in his tiny size.

Now I must say that Ratchet and Clank have some of the greatest chemistry in gaming that has ever occurred. They are such believable friends as, while their friendship is only in its infancy, they make such a great team, relying on each other in great measures. I almost want to use a Yin-Yang metaphor, but I shall refrain from doing so. Their character arcs are deep, but leave enough room for development for further games, as all gaming characters should.

But no game like this would be complete without a villain and Drek is all that and more. While this may be nostalgia making me see Drek in a more horrific light, but Drek is still the greatest villain in Ratchet & Clank’s history. He carves up planets without regard for their inhabitants all to build a new planet for the Blarg (his race), whose home planet has been polluted beyond recognition.

With eco-warnings aside, this is a brilliant villain whose every move makes you want his defeat to come all the more sooner, yet not so hateable that you don’t find his presence on screen annoying. Drek is a truly brilliant villain that you love to hate.

Much later, and better graphics, but all hail the bumbling imbecile Captain Qwark!
Much later, and better graphics, but all hail the bumbling imbecile Captain Qwark!

However there is one character that, no matter what he does, you cannot help but love, and that is the ever present Captain Qwark. Qwark, while elusive for most of the game, is a source for so much humour, whether it being his bumbling incompetence or just his general inflated ego beyond, Qwark manages to be loveable and funny in a way that has meant he survives on through all Ratchet & Clank games to date.

While this has not been the most critical of reviews, there is really little to fault with this inaugural effort by Insomniac Games. Ratchet & Clank is a well-paced, well thought out and highly entertaining game that will leave you begging for more. And for all those who have not played any of the Ratchet & Clank games, go and do so now. The ride may be bumpy on certain games, but the overall ride reaches dizzying heights, all from such humble beginnings on the PlayStation 2. And there are making a revamped version to coincide with the release of the Ratchet & Clank Movie in 2015 for the PlayStation 4 so definitely get that!

Thanks again for reading my review and I hope you enjoyed it! Please leave comments below, like the review if you did and follow me here on WordPress, Facebook and Twitter.

4 thoughts on “Ratchet and Clank – It’s Qwarktastic!

  1. The Otaku Judge

    Thanks for the shout out. The targeting sounds a bit like the issues I had with 3rd Birthday. Stop auto locking on that guy, I want to shoot the other enemy! It will be interesting to see the franchise’s transition to the big screen.


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