The dynamic duo Ratchet and Clank made their debut back on the PlayStation 2 in 2002. This was a time when the platform genre was beginning to go into decline after dominating much of the 90’s. Ratchet & Clank combined classic platforming with elements from other genres but with a unique twist on them. The series eventually went further with the genre crossing and bending until the first Ratchet & Clank game to release on the PlayStation Vita, Full Frontal Assault/QForce. That game fared horribly on the PS Vita, but now the series has another chance to resonate on the handheld.
When the Ratchet and Clank Trilogy was announced for PlayStation 3 to celebrate the the series’ tenth annniversary, one question stood above all others: why isn’t the collection on the PS Vita? Well now, the first three games, Ratchet & Clank, Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando (called Ratchet & Clank 2 in Europe) and Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal (Ratchet & Clank 3 in Europe, of course) have been released for the PS Vita in Europe as of writing. On the whole, they have held up pretty well, but they aren’t perfect.
One of the things that can be seen with the Ratchet & Clank Trilogy is the evolution of the series. The first game has definitely aged the worst, but it’s still not a bad game with any stretch of imagination. It’s just that it’s missing quite a few features which have become series hallmarks such as weapon upgrading, strafing, armour upgrades, and mini-games which added some extra depth to the sequels. So maybe it’s for the best then that it’s being remade for the PlayStation 4.
The developer of the R&C Trilogy, Mass Media, has the collection’s three titles looking rather well on the PS Vita; the cartoon art style has helped with this aspect no doubt. However, there could have been a bit more tender, loving care on the games as they do have their problems. The cutscenes in all three games are in 4:3 aspect ratio and have big black borders on each side of the screen, and the lower overall resolution makes them look quite blurry. Each game contains a number of glitches, too, which aren’t game breaking but are distracting.
One glitch is music cutting out randomly, where sound quiets in areas. Also, sound effects sometimes don’t work, so as you are defeating your enemies, you will be doing it in complete silence. There is also the issue of slight input lag in the first game. It’s distracting and can be frustrating at first but once you get used to it, it becomes less of an issue. Another issue which is glaring but not game-breaking is the slowdown that sometimes occurs. It mainly happens when lots of explosions happen at once, but this occurs rarely. There are other minor glitches, like in the first game, the breathing gauge stays to the right of the screen after being in water, which is disappointing to see but not a big problem.
The difficulty of each game isn’t hard, but ranking them, I would put the second game as the hardest and the third as the easiest. This is purely because some may find the first one to be the hardest, since it doesn’t have strafing or the upgrade system that the newer games do, which can be difficult to go back to once you have played the sequels. However, the strafing is mapped to the rear touchpad in the other titles, which can be awkward to use without adjusting your hands. Strafing is useful when in combat, and the awkwardness of the touchpad controls can be overcome.
The weapons do vary in each game, but each has its standouts and ones that are a little overpowered; not including the RYNO though, that gun is just insane. From the trusty Onmiwrench to the various blasters, which in the sequels upgrade to have new firing styles; to the more oddball weapons like the Morph-O-Ray, which turns your enemy into a chicken; to the powerful guns with names like ‘Annihilator’ and ‘Devastator,’ there are plenty of different arms to use. Earning bolts is relatively easy, but most certainly the most difficult to do in the first game is to earn one million bolts for the trophy, which means means that you have to grind them out.
Killing enemies and earning bolts makes up most of what these games have in store, but that doesn’t make them less fun. It can be a challenge too, as more powerful enemies can kill Ratchet in just a few hits. Death also leads to your having to redo sections of a level as checkpoints in each game can be few and far between. It rarely becomes frustrating, though, especially since you level up your weapons and Ratchet’s tech as you play, and experience earned for them don’t reset after death.
If you don’t know which order to play each game, then play them in chronological order. And you should certainly play them. The wacky, childish humour, the colourful art style, the utterly bizarre weapons, the platforming: they all come together to create three very good games in one package. Each game has its own trophy list with a Platinum Trophy and they all have collectibles and bonus content to give them that extra replay value. There’s also Challenge Mode for each game once you have each completed, which seemingly doesn’t make the game harder, but it increases the amount of bolts you earn on the next playthrough and lets you keep your guns as well. It does overwrite your main save though, which is a little annoying.
The PS Vita version of the Ratchet & Clank Trilogy is a good collection of one of best series from the PS2 era. It has transferred over mostly well, and technical issues do take the shine off somewhat, but it doesn’t ruin the collection. If you are new to the Ratchet & Clank series, then this is a good place to start, but veterans may only want this collection if they really want to play Ratchet & Clank. It’s a good value for the money and the digital version will also get you the PS3 version of the R&C Trilogy for no extra charge. That’s Europe only as of yet, since the PS Vita version isn't available in North America yet.
-The Final Word-
The remarkable gameplay of Ratchet and Clank's first three adventures holds up in this great HD package, but don't expect a pitch-perfect port.