Ratchet & Clank (PS4) review – Just like old times, only better

What’s old is new again

Insomniac and Sony have timed the release with Ratchet & Clank to match up with the film that’s hitting theaters at the end of this month. On April 12, we get the game that serves as a sort of reboot for this franchise (one character even calls it a reboot in the game), then we get the flick that Sony’s hopping will propel this series to new heights.

As someone who played the original a ton back in the early 2000s, I can say that this new takeon Ratchet & Clank feels like a mix of old and fresh. It’s strange, really. It wasn’t until I actually dug up a wiki of the original game’s items, weapons and gadgets that I realized exactly how much Insomniac changed.

A few of my own screenshots.

Guns have been swapped out, for instance. Old weapons that I remember hating in the original have been replaced with much more useful, destructive and creative stuff. That’s Insomniac’s bread and butter as a studio; they make incredible weapons in their games. Ratchet & Clank has always been the proof of that concept, and seeing the original redone with even better weapons is sort of mind-numbing.

There’s a new weapon selector on the D-pad. You can just tap a direction to choose between four of your favorite weapons, and you can hold on a direction to assign a weapon to whichever quick access slot you need. It’s a convenience tweak, basically. It’s not necessary, but it makes the game feel more like a modern one than an old one.

Hoverboard races have been altered a little, level layouts feel different, other convenience tweaks have been added and boring stuff has been removed. Remember, Insomniac’s made a whole lot of Ratchet & Clank since the original launched in 2002. The series was incredible for a while, but some PlayStation 3 stuff had it failing a bit… not counting the Future iterations, I actually enjoyed those, too.

With all that Ratchet below their belt, Insomniac has really honed in on what makes this franchise so fun and rewarding. It’s tight, it runs beautifully, the weapons feature that tried and true upgrade system, the graphics are fantastic and the humor feels genuine.

These are all hallmarks of this franchise, right? The team took the game that started that trend, and they made it better. It feels like an improved version of the original, and that’s so wonderful for fans.

Insomniac also made some changes to the way the game tells its story, too. I won’t be ruining things, but the changes range from major to minor. Cutscenes have been redone entirely, but big plot beats have either been dropped or totally swapped out. It felt like a fairly new story to me, but that might simply be because it’s been a long, long time since I’ve played the original in earnest.

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