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Game Info:

Ratchet & Clank
Developed by: Insomniac Games
Published by: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Release date: April 12, 2016
Available on: PlayStation 4
Genre: Platformer, Shooter
Number of players: Single-Player
ESRB Rating: E 10+ for animated blood, fantasy violence
Price: $29.00
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As one of PlayStation’s most popular franchises, Ratchet & Clank was bound to release a game for the PS4 system. The franchise’s latest title, simply titled Ratchet & Clank, is a reboot to the PlayStation 2 classic and a tie in to the 2016 animated film. Boasting spectacular visuals and an explosive gameplay style, Ratchet & Clank is one of the most enjoyable PS4 games currently available.

The story to the game mostly follows the original 2002 game’s plot, though many things change in the second half of the game. Ratchet is a mechanic who one day meets a defective warbot named Clank. The two of them try to stop an evil businessman named Chairman Drek from blowing up planets in order to salvage the remains and create his own planet. The plot is fairly straightforward, but it is not exactly interesting. Despite it being a reboot, the game acts as if you are already familiar with all of the characters. Because of this, there is not much interaction or development among the cast. I was surprised to find that Ratchet and Clank do not seem to talk much other than Clank giving Ratchet mission objectives.

Despite the lackluster storytelling, the game maintains a solid sense of humor. The game consistently proves to be quite funny and the voice cast is great. James Arnold Taylor now voices Ratchet in the one story he did not (Mikey Kelly voiced him in the original version). David Kaye and Jim Ward again voice Clank and Captain Quark, both performing as well as usual. However, one change in the voice cast is rather disappointing. Hollywood star Paul Giamatti replaces Kevin Michael Richardson as Chairmen Drek, and the result is a very awkward-sounding performance. Any line of Drek’s dialogue that is exclusive to the game is performed by Eric Bauza, but unfortunately his acting is just as awkward. None of this is helped by Drek’s poorly written character, who’s entire dialogue seems to consist of jokes that are not funny.

Ratchet & Clank
Highlights:

Strong Points: Beautiful graphics, both artistically and technically; series-renown weapons; major gameplay improvements to the original; genuinely funny dialogue; great voice cast
Weak Points: Underdeveloped story; occasionally lazy character animations; smaller world sizes; Chairmen Drek’s character and voice
Moral Warnings: Cartoonish violence; animated blood

Many of the gameplay mechanics are similar to the classic 3D platformer games of the early 2000s, such as Jak and Daxter or Crash Bandicoot. What makes the Ratchet & Clank series unique from other 3D platformers is its weapons and chaotic action. The reboot is no exception. As you progress through the game, you are able to purchase several different weapons, each featuring a unique style of combat. Some are as simple as throwing grenades, while others are as crazy as turning enemies into sheep. The end result is an incredible, mayhem-inducing spectacle of a game.

Some elements to the gameplay have been added to since the original. Weapon upgrades, which were introduced later in the series, are now possible. Weapons can be leveled up five times in the first play through and ten times in a harder mode called “Challenge Mode.” You can also purchase weapon upgrades using a currency known as “Raritanium.” There are other additions from the original. “Holocard” collecting, an addition that is brand new to the franchise, involves you collecting various cards to complete sets. Each set gives you additional enhancements and available weapons for purchase.

Unfortunately, the level design is a bit too similar to the original title. Though the worlds themselves look fine, they end up being rather small compared to many of today’s triple-A titles. I cannot complain too much about this, though. At least the gameplay is deep and engaging, unlike many of today’s “open-world” games (e.g. No Man’s Sky). I would rather play a game with small worlds and a lot of depth than a game with big worlds and little depth.

Ratchet & Clank
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 87%
Gameplay - 17/20
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 8.5/10
Stability - 4/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 88%
Violence - 6/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 8/10

Of course, the most obvious update to the game is its graphics. Unlike other remakes that simply smooth out previous graphics, Ratchet & Clank has completely redone its visual presentation, resulting in one of the most beautiful remakes ever made. Its cartoony style is full of color and is notably easier to look at than many of today’s more mature-looking games. However, it’s not quite the best looking game I have played. Though visually the game is beautiful, many of the cinematics are reduced to simple animation bits where the characters hardly move. This hinders the storytelling, which was not very spectacular to begin with. It is also worth mentioning that the framerate can lag a bit during gameplay when the action gets too intense. Despite these minor issues, the game is always a joy to look at while in gameplay.

There is not much to mention when it comes to moral content. Some Ratchet & Clank games can get pretty edgy with their humor, but not really with this one. The reason, I think, is because the game is based on a more child-oriented film. This is a good thing for concerned parents, but can result in some juvenile humor (typically found in clips from the film). There is no swearing either, unlike previous games that have slipped in a couple of words. Obviously, though, the game is very action-packed. Most of the fun comes from demolishing your enemies in crazy ways. All of it is fairly cartoonish, but not to the same degree as games like Disney Infinity. There is also some animated blood and one planet you travel to has a scientist that has you collect brains from creatures. This, too, is not as bad as it sounds, but can still be a bit gross for some younger audiences.

With jaw-dropping graphics and a great voice cast, Ratchet & Clank is definitely one of the best presentations of the current console generation. This is somewhat ironic given how negatively received its film counterpart was. It’s improvements to the series’ old-school gameplay make this remake, for the most part, superior to the original. Though the storytelling is somewhat disappointing, Ratchet & Clank is blast to play for gamers of all ages.

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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