Insomniac Games’ interstellar dynamic duo, Ratchet and Clank, have been saving the galaxy for the past ten years. In celebration of the occasion, Sony has unleashed an HD collection of the first three games in the series, Ratchet & Clank, Going Commando and Up Your Arsenal. All three games were a ton of fun on the Playstation 2 and all three games are still a ton of fun on the Playstation 3 but as a long-time Ratchet fan this HD Collection developed by Idol Minds leaves a lot to be desired in terms of content and presentation.
Upon loading the collection up, everything looks up to snuff. The main menu is bright and colorful, and more importantly, easily navigable to quickly load up any of the three games. But once a game is selected things spiral toward mediocrity real quick.
Cutscenes are presented in 4:3 and while certainly up-resed from the PS2 version, it is not up to the standard of today’s games. In fact it is not even up to the standard set by Sony in their previous HD collections. This lackluster delivery is all the more apparent when the transition from cutscene to actual gameplay happens. It is awkward and lacks polish, something I have never said about an Insomniac developed Ratchet game before. In a word, it is sloppy.
For as sloppy as the presentation of cutscenes is though, Idol Minds handles the HDification of the gameplay admirably. While not on par with the visuals of any of the PS3 iterations in the series, the Ratchet HD Collection looks and runs great. One of Insomniac’s greatest strengths with the series has always been using a wide-ranging color palette and giving every level a distinct look and feel and Idol Minds has showcased that perfectly here.
Likewise, Idol Minds has done a good job of replicating the original gameplay. Unfortunately after four PS3 iterations, the old Ratchet gameplay feels a bit dated. That said, the games still pack a ton of fun due to the Insomniac’s smartly designed platforming levels and the creative arsenal of weapons at Ratchet’s disposal. The HD Collection also boasts online multiplayer support for Up Your Arsenal and while it is nice that the option is there, no one is playing it, making it a feature with no real purpose.
Instead of features that no one is going to utilize, it would have been nice to get a true 10th anniversary celebration of the series. The entire collection just feels bare bones and to be honest a bit cheap. Yes, the games are fun and they come at a justifiable price point but the series and its fans deserved a better treatment. The worst part about the collection being delivered as such though is that it feels woefully incomplete. While it may sound like nit-picking, there were four Ratchet games on the PS2 developed by Insomniac and it seems odd that this collection, being heralded as a 10th anniversary celebration, excludes the fourth game in the series, Deadlocked. I suppose Sony had to hold onto something to release in the inevitable Ratchet & Clank Collection Volume 2 that will undoubtedly include the ports of the Playstation Portable games.
As a longtime Ratchet fan I feel extremely let down by this collection. Still it delivers on its title. It collects three great, arguably classic, Ratchet & Clank games in high definition. The games are still as fun as they ever were, offering up some of the best platforming and shooting from the PS2 era. And hopefully this collection will entice new players to try out the series, regardless of however barebones it may be.