A spanner in the works, a wench in the membrane. It’s all good.

The Ratchet & Clank series has possibly brought about the worst elements in my adult psyche. Striking the PS2 when I was a fragile yet just as obsessive compulsive 12 year old, it taught me that the world outside is a grim sight compared to its lush locales. That dark humour surrounding mortality was a strange niche for a kid to appreciate, and that searching every nook and cranny in a bid to hoard anything of value would lead to absolute greatness. Nostalgia has a funny habit of enveloping your memories in a frail platinum musk that’s easy to peel off upon closer inspection years later, and I was hoping a HD revisit to The Ratchet & Clank Trilogy would tear these bad habits and the strange behaviour out of me. It hasn’t, and I’m glad.

Focusing on the origins and the exploits of one adventure hungry Lombax and one genius robot, the dynamic if somewhat unlikely duo strode confidently alongside Jak & Daxter in the Playstation 2’s heyday. Whereas the adventures of the luminous haired hero and loudmouth Ottsel led down darker allies in later years, Ratchet & Clank stuck to one wacky formula and ran with it; Insane weapons + Tight Platforming + A dash of light if morbid humour= Ratchet & Clank, and this blast from the not so distant past is a great reminder of why that very formula never needs changing.

Set across several galaxies in what must be in the Pixar nebula, exploits in each of the three titles take place on multiple planets, each one as lush as the last. Each world comes with multiple objectives and avoid being linear trudges from beginning to end, instead branching out with several different paths. Environments seem to cater perfectly for Ratchet to flaunt his acrobatic and smooth moves along with Clank’s propeller and jet based boosts. No planet feels typecast into ‘Fire-world’ or ‘Water-world’, but rather just feel like parkour playgrounds infested with death. Death that needs a good annihilating.

If Resistance taught us anything, it’s that Insomniac will be the first guys to call should war break out…and we all need a bit of a laugh. Zany weaponry seems to be the studios signature skill, and there must be some fan-fiction in there somewhere with this series acting as some sort of weird prequel. When you’re not skipping merrily through alien worlds, you’re eradicating it’s population in the least respectful manner possible. Sure, you have your conventional pistols and rifles running on plasma, but the real joy comes from the imaginative killing machines.

And they just keep getting wackier. Playing the titles back to back reminds you of the times sequels knew how to deliver. When one chapter closes, moving onto the next delivers tighter controls, and insane weapons just waiting for even more insane upgrades. Each game gets bigger and bigger and starts to introduce RPG elements through progression. As a weapon grows fonder of slaying, it flaunts new attachments to muck around with, until the whole weapon itself transforms into a brand new beast. The bizarre take on the flamethrower that is ‘The Lava Gun’ turns into a meteor firing death trap. The conventional ‘Gravity Bomb’ which is nowhere near as exciting as it sounds mutates into a ‘Mini-Nuke’, demolishing small communities under mushroom clouds. The tinkering that you hear with each nut and bolt collected just gears you up for the next vibrant blueprint available for purchase, an exciting prototype awaiting even zanier evolutions.

A collection that barely feels like it has aged at allRacking up the bolts to earn an arsenal that would rival the army takes time, and completion fanatics will need to work through multiple playthroughs to ensure a fully upgraded maelstrom of ridiculousness. Arsenals get bigger and bigger with each instalment, mega uber bolts encourage mega uber weapons to be born and skill points in each level force you to investigate mini-challenges should you want to stand proud with 100%. Everything kicks off with simply making flashier weapons but soon evolves into pimping out spaceships and uncovering secrets everywhere. Trophy hoarders will certainly have a frenzy digging in each titles darkest corners.

I keep talking about these games like this is a long dead franchise. Those who dive in from the original trilogy will obviously find this HD remake not as detailed as the beautiful PS3 spawn, but the simply lush locales look great without demanding much from the engine, and as such come off great in HD glory. Many of these elements are already used in the ‘Future’ trilogy, and although sense of humour is somewhat relative, I found the original titles funnier than the more recent offerings. One thing that certainly does carry over from every single iteration is charm, and the whole trilogy flaunts it incredibly well, with the wuvly locales marrying the ever dry and dryer comedy annually.

You can immediately tell entering R&C 2 onwards that Insomniac hit a stride in terms of every aspect of the series, but the original certainly isn’t quite as tight in certain aspects as its brethren. The lack of a lock-on feature in the original is exceptionally frustrating as you reach harder battles in more constrained environments. Certainly nothing a careless and frustration fuelled bomb won’t sort out, and makes you thankful for such ‘evolutions’ later on. Some menu screens oddly stretch out and voiceovers feel a little blurred in them, but they’re such pitiful little nit-picks that they will be barely noticeable to the less critical/more human.

R&C3 was the first title to chuck in online multi-player, and my first ever delve into competitive play. Perhaps playing on my lonesome is stuck in my bloodstream, perhaps it was the derogatory comments others made about my mother, but I just didn’t take to multi-player in the ways that I hoped. It offers a solid set of modes and mixes them up with the same stacks of weapons, I was just hoping for the very same flair I encountered when playing alone. It’s a nice little feature to kill some time with, online newbies may even grow to become dedicated players, but it just lacks the depth to become a truly awesome side attraction.

A collection that barely feels like it has aged at all, The Ratchet & Clank Trilogy is a solid and fun package that gives obsessive completionists bang for their buck. If you’ve played any PS3 iterations, this package contains one adventure well worth revisiting and two quests that easily match up if not excel over the PS3 exclusives. If you have a child too socially awkward to enjoy their summer holidays, lock them indoors and educate them into becoming comically gifted uber gamers. As this collection drops in price over the months, so will your excuses not to own it.
The Good: Fantastic sense of humour, Dozens of weapons to collect, Each installment gets bigger and bigger, tight platforming controls, HD does the already impressive graphics justiceThe Bad: Some minor technical issues with R&C 1, Multi-player isn’t a phenomenal detraction

Gameplay: Gameplay - 9 out of 10 9
Graphics:   Graphics - 8 out of 10 8
Sound:      Sound - 8 out of 10 8
Overall:     Overall - 9 out of 10 9

Silver Y AwardSilver Y Award