Ratchet & Clank

Ratchet & Clank

Ratchet & Clank shows that good game design is timeless. As the first attempt at a hybrid of platformer and shooter, it seems woefully out of date at first. Basic shooter features like strafing and “aiming where the camera is looking” are absent, and the developers have even stated that the game’s primary challenge is using its weapons correctly. This isn’t an ideal situation, of course, but the result is still immensely enjoyable simply because it was designed with these limitations in mind. You’re never asked to perform any combat feats that the shooter controls can’t accommodate, and the platforming controls feel wonderful, so the overall difficulty is able to reach the “tough but fair” target. The level designs assist in this regard as well, and their balance of linearity and openness is greatly appreciated.

Like their previous game, Spyro: Year of the Dragon, the diversity of content Insomniac brought to Ratchet & Clank is incredible. The protagonists’ arsenals may not be as wacky as they become in the sequels, but they’re still full of fun tools like magnetic boots, a robot disguise, a gun that uses small enemies as ammo, and a laser that transforms targets into chickens. The gameplay also regularly deviates from its standard path to offer space fighter sections, hoverboard races, and hacking minigames, all with decent depth for what they are. The expressive animation and voice acting that helped Spyro age gracefully is present here, and supporting it all is a surprisingly unorthodox narrative for a 2002 platformer.

8.5/10
8.5/10

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