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Pop CultureApril 28, 2016

Ratchet and Clank feels like going home


After 14 years, Ratchet and Clank are back! Don Rowe delves deep into Ratchet and Clank 2016 to see how, after all this time, the game stacks up.

Amoeboids! O’ green bastards, chlorophyllic Matryoshka’s of slime! Knock one down and two take its place, shambling and leering and grasping. From all angles they slither, loitering in the alleyways of Blackwater City like lumbering chavs, harried only by small patrols of Extermibots. I’ve hated Amoeboids for 14 years, and today I took action.

If revenge is truly best served cold, then good, mine was borderline petrified – and all the better for it. This year’s Ratchet and Clank remake hits every note.

Everybody’s favorite Lombax is back with his robot bro Clank in tow. Remastered, reworked and re-upped, the galaxy remains the psychedelic technicolour wonderland it always was, a place of boorish heroes, hideous villains and extravagant futurism – something like Monsters Inc meets Star Wars on LSD.

Speaking of Monsters Inc, Ratchet and Clank’s Pixar-esque, tongue-in-cheek script has always been a foundation of the series. Rightly so, too; a gameworld so bizarre merits a cast of appropriately ridiculous characters, and this iteration is no exception. Captain Qwark, a Jonny Bravo-cum-Zapp Branigan, more chin than man sort of guy, returns as narrator, while the nefarious Chairman Drekk is as malicious as ever as the games central villain.

The story remains almost identical to the 2002 original, but the graphics and gameplay have been updated for a spoiled palate raised on 780p and hot butter framerates – bare minimums for the youth of today.

True to form, Ratchet and Clank is bursting with outrageous (and customisable!) weaponry and gadgets, each more insane than the last. The Groovenator, halfway between discoball and handgrenade, creates an irresistible disco scene complete with funky lighting, compelling anyone caught within it’s aura to groove – it’s essentially the most promising blueprint for solving the crisis in the Middle East I’ve ever seen, and particularly impressive considering they’ve created dancing animations for everything from robot dog through to space dragon. Mr Zurkon, a purchasable bodyguard, is a tiny flying robot with a jet-rocket ass and a bit of a fucken attitude, to tell the truth. Enough said about him. The Sheepinator turns enemies into a sheep: “Use the Sheepinator on a sheep for the ultimate bovine paradox!”

It’s the sort of hyperviolence you’d feel comfortable exposing a child to – good thing too because, though tangential, Ratchet and Clank are headed for the big screen this month, perhaps breaking the longstanding tradition of video game movies eating ass professionally from the opening credits.

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On topic, Ratchet and Clank is a prime example of how to create a good, smash ’em up shooting game without plonking players in the middle of complex geopolitical situations and ordering them to just kill anything that isn’t American. It’s a reminder that games can be fun without turning into Arabic misbehavior response simulations. It’s a return to innocence circa 2002, with all the bells and whistles and super-computation of 2016.

This year’s Ratchet and Clank is like a breath of good evening air, lush with gentle notes of wood smoke and recently mown lawn. It’s like watching Zoolander and realising it’s still pretty funny, or eating Fairy Bread and finding it somewhat palatable. Ratchet and Clank is like going home.

This post, like all of our gaming content, is brought to you by Bigpipe, the only ISP fit to be a galactic ranger. Thanks, Bigpipe! Thankspipe!

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