If the well of original PlayStation Vita content is drying up, then its fountain of high-definition re-releases is overflowing. The Ratchet & Clank Trilogy is the latest in a long line of PlayStation 2 compilations to nonchalantly sidle onto Sony’s struggling handheld system, following closely in the slipstream of the God of War Collection and The Sly Collection. Sadly, the quality of these so-called remasters has been mixed at best – but does this particular port come with Gadgetron’s coveted seal of approval?
Well, it’s certainly not a clanger of Captain Qwark-sized proportions, but it still has its share of interplanetary problems. Fortunately, these issues are largely specific to the quality of the conversions on offer here, as the games themselves are a hoot. For those out of the loop, you play as Ratchet, a loveable Lombax with a particular penchant for gallantly saving the galaxy. Accompanied by his robotic companion Clank, you must use a combination of acrobatics and combat to off various intergalactic adversaries.
This compilation includes three equally innuendo-heavy titles: Ratchet & Clank, Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando, and Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal. All three build upon the same blueprints, though the latter two releases are much more ambitious than developer Insomniac Games’ inaugural PlayStation 2 outing. While the first foray focuses firmly on the run and gun action, the newer outings layer light role-playing mechanics on top to excellent effect; there’s little more satisfying than fighting with an overpowered assault rifle.
Of course, this series’ real appeal is its outlandish roster of weird and wonderful weaponry, and you’ll happen upon a few deadly doozies during the course of all three campaigns. From the particularly potent Suck Cannon to the sheer silliness of the Sheepinator, you’ll fast find a firearm that makes you laugh. The old-school weapon wheel allows you to cycle between eccentric armaments at will, too, so you won’t ever need to pick and choose between the projectiles that you want to use.
And that’s handy because all three releases are riotous at their tamest and downright ridiculous at their most brash. The addition of strafing really makes the gunplay sing in the later entries, but this mechanic is curiously mapped to the rear touchpad which makes it a little more awkward to use than it should be. At the very least the framerate holds up well across all three titles, though describing this as a ‘high-definition’ remaster is stretching things a little – aliasing issues and murky textures prevent them all from reaching their potential.
Nevertheless, the big problem is that the first game is borderline broken. This franchise has always favoured fighting ahead of precision platforming, but obnoxious input lag means that you’ll be staring at several fail screens the second that you reach a series of perfectly placed podiums. It’s possible to get through the game despite the appearance of these ugly issues, but you’re going to need a fairly high frustration threshold if you intend to do so without desperately attempting to flush your format down the toilet.
Considering that the other two titles play perfectly well, it’s a bit of a bizarre oversight that lessens the appeal of the overall package. And that’s a real shame, because there’s some great stuff here; from the classy putdowns of chief executive Chairman Drek to the spoof detective drama Secret Agent Clank, the developer’s propensity to poke fun at popular culture is pretty much unparalleled anywhere else. Sure, the cartoon tomfoolery can grate a little at times, but the studio maintains a pretty high standard of humour throughout the course of this 40-hour compilation.
The Ratchet & Clank Trilogy is a real hoot, but the outrageous input lag in the first title isn’t a particularly funny joke. There’s dozens of hours of great gaming here, but the aforementioned issues mean that you’re going to want to focus on the two newer titles in this collection. Fortunately, the infusion of role-playing mechanics make these later releases the more entertaining adventures anyway – though the rear touchpad strafing and somewhat subpar visuals suggest that you’re better off enjoying them on the PlayStation 3.