Ratchet & Clank HD trilogy PS3 review
Tinkering with beloved franchises rarely works. Witness adding a big-arse CG beak to the Sarlacc, rebranding Opal Fruits as Starburst or slapping guffing guns into a Sonic game. Recent PS2 HD upgrades have struggled, too. Both the Jak and DMC trilogies might have made their textures shinier on PS3, but their bare-bones mechanics wheezed when hauled forward into 2012. Thankfully, the action in our loveable Lombax’s games matches his furry facelift.
Slap a semi-working pair of eyeholes on the retrofit developer Idol Minds has performed on Insomniac’s lauded action platformers and you quickly see it trumps even Bluepoint Games’ stellar work on the impressive MGS collection. With a rich, beaming palette and a deliberately chunky cartoon vibe, each game looks sexily stylised rather than shabbily retro. Compared to the shoddy visual upgrades seen in Silent Hill HD, our space rodent looks as good as Mila Kunis in a Borat mankini.
The original’s decade-old gameplay is still strong like a gallon of Auchtermuchty’s finest single malt, too. Placing it next to 2009’s excellent A Crack In Time, it’s amazing how little Insomniac fundamentally changed from the 2002 classic. Alright, so the older title doesn’t boast the freedom of the open spaceship sections or the cerebrum-scratching, time-bending Clank puzzles, but the core of the experience remains. That means horribly moreish hoovering of bolts (used to buy new weapons), unearthing new gadgets with which to explore exotic planets and forcing foes to bust out a boogie with a disco ball of doom.
While Ratchet’s first adventure combines crisply satisfying jumpy bits with hectic shooting, you get the sense Insomniac never knew quite which element should take precedence. In contrast, sequel Locked & Loaded is much more focused. Introducing much-needed strafing, it immediately makes unloading the variety of outrageous guns far more fluid. Full of arena battles, you quickly begin to feel like the hoppy version of Yoda from Episode II as you somersault away from enemies. Although, saying that, I’d rather face an armada of ankle-biting alien squid thana hacked-off Christopher Lee.
Up Your Arsenal (the shooty kind, don’t sweat it Monsieur Wenger) then goes on to lose its faeces in the best possible way. Bolstering the core combat with more variety, it brings in skydiving shoot-outs, 2D platforming levels with the ace Captain Quark and sections that turn Clank into an iron giant. All this, and the HD version even includes online deathmatches and capture the flag bouts – something all but the 17 folk who had a PS2 network adaptor missed out on the first time around.
Really, there’s little here to moan over. Yes, it’s a pity Idol Minds couldn’t have spruced up the cut-scenes, which are rendered in SD crum-o-vision, and each title also misses the expansiveness and variety of A Crack In Time. C’mon, though. When you’ve got a series that lets you transform foes into sheep and demands you save tourists from feral intergalactic squirrels, whinging over resolutions seems smaller than its dinky droid sidekick.