Ratchet & Clank Review

A gaming great is reborn on PlayStation 4

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4.3

Ratchet & Clank

Ratchet & Clank
Lifewire / Andrew Hayward

What We Like

  • Creative, inventive weapons

  • Cartoonish combat acceptable for kids

  • Charming characters and worlds

  • Fabulous graphics

  • It’s a steal for the price

What We Don't Like

  • Cinematics are a bit dull

  • Smaller than original game

Ratchet & Clank is a blast, feeling as fresh and fun today as the original version was back in 2002.

4.3

Ratchet & Clank

Ratchet & Clank
Lifewire / Andrew Hayward

Remastered video games have become immensely popular over the last few years, as publishers mine their libraries for older favorites to modernize and re-release today. Some of these games are simply boosted up to a higher, crisper resolution to look less jagged or fuzzy, while others keep the core game design while delivering completely rebuilt graphics.

Ratchet & Clank is something different, however. It keeps the name and a lot of what was great about Insomniac Games’ classic 2002 PlayStation 2 original—such as the colorful worlds and wacky, out-there weapon design—but is essentially a new adventure inspired by that game rather than a slavish recreation. Fans might recall familiar moments, but everything has been given a fantastic new coat of paint along with modern tweaks. It’s streamlined too, making this kid-friendly PlayStation 4 action game an ideal jumping-on point for anyone.

Ratchet & Clank
Lifewire / Andrew Hayward

Plot: Sci-fi, but silly

Ratchet and Clank are the dual heroes of the game: the former, a fuzzy “lombax” creature, is a mechanic who swings a giant wrench and dreams of being a Galactic Ranger. Clank, on the other hand, is a brainy robot who discovers plans by the evil Chairman Alonzo Drek to destroy planets to harvest their resources to create a new one for his own race. Clank manages to escape Drek and fortuitously meets Ratchet after crash-landing on the planet of Veldin, and the two team up to try and stop Drek’s evil plan.

The Pixelizer is like an energy-based shotgun that turns the beautifully-rendered 3D characters into clumps of retro-stylized pixels, and the Sheepinator… well, the Sheepinator turns enemies into cuddly, harmless sheep.

The dimwitted, self-aggrandizing Captain Qwark—himself a green spandex-adorned Galactic Ranger—also features prominently in the tale. He serves the role of narrator, with funny quips that sometimes help point you in the right direction, and also adds a bit of hilarious mystery to the adventure as he’s retelling the story of how he ended up in prison.

Ratchet & Clank
Lifewire / Andrew Hayward

Gameplay: Pew pew, but more too

Most of Ratchet & Clank takes the form of an action-platform game, with a mix of wrench-swinging and gun-blasting combat, plus a fair bit of exploration and leaping around hazards and obstacles. Over the course of the single-player campaign, you will primarily control Ratchet as you navigate between various planets to complete primary quests and optional sub-missions.

Most of Ratchet & Clank takes the form of an action-platform game, with a mix of wrench-swinging and gun-blasting combat, plus a fair bit of exploration and leaping around hazards and obstacles.

Ratchet is nimble, but also well-armed. In addition to the wrench, which can be both swung and thrown like a boomerang, he’ll assemble a growing arsenal of weapons throughout the affair. Luckily, all of them are entirely cartoonish, and there’s no reason for parents to be wary of realistic or graphic violence here. Early on, weapons like the energy-blasting Combuster and flamethrower-esque Pyrocitor are pretty straightforward, but the real fun comes quickly.

Eventually, you’ll unlock much more novel and creative weapons such as the Groovitron, a throwable disco ball that causes all nearby enemies to stop fighting and start dancing. That makes them easy prey for your other attacks. Mr. Zurkon, on the other hand, is a hovering robotic assistant of doom who follows alongside you and blasts all nearby enemies, all while tossing out macho zingers about his battle supremacy. It’s hilarious.

Elsewhere, the Pixelizer is like an energy-based shotgun that turns the beautifully-rendered 3D characters into clumps of retro-stylized pixels, and the Sheepinator… well, the Sheepinator turns enemies into cuddly, harmless sheep. The Ratchet & Clank series has always had some of the most creative and entertaining weapon design in all of gaming, and this is like a greatest hits package with a couple of new additions in the mix. It’s also refreshing to play a game that features powerful, effective guns that aren’t gratuitously violent. Every weapon can also be gradually upgraded over the course of the game, and even transformed into a much more powerful version once fully enhanced.

At times, however, you’ll take control of Clank instead of Ratchet. Clank’s missions are much different in feel and flow, taking on a lightweight puzzle-solving tone as you utilize drone robots to create bridges or jump pads, or trigger switches that open doors. They’re not particularly complex, but it offers a nice little respite from all of the frenzied blasting of Ratchet’s missions. That said, the blasting really is the most exciting part of the game, thanks not only to the amusing weapons but also the wide array and large numbers of enemies you’ll face.

This new version of Ratchet & Clank has been trimmed down from the original PS2 incarnation to make for a tighter, more streamlined adventure with much higher production values.

Variety is a key theme throughout Ratchet & Clank, as the game rarely sticks with one mission or level type for long. You might compete in a hoverboard race or ride along grind rails; there are also boss battles, spaceship flight sequences, puzzle mini-games, and a thrilling train mission too. This new version of Ratchet & Clank has been trimmed down from the original PS2 incarnation to make for a tighter, more streamlined adventure with much higher production values. That’s largely a good thing, although old fans might miss some of the trimmed content. It also has a number of hidden items and unlockables to find, for players who want to explore it fully.

Ratchet & Clank
Lifewire / Andrew Hayward

Graphics: Like a CGI movie

Most of Ratchet & Clank is really gorgeous, with an almost Pixar-like quality to the real-time graphics. That’s been a common theme for the series since the PlayStation 3 entries, but it still holds true today. Charming character and world design pairs well with the power of the PlayStation 4 console, delivering colorful and memorable worlds, smooth action and explosive effects, and rarely a dull moment in sight.

The only exception comes with the cinematic cut-scenes, which don’t have quite the same spark as the in-game action. This Ratchet & Clank remake was released alongside a critically-panned CGI movie that shared many of the same visual assets, and part of the film seems to have had a slight undue influence on this part of the game. They’re not bad, really—just dull.

Ratchet & Clank
Lifewire / Andrew Hayward

Kid Appropriate: Nothing realistic

Ratchet & Clank is rated “Everyone 10+” by the ESRB for “Animated Blood” and “Fantasy Violence.” The blood is green, and it explodes from the cartoonish foes in similarly cartoonish fashion—and as mentioned, there’s nothing realistic about the action and violence here. You might abstain from explaining to a young kid why the RYNO weapon is short for “Rip Ya a New One,” however, and what exactly that is supposed to mean.

I didn’t have any problem letting my six-year-old son play around with Ratchet & Clank.

I didn’t have any problem letting my six-year-old son play around with Ratchet & Clank, however. He’s experienced with other cartoonish shooting games such as Splatoon 2 and Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare, and Ratchet & Clank doesn’t feel any more intense than those titles. However, this single-player game can be challenging at times, so it’s best suited for players who are already comfortable with modern 3D games.

Price: It’s a steal now

Ratchet & Clank was worth the original full price of $60, but after three years on the market, it’s now one of Sony’s Greatest Hits titles—so it’s sold for only $20 now. That’s a steal for such a riotously fun, well-designed, and kid-appropriate adventure. It’s roughly a 10-12 hour campaign for skilled players, but younger and more casual players might spend longer, plus there are plenty of extras for completionists to seek out. 

Ratchet & Clank vs. Spyro Reignited Trilogy

Both of these titles bring back classic PlayStation experiences, and both were originally developed by Insomniac Games. The Spyro games are a little bit older—they were released between 1998-2000. The Spyro Reignited Trilogy is also a more exacting experience in terms of maintaining the classic level designs and enemies, however, it swaps in completely new graphics that are quite beautiful.

You get more total gameplay with the Spyro Reignited Trilogy, since it collects three games into a single package. Although they’re simpler and easier games overall, Ratchet & Clank requires a bit more skill and coordination, and I’d argue that it’s a more rewarding and entertaining experience on the whole. Both are great examples of classic games given fresh life in this modern era.

Final Verdict

Ratchets up the fun.

Ratchet & Clank does a fine job of taking an older (but much-loved) gaming experience and giving it the right nips and tucks needed to appeal to a fresh generation. The zany weapons are a blast, the combat is entertaining without being aggressive or overly violent, and the characters and environments are charming. It’s a strong pick both for kids who are already comfortable with action games and players of any age—plus you can’t beat the price.

Specs

  • Product Name Ratchet & Clank
  • Product Brand Sony
  • Price $19.99
  • Release Date April 2016
  • Platforms Sony PlayStation 4
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