Of the games crying out for a reboot, Insomniac Games’ Ratchet and Clank may be among the quietest. The heroic duo’s first adventure landed back in 2002, but with 11 sequels and spin-offs to keep fans entertained, can a return to the series' genesis offer anything more than a high definition Blargian Snagglebeast? The answer is a resounding ‘yes’.
Via flashback from the comedic Captain Qwark, Ratchet and Clank's HD reimagining tells the same origin story as its early noughties counterpart, outlining how Lombax and robot became both best pals and galactic saviours. As such, the plot, missions and locations remain very familiar (if you discount the much-improved visuals). However, there’s plenty that’s new too – particularly in the weapons department. While the omni-wrench remains the staple of our hero’s extensive arsenal, new additions such as the Proton Drum (a silver ball that pulses pink lasers in expanding circles) and the Pixelizer (turns enemies into pixels) will have you giggling stupidly in satisfaction.
Whole swathes of this 3D platformer could be games in their own right and you’ll have great difficulty not getting sucked in to the ‘optional’ Hover Boot championship (imagine MarioKart with a nitrous injection) or exploring the grindrail maze on the snow swept hills of planet Batalia. One of the most notable additions this time around is the new upgrade system that requires the collection of ‘holo cards’ to access certain weapon improvements or increase the chances of finding useful materials for missions.
Gameplay here is far more responsive than its predecessor, with less assisted targeting, a slower-recovering Ratchet and more intelligent opponents. But it’s not a perfect product. Some lazy video repetitions and occasionally laborious challenges reveal cracks in an otherwise porcelain surface, and despite its brilliance, you may still wonder whether this release was entirely necessary. In all likelihood, however, you'll be having far too much fun to care. If this was a straight remake with updated graphics, it would still be worth a look, but with all the extra TLC Insomniac have given it, this becomes Ratchet and Clank's greatest hits compilation and a nostalgic triumph.