E3 2015: Ratchet & Clank is Beautiful and Familiar

With the Ratchet & Clank feature length film in the works, developer Insomniac saw fit to recreate the original Ratchet & Clank game with elements from the upcoming movie. The result is essentially the same game with a heavy visual makeover. In my hands-on time with Ratchet & Clank for the PlayStation 4, I found it felt most like the Ratchet & Clank Future games on the PlayStation 3. The formula has never really changed with this series, but then, it seems, neither has its fan-base. The latest R&C game is looking to be full of the same explosive, destructive fun as its predecessors were.

There were two playable levels in this demo: Aleero City and Nebula 634. It has to be said: Aleero City is gorgeous in person. If the visuals of the new Ratchet & Clank game lose out to a feature animated film’s, they can make up for it through the level of detail and density. Ratchet himself has wonderfully rendered fur with a satisfying amount of follicles, many things are shiny, and Aleero City looks large and very populated. The game was running at 1080p and mostly keeping up at 30 frames-per-second. At times, the frame-rate would dip but this was still a pre-release build of the game. The one visual upgrade that did not help, though, was the excessive motion blur; there is nothing like seeing nothing at all until you stop moving the camera. Shooting and jumping remains exactly the same, jump twice and them descend slowly if you hold X, crouch-jump for some height, strafe left and right or jump as you shoot, all while running at a moderately slow pace. The beautiful destruction made possible by this visual upgrade was apparent in the explosions and physically pleasant falling debris and machine parts in the Aleero City level, as I blew large cylinders out of my way that tumbled individually and believably. Meanwhile, the other level Nebula 634 was primarily cutscenes and a new boss fight with a giant lava beast. The beast was a physical fighter who rolled and tackled at me, sometimes disappearing to summon minions. He was easy enough to dodge and attack, and was not invulnerable to the Groovitron, a familiar grenade from the R&C Future series that makes enemies dance in its blast radius

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Speaking of weapons, fans will be happy to know Mr. Zurkon, a murderous companion robot you can throw out, is back with some amusing new lines. There was also a shotgun called The Pixelator, which literally pixelates the things it hits, including destructible crates and certain parts of the environment. The demo also included the familiar Combuster pistol, Fusion Grenades and a Predator missile launcher. This latest Ratchet & Clank will be for the most part the same game as the original. With the fantastic visuals, and welcome additions to the arsenal and the game content, series fans will like what they get here and newcomers will get a taste of the best the series has to offer. That said, people who did not enjoy the R&C Future series will likely have little reason to try this out, it hasn’t changed. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and Ratchet & Clank apparently still ain’t broke.