For better or worse, the current generation of consoles has been rife with remastered editions of last-gen hits. A good chunk of the top-rated PlayStation 4 and Xbox One games are, more or less, shinier versions of PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 games.
But don’t lump “Ratchet & Clank,” the latest release in the series of the same name, in with those titles. This is a full-bore remake, from the ground up, of the 2002 PlayStation 2 original that spawned its own empire of games and, at the end of April, its own feature film. Wisely, the series’ evolutions over the past 14 years also made their way into the new edition.
The new “Ratchet” captures fun in a bottle and lets its world sparkle. The bulk of the 12-hour campaign puts an armory of zany weapons in the heroes’ hands, allowing for all sorts of cartoonish mayhem in dispatching the alien and robotic minions of the maniacal Chairman Drek.
There’s no wrong way to play. It’s easy to find a favorite weapon — the classic Groovitron shoots a disco ball that makes enemies harmlessly dance, making them ripe for bashing with your wrench. But “Ratchet” rewards experimentation by using multiple weapons concurrently.
Each weapon levels up as it is used, hitting its maximum and receiving a new name at Level 5. The system further motivates players to check out the other, varied weapons available to level them up as well. On top of that, each weapon can be upgraded in a honeycomb-styled skill tree. It’s a deep, yet simple, system that takes almost no time.
Another passive upgrade system comes in the form of collectible cards, which can be found in hiding spots or acquired at random from dispatching enemies. Forming sets of three similar cards buffs, for example, how many bolts (currency) enemies drop when subdued. Again, this doesn’t take much time away from actually playing the game.
All the better, given the kinetic skirmishes that Ratchet and Clank encounter in their journey that retains a similar framework to the 2002 original — with some twists. These sequences are gorgeous and smooth, which is impressive given the amount of on-screen chaos.
Intermittently mixed in are starship battles, rail-grinding, hoverboard races, puzzles and chase sequences. Some work better than others, but on the whole it’s a nice diversion to break up the monotony of baddies of similar types.
While its replay value is questionable, there’s no denying that “Ratchet & Clank” maximizes the time spent with it by simply being a humorous, fun alternative to its super-serious action peers.
“Ratchet & Clank,” published by Sony Interactive Entertainment and developed by Insomniac Games, is out April 12 for PlayStation 4. $39.99