With the PS2 being home to many great games, it is no surprise that a lot of remakes and remasters are getting released on newer PlayStation consoles with the PlayStation Vita getting its fair share of them. Back in this golden age of gaming, Sony’s first party studios were busy making a trio of outstanding trilogies that all fell into the platform genre. Naughty Dog had replaced Crash Bandicoot with the Jak & Daxter games, Sucker Punch created a stealthy Racoon named Sly Cooper and Insomniac were getting creative with the Ratchet & Clank series.
Last summer Mass Media ported the Jak & Daxter Trilogy to the PlayStation Vita and received a lot of criticism from those that played it, with complaints including poor framerate and awkward controls. Sanzaru Games released the Sly Trilogy on the Vita earlier this year to a more favourable reception, continuing their success after they took over the reins from Sucker Punch on the fourth Sly Cooper game, Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time.
So when the final of the three trilogies, Ratchet & Clank, was announced for the PlayStation Vita with Mass Media confirmed as being in charge of the porting duties, many were worried about how the game would handle on the Vita. Over the last couple of weeks I have spent most of my free time playing through each of the games in the Trilogy and can say that Mass Media have done an excellent job on this collection.
Each of the three games that make up this Trilogy, Ratchet & Clank, Ratchet & Clank 2: Going Commando (or Locked & Loaded for those of us in Europe) and Ratchet & Clank 3: Up Your Arsenal, look beautiful on the PlayStation Vita. Bright colours, brilliant characters and unique worlds all come together to make each of the interplanetary adventures great fun and the weapons aren’t too bad either!
Our Lombax friend starts each of the games with just his trusty ratchet in hand but soon adds a vast array of guns and gadgets to his inventory so that you can dispose of the many enemies in a (often hilarious) number of ways. You will pick up weapons as you make your way through the game, and can buy other weapons and ammo at Gadgetron vending machines that can be found on each of the planets using bolts, the game’s currency. The creative minds at Insomniac have dreamed up an amazing array of weapons and gadgets such as the R.Y.N.O (Rip You a New One) rocket launcher, a swingshot and the brilliant Morph-a-Ray gun which will turn an enemy into a chicken!
The first game in the series, Ratchet & Clank, sees the duo travel across the Solana Galaxy in an attempt to stop Chairman Drek, who is trying to destroy other planets in the galaxy so that he can use the pieces to build a new planet for his people. Each level you play in the game has multiple missions, and these can usually be done in any order that you like. There are planets that you will have to return to as certain missions require you to have a weapon or a gadget that is not yet available, meaning that some backtracking must be done. This may sound like a pain, but taxis, floating pads and warp gates allow for fast travel back to each particular mission area.
Ratchet & Clank 2: Going Commando continues where the first game left off. After defeating Chairman Drek, the dynamic duo rest at Ratchet’s home. Their relaxation time is shortlived when Abercrombie Fizzwidget, CEO of Megacorp, teleports Ratchet and Clank to the Bogon Galaxy to ask for their assistance to help reclaim a protopet which has been stolen by a masked thief. The second instalment adds a few new features to the blasting and platforming, including space battles and an experience point system that allows for weapons to be levelled-up. This sequel takes the excellent gameplay from the first title and adds little tweaks that improve the overall experience. The only criticism I have of this game is that the space battles felt like they were tacked on and I felt that they were an unnecessary addition as they didn’t add any extra value or enjoyment to the game.
The brilliantly titled third game, Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal, is very similar to the previous game, which is no bad thing! The plot for this game sees the evil Dr. Nefarious lead an alien race called the Tyrhannoids in an attempt to destroy all life in the Solana Galaxy. The one thing that is missing from the original PlayStation 2 release is the game’s multiplayer mode. This would have been a great addition to what is already an excellent collection – with the original version featuring Capture the Flag and Team Deathmatch modes.
The Ratchet & Clank Trilogy is great fun to play and the controls are excellent. Trying to use the first-person aiming feature can be quite tricky and slow at times, but the second and third games allow strafing from the start which makes life a whole lot easier when dealing out the damage. The platforming is excellent, and selecting a weapon or gadget to use is as simple as pressing Triangle to select a weapon and Circle to use your item of choice.
Aside from the cutscenes, which are not full screen or of a high resolution, the Trilogy looks stunning on the PlayStation Vita. The audio does have the occasional hiccup where the background music can drop out for a short while, but this rectifies itself and is not a common occurrence. The only other thing that I noticed is that the first game has trouble hiding the suck cannon and oxygen meters. This appears to be more of an oversight than a bug, as the screen ratio in the original PS2 version was 4:3, meaning the meters would have moved out of shot. With the PS Vita version displayed in widescreen, the meters no longer move all the way out of view and remain partially hidden.
These minor niggles aside, the Ratchet & Clank Trilogy is a great collection and an excellent addition the Vita’s library. With each game offering hours of fun, the collection is great value for money and I highly recommend giving these classics a play on the PlayStation Vita.