If you weren’t already aware, there’s a very big difference between a remake and a remaster. The latter is simply a retouched and lightly upgraded version of an older game, while a remake is a reconstruction of the original concept, built from scratch for a new platform (or set of platforms). As you might expect, this requires a lot more time and resources and it’s also prone to controversy and dissent, as evidenced by the blowup concerning the Final Fantasy VII Remake. Thing is, when developers remake a classic, they need to update absolutely everything and in some cases, they believe this should also include a gameplay overhaul.
But you know, I seriously doubt you have to worry about the Ratchet & Clank remake for PlayStation 4. First and foremost, Insomniac Games is one of the premier designers in the industry, and on top of that, they’re certainly not interested in dramatically altering that awesome action/platforming gameplay. They will implement modernized controls and expand greatly upon the initial concept, of course, but it will indeed be good ol’ R&C through and through. If you’re unfamiliar with the iconic IP, the franchise tells the story of the feisty Lombax Ratchet and his wisecracking robo sidekick Clank. Known for its fantastic sense of humor, the franchise’s cheerful, almost whimsical presentation is just wildly attractive. You can’t help but smile when playing a Ratchet and Clank.
In addition to the sharp wit and comical yet oddly involving narrative, there’s a wonderfully appointed environment. Dubbed simply The Metropolis, it’s a sprawling, colorful, futuristic city that’s just begging to be explored. Ratchet has plenty of tools and gizmos at his immediate disposal, which makes traversing this high-tech landscape a fluid and ceaselessly invigorating joy. The lighthearted nature of the backdrop and even the enemies you must face make the game a family-friendly romp, but one specifically designed to cater to the kid in all of us. As for the visual upgrade, all the footage we’ve seen thus far is incredible; it really reminds you of a Pixar movie brought to life. And speaking of movies, this remake will arrive just a few weeks before the new animated “Ratchet & Clank” film, scheduled to release at the end of April.
Anyway, getting back to the graphical upgrade, Insomniac is on record saying they never wanted to simply “up-res” the original 2002 PS2 title. They wanted to produce a remake that retained all the necessary elements of the original but also delivered “modern controls, several new planets, new and updated gameplay segments, all-new Clank gameplay, all-new boss fights, new flight sequences, and more.” And given the power of the PS4, the team should really make everything shine. In brief, Insomniac is prepping a proper remake; a game that just about every single fan will adore, and a game that might even appeal to a younger audience who never had the pleasure of the original. This is how you go about such a project; this is how you simultaneously cater to established fans and newcomers alike. Taking notes, Square Enix?
One thing for which Insomniac is so well known is their imaginative weaponry. I still say the Resistance FPS franchise had by far the most creative and impressive assortment of weapons of any shooter series in existence. Perhaps it’s no surprise, as the out-of-this-world weapons on display in Ratchet & Clank are unparalleled. Better yet, Insomniac says the “majority” of the firearms featured in the remake will be brand new; they’ll act as excellent complements to the returning fan favorites. One of these new weapons is called the Pixelizer, which zaps enemies and turns them into a mound of 8-bit-like pixels. Once transformed, those bits can be knocked over and scattered, thus causing the demise of the foe. Toss in fun returning guns like the Groovitron and we’re good to go.
Lastly, if you pre-order, you’ll earn a special bonus: The Bouncer. This weapon first appeared in the second franchise entry, Going Commando, and it launches a bomb that then releases a bunch of tiny homing bombs that hone in on targets. It’s widely regarded as one of the better weapons in the series, so you’ll definitely want to put down a deposit. During this year’s PlayStation Experience, Sony confirmed that the anticipated Ratchet and Clank remake for PS4 is launching on April 12, which means you’ll have over three weeks to finish off Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End (launching on March 18). The PS4 exclusives are definitely gonna kick ass in 2016 and yeah, I’d say ardent Ratchet followers are almost guaranteed to love the re-imagining.
12/14/2015 Ben Dutka