Ratchet & Clank (2002 video game)
|Ratchet & Clank|
North American PlayStation 2 box art
Idol Minds (HD edition)
Mass Media (Vita port)
|Publisher(s)||Sony Computer Entertainment|
|Series||Ratchet & Clank|
Ratchet & Clank is a 2002 3D platform video game developed by Insomniac Games and published by Sony Computer Entertainment for the PlayStation 2. Ratchet & Clank is the first game in the Ratchet & Clank series and precedes Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando.
The game follows the anthropomorphic character Ratchet meeting the robot Clank on his home planet. Clank discovers that the villainous Chairman Drek of the Blarg race plans to create a new planet for his species, destroying other planets in the process. Clank convinces Ratchet to help him in his mission to gain the help of the famous superhero Captain Qwark.
The game offers a wide range of weapons and gadgets that the player must use to defeat numerous enemies and solve puzzles on a variety of different planets in the fictional "Solana" galaxy. The game also includes several mini-games, such as racing or hacking, which the player must complete to proceed. The game was positively received by critics, who praised the graphics and variety of gameplay, along with the comic and humorous style to the sci-fi story.
In Ratchet & Clank, the main playable character is Ratchet, whom the player controls from a third-person perspective, though a first person mode to view the player's surroundings is available. The player traverses diverse environments with a large collection of unusual gadgets and weapons, using them to defeat enemies and pass obstacles. Up to 36 weapons and gadgets can be bought or found in the game.
The player begins the game with only two weapons: the "OmniWrench 8000", a standard melee weapon with a variety of uses such as interacting with puzzles in the environment, and the Bomb Glove, a short-range grenade thrower. As missions are completed across the game's various planets, more weapons and gadgets become available, including the Blaster, an automatic pistol; the Pyrocitor, a flamethrower; and the Suck Cannon, a vacuum gun, which sucks up smaller enemies and converts them into projectiles. Weapons are either found, or can be bought with bolts, the game's form of currency. The OmniWrench remains the standard melee weapon for close combat, with its own button, as all other weapons assume the role of weaponry and can only be equipped one at a time, though all weapons can be carried in the player's inventory.
Bolts can be found in crates, along with ammo, or dropped from defeated enemies. The player also needs to buy ammo for most weapons, but a small number can function without the need for ammo. Vendors, which sell weapons and ammo, are situated at strategic points throughout levels. After completing the game, the player may choose to enter "challenge mode", in which the game's difficulty level rises considerably, but all bolts and weapons acquired the first time are carried through. There is also the option to buy "gold weapons", more powerful versions of existing weapons. The game's health system, Nanotech, starts at four health bubbles equivalent to be able to take four hits, but upgrades can be purchased, giving the player a total of eight hit points.
Normally, Clank rides on Ratchet's back, acting as a jet-pack or similar device. Occasionally, however, Clank becomes a playable character when Ratchet is unable to explore certain areas. Clank can control "Gadgebots", smaller robots similar to Clank, who perform certain actions for him. Racing, in the form of hoverboard races, appears in the game. Some racing missions are necessary to progress in the game, while others are optional. One level of space combat and a level of flying through the air shooting tankers is also present. Mini-games to unlock doors, extend bridges, or elevate platforms appear in most levels.
On the desert planet Veldin, Ratchet, a Lombax (a cat-like alien) is working on a ship. On another planet, a machine creating an army of robots malfunctions and creates a miniature-sized robot, Clank. Clank finds an infobot nearby and it shows him something on its screen while a sentry bot watches nearby. Horrified by its contents, Clank grabs the infobot and escapes from the factory in a nearby ship, only to have enemy ships pursue him into outer space. One shoots down Clank's ship, causing his vessel to plummet toward Veldin. Ratchet investigates the crash site and finds Clank. They begin to form a unique bond and agree to stop the Blargian Chairman Drek, who is devising a plan to extract large portions of other planets in the galaxy and assemble them into an ideal planet for his race, the Blarg, to inhabit as their original home Orxon has become over-polluted.
Clank suggests they locate a famous hero named Captain Qwark to aid them. Ratchet leaves his home planet Veldin with Clank and crash-lands on planet Novalis, which is under attack by Drek's army. After getting another ship, they travel to several planets in search of Qwark. They find him inside his trailer on planet Rilgar, and he agrees to stop Drek on one condition—that Ratchet and Clank survive a deadly obstacle course on the planet Umbris. Once the duo successfully passes the course, Qwark reveals he is Drek's spokesperson and he cannot have Ratchet and Clank stand in the way of the lucrative sponsorship deal, trapping them in a pit and leaving them to deal with a Blargian Snagglebeast. Following this deception, Ratchet is more concerned with getting revenge against Qwark than stopping Drek's plan, which Clank finds morally reprehensible. For a time, they constantly argue over what is more important, but Ratchet eventually puts aside his pride after they defeat Qwark and focuses on stopping Drek.
After exploring more planets and destroying a planetbuster missile Drek had been initially planning to use on a planet taking up the ideal orbit he wanted to use for the new Blarg homeworld, the duo discover that Drek has created a planet-destroying laser called the Deplanetizer, and that the planet he was aiming to destroy was Veldin. Ratchet and Clank arrive on Veldin to stop him, and during the confrontation, Drek reveals his true intentions: a money-making real estate scheme that involves polluting the new planet, forcing the Blarg to relocate and repeating the whole process. After the battle, Drek gets shot towards his newly created planet, causing a crash that kills him. Ratchet activates the Deplanetizer, destroying the planet. The planetary fragments raining on Veldin knock both Clank and Ratchet off the platform, but Clank grabs a ledge in an attempt to save them both, injuring his arm in the process. He is unable to pull himself and Ratchet up to safety, but manages to break their fall using his thruster-pack. Although the initial purpose of their partnership is done, Ratchet takes Clank home with him to fix his arm. The post-credits scene features Ratchet and Clank in Ratchet's garage, watching a commercial featuring Qwark and a new product named the Personal Hygienator.
Development and release
After finishing work on the Spyro the Dragon series, Insomniac originally intended to launch a game codenamed I5 (Insomniac game #5) for the PlayStation 2. The developers, however, were never enthusiastic about it, and the idea was dropped after six months. Ratchet & Clank was based on an idea by Brian Hastings, which would feature a space-traveling reptile alien who would collect various weapons as he progressed through the game; Ratchet's final form was decided upon after Insomniac considered a space lizard with a tail and various terrestrial creatures, including dogs and rats; feline features stood out to the developers because of the associated sense of agility. Another early idea was to have a number of small robots attached to Ratchet, which would perform different functions. However, Insomniac realized that having the three robots was both complicated and created confusion about Ratchet's appearance, leading them to have only one robot, Clank. Very little was cut for the final product, apart from a few weapons and gadgets that "just weren't fun".
Shortly after changing the game from I5 to Ratchet & Clank, Naughty Dog asked Insomniac if they would be interested in sharing the game technology used in Naughty Dog's Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy, asking that Insomniac in turn share with them any improvements that were made. Insomniac agreed, resulting in most of the Ratchet & Clank engine technology being developed in-house by Insomniac, but some very important renderers were those developed by Naughty Dog. Looking back on the agreement, Ted Price said that "Naughty Dog's generosity gave us a huge leg up and allowed us to draw the enormous vistas in the game." Some years later, Ted Price clarified Insomniac's stance on engine technology while obliquely mentioning the shared renderers:
"We've always developed all our own technology. It's been a little frustrating in the past for us to hear people say, 'Oh yeah, the Insomniac game is running on the Naughty Dog engine.' People assumed that we were using Naughty Dog's engine for Ratchet, and that was not true. We shared some technology with Naughty Dog way back when, and that was great, but we are a company that puts stock in developing specialized technology and we will continue to do so." -- Ted Price, Independent PlayStation Magazine, September 2006
Pre-production of the game began in late March 2001, with a team of approximately 35 people. The game went into production in November 2001, and by the end of the project, the team had grown to 45. The game was first released in North America on November 4, 2002, and then in Australia on November 6, 2002. It was later released in PAL regions on November 8, 2002, and in Japan on December 3, 2002. In November 2003, Sony added Ratchet & Clank to their Greatest hits series of games for the PlayStation 2 when Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando was released at that time, and the game was similarly added to Sony's Platinum Range used in the PAL region on August 22, 2003. The game was added to Japan's The Best range on July 3, 2003; it was also the only game to be bundled with the PlayStation 2 in Japan.
Ratchet & Clank was met with positive reviews from critics upon release. After playing a preview of the game, GameSpot described it as having "excellent graphics, varied gameplay, and tight control[s]". The game's use of weapons, rather than simple melee attacks, was cited as one of the main features that made it stand out from other platform games; Computer and Video Games said that "Going berserk with your giant ratchet [...] is seriously satisfying [...] Every time you thump an enemy with the hefty tool, it looks, sounds and feels remarkably solid. [...] What's more, the same can be said for all the other weapons you collect and use over the course of your intergalactic adventure". GameSpot noted that the player does not need to follow the same paths multiple times, as was common in platformers at the time. Gameplanet said that it was "Quite simply the best platform game on the PS2 right now and possibly the best on any format!"
Reviewers praised the game's graphics, specifically pointing out the character and background designs as being high-quality for PS2 games of the time. GameSpy called the graphics "mind-blowing", and GameSpot praised the game's smooth frame rate. GameZone noted the animation of Ratchet, praising the details in his animation. Reviewers found that the game's voice overs and other audio elements were generally well-done. IGN commented on the game's artificial intelligence, saying that it was not as well-done as that of Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy, but still "purposefully comic and somewhat sophisticated" in others. Gameplanet felt that the game's levels were well laid-out.
Criticism was aimed at the game's camera angles, which Eurogamer felt were "idiotic" at times, giving the example of boss fights in which the camera centers on the boss rather than being freely movable. Allgame found that it was hard to form an emotional bond with Ratchet & Clank 's main characters, saying that Ratchet is "your typical teenager [...] who desires nothing more than excitement and adventure" and that Clank is "the stereotypical intellectual; stuffy and almost prudish to a fault", feeling instead that the characters of Jak and Daxter from Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy were "infinitely more likeable." Some criticisms were also aimed at the story, with GameSpy saying that the game became predictable, boring, and "just bland". Reviewers also noted that the first half of the game was "yawn inducing", but once the player reaches planet Rilgar, it becomes much more intense and difficult; GamePro found that the player does not "engage a single thought process" for the first parts of the game.
In June 2014, it was announced that the game would be re-imagined for the PlayStation 4, with the intention of remaking the original game as if Insomniac Games were to make the game again today. It has also been confirmed that the re-imagining will tie-in with the upcoming film.
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