While most people are talking about the fate of the Metal Gear Solid franchise, I think it's a good idea to switch gears and explore the idea of a whole new frontier. Hideo Kojima is no longer shackled to pumping out MGS games, where does he go now?
A Brief Reflection: Ratchet and Clank
Ratchet and Clank is a series that stands as a major part of my childhood and yes, I look up to a Lombax…
The series may have been a drastic change from the Spyro games but Insomniac Games went all out for their first Playstation 2 release. To start off, let me bring up something that burdened my mind at the time of the title’s release. A lot of gamers may have overlooked it, but the game had a peculiar cover.
However, the title proved to be a welcome addition to my early Playstation 2 library and I fell in love with the furry goon. In addition, when it came to placing the disc into my tray for the first time, I was quite surprised to find the sci-fi elements which were strewn throughout the epic.
It was one of those rare moments where you say to yourself, “you shouldn’t judge games by their cover”, and yes, you just read that.
Furthermore, the action-platformer provided me with hours of exciting gameplay though I was quite misled to believe that Clank would play a bigger role than he did in the series’ first installment. The same could have been said about the Jak and Daxter series and the interesting character dynamics which Naughty Dog was going for. It was easy to see that the two developers had cast these characters in a manner worth noting specifically when each of their personalities bounced off each other quite well. I mean, who could ever forget Clank’s insertion of binary reasoning in the most mundane situations? Nonetheless, I was quite disapointed in the early portrayal of Ratchet for he possessed a very somber visage in the first title seeming never to become too invested in any of his emotions. I believe that Insomniac greatly improved on this as the series went along.
In Ratchet and Clank’s second outing, Insomniac placed the duo on a larger scale though the title simply improved on a number of elements from the first game. For one, Ratchet’s voice changed! The rough sounding mechanic sounded a bit more wimpy but still allowed for his heroic persona to shine through (kudos to you James Arnold Taylor). The voice change actually ended up making me like the character a lot more as it allowed him to become more personable and resemble a laid back mechanic a bit less.
The two had the opportunity in the second game to have the courtesy of ripping the galaxy… another one? (Wait, that doesn’t sound right).
More weapons, more levels, more planets. Done. Great title. Next!
However, it was in the third installment in the series where Insomniac’s true vision of the Lombax truly came to fruition. The little guy was now an established veteran having his name plastered on the side’s of skyscrapers present on planets he had never even been to. Ratchet was receiving the Shepard treatment while Clank was… well… acting? I think that’s what he called it. The latter probably became the most annoying story addition in the series and eventually resulted in its evolution from being a heavier title in terms of maturity to a more light-hearted rendition of Insomniac Games’ artistic passion.
To compare the two series one last time, it must be duly noted that Jak and Daxter had become progressively darker in its maturation while the Ratchet and Clank series steered clear of plots unbeknownst to anyone over the age of 7. This resulted, of course, in the Ratchet series still retaining the original allure which was simply destroying aliens with big guns and probably accounted for Insomniac’s decision to milk the cash cow for years to come. Eventually, the decision to take a light-hearted route is probably what made the title the commercial success that it is today (barring, of course, the ‘All 4 One’ installment which is a pun that has been abused for too many years).
Later installments in the series such as Ratchet: Deadlocked and the subsequent Playstation 3 releases haven’t really done it as much for me. I think its because they were simply bigger, more beautiful versions of the games I had come to love and adore as a little tyke. Is this bad? Heavens no. Do I appreciate it? Yes. Has that been enough to warrant my completing them? Unfortunately no. The titles are great but as I’ve gotten older my taste in games has matured with me. As a result, the Ratchet series remains one of my favorite gaming epics and will forever have that place in my heart.