As I've probably stated a few times over, the Ratchet and Clank franchise by Insomniac Games is one I hold very dear. The original Ratchet and Clank is one of the few games to really "wow" me with regards to visuals thanks to its gorgeous Metropolis stage. It is also the first 3D platforming game I ever played.
After re-playing through it again, I've found that although the visual quality is not as good as a modern game, it still looks good and it still plays well. The level design is still great, and Metropolis is still pretty damn gorgeous.
This is not the original Ratchet and Clank.
Now, the first question on the minds of some readers (although I still need to get some readers god dammit) is probably this: "Why the hell are you doing a First Impressions on the Vita game and not the PS3 version that was released many months ago?"
My answer is simple: I lack a PS3. I have never owned a PS3 console, I have only played one in passing. I simply don't own the appropriate console. So I'm playing through the PlayStation Vita edition instead. After all, it's still technically the same game. The levels, the story, the weapons. They're all the same.
What isn't the same as the PS3 version, however, is the visuals. Again, I've only seen videos and screenshots of the PS3 version, but it's very evident that many corners were cut in order to get the game to run on the handheld console.
Textures appear dated (and can pop in and out of nowhere), visual effects are cut down. To an extent, some cutting of corners and reduced quality are acceptable. I mean, I'm not running a PS3, it's absurd to expect PS3 style visuals.
Although the visual quality? Probably more on par with the PSP game Size Matters. Except that at least in Size Matters, our beloved furry Lombax has a shadow. Granted, there are times when the game looks gorgeous - much more so than the PSP game. There is a slight lack of consistency in that department, I guess.
That's right. Ratchet is devoid of a shadow. This makes the platforming sections pretty damn cumbersome and awkward, as it means I don't have much in the way of precision. There isn't anything to go by. I may end up falling off a platform to my horrible demise.
I wouldn't mind if Ratchet at least had a black circle underneath him. Just as a very makeshift PS1-era shadow. Just some indication as to where the hell I was.
Along with that, it's very evident that the visuals are dated. Very much so. They don't take advantage of what the Vita can really do. Compared to the likes of Soul Sacrifice or Assassin's Creed: Liberation, there really is no competition.
Again, some of the dated visuals would be more excusable if the framerate was stable. The game's never been unplayable, but there is a very noticeable drop in framerate more often than I'd like.
On a more positive note: the level design still retains that classic Ratchet and Clank charm, despite being repackaged as a tower defense-styled game.
The voice acting is what I expected from a Ratchet and Clank title, too.
Not to mention the characters. They're still entertaining and likable. Captain Quark in particular.
So do I like this game? So far, I'm actually having fun with it. It's incredibly flawed, and by the looks of things it's significantly better on the PS3, but it's still got some of that Ratchet and Clank charm. The weapons are still pretty damn fun, the combat still amuses me and the enemies have a charming appearance to them. It's by no means the best Ratchet and Clank title, but it's not bad in the gameplay department.
Some of those flaws though? I'd rather do without. The game simply doesn't run as well as I'd like. I can look past some of the flawed visuals of the game, but the lack of a shadow underneath the characters becomes a real pain in the ass in platforming sections. And even with all those cuts, the game still runs fairly sluggishly at times.
I'll likely continue playing through this game, and I am genuinely enjoying the title, but there are problems that I'd really love to see patched.