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.
Life in a low income household sucks. When you're an adult, it means you worry about every single thing, your expenses, your budgets. It just sucks.
As a child in the year 1998, it meant I saw how stressed my parents were. I also - more selfishly - saw how much of a horrible thing it was that I couldn't even get the Nintendo 64 console. Now, I know it's a little sad, but I was 4 at the time.
After seeing adverts and hearing what my friends had to say about it, I really desperately wanted the Nintendo 64. I'd never owned a video game console in my life. Hell, I'd never even played a video game. It was a pretty tragic existence, I suppose.
Sadly, I never got the Nintendo 64 console I so desperately wanted. That doesn't mean this story has an unhappy ending, however.
See, at the age of 4 and with Asperger's Syndrome, I really couldn't say too many words. I could never pronounce the number "64" so I always just said "Nintendo." I really wanted that "Nintendo."
About half a year later, a family friend comes by. This was a man who ever-so-frequently went to garage sales to pick up whatever stuff he could. He was almost like a hoarder, except he did go on to resell a lot of the stuff he picked up. Anyway, he found an old NES console. And hearing about how much I really wanted a "Nintendo," he decided to give it to us. That and a nice collection of games to play.
And I know some children would be disappointed, getting an older and less powerful device than what they wanted, but I was absolutely thrilled. It was still a Nintendo console, therefore it was still a "Nintendo" I so very much wanted. I couldn't wait to pick up the controls and play some games.
The first game on the pile was Super Mario Bros. I'd heard good things about Super Mario 64, so I was very excited to be able to play a Mario game.
Everything about the game made me fall in love with the console. It was gorgeous, so simplistic yet so fun. The music was ridiculously catchy, the controls were nice and responsive. The level design was just brilliant. I loved gaming from that point on.
But my story doesn't end there. One of the next games I played was Castlevania. I was interested in it because it just sounded cool. Not much reasoning there, but I was 4. You can't trust 4 year old children to make very rational decisions.
Needless to say, I was quickly hooked. To this day, I still think Castlevania has some of the best video game music I've heard in my life. Not to mention the gameplay was fun and the art style was pretty decent. It also helped out that I had an interest in monsters, for which Castlevania delivers in excess.
Sadly, about a year later the NES died. I don't really know what happened, but it was a tragedy. A horrific event.
My family, like wonderful people, went out to look for a new NES console. Just as a replacement. They were pretty old consoles, so the price wouldn't have been too extreme.
Unfortunately, we never found another NES. But at least we found a Sega Genesis (or as it was called here: the Mega Drive). I picked up the controls, which I quickly noticed had much more buttons on it than my old NES, and started playing some Sonic the Hedgehog. Unlike Super Mario Bros, this game was a lot more fast-paced and chaotic. It was enough to keep me interested, and I did have a hell of a lot of fun playing on the Genesis. It was definitely a fun console and I still have nothing but good memories of it.
I think though, the first time I was ever truly blown away by the visuals of a game would be when we managed to pool enough money together and pick up a brand new (this is when the console was fairly modern, too) PlayStation 2 console as a Christmas present for the whole family. One of the first games I got for it was Ratchet and Clank. It was a pretty big jump, to go from a Genesis to a PS2, and I didn't know what to expect. I had never played a PlayStation console in my life, and I had very little experience playing a Nintendo 64. There was just nothing for me to go by.
Suffice to say, my jaw literally dropped the moment I saw Metropolis in Ratchet and Clank. After playing very two-dimensional games where it was so easy to discern the game from reality, where it was so painfully obvious that you were in a game, this was the first time I actually felt like there was a whole other world within my television.
Everything looked so lifelike. It was so hard to believe. This was the moment when I came to appreciate how far technology had advanced. The moment when I saw games as a gateway to another place. Instead of sitting in front of a TV with a controller in hand, I felt like I was exploring a whole new world.