HD Collections are impeccably hit or miss. There’s seemingly no in-between. You’re either a beautiful looking contemporary reminder of a timeless classic with high definition bells and whistles attached or, you’re a poorly re-conceived recycled dud. Silent Hill HD Collection – you know who you are. Thankfully, where third party publishers appear to stutter and fumble, Sony appear to have nailed the HD compilation hypothesis. With Sly, Jak & Daxter, ICO and a handful of other classic first party PS2 series already making a very welcome jump to HD on PS3, Ratchet and Clank and their freshman PS2 efforts were always going to appear on a Blu-ray slapped “HD” at some stage. Thankfully for you and I, the transition to PS3 is another HD success for Sony and a wonderful reminder of how great the original adventures of everyone’s favourite Lombax and his mechanical companion were back in the day.
If you’ve played any of the PS3 only R&C Future games, picking up the original R&C a decade on is something of a odd experience, not least because in the ten years and half a dozen core games that developer Insomniac have produced under the R&C moniker, the formula remains rudimentary unchanged. The original pushed the core fundamentals of bolt collecting, planet hoping and most importantly of all, collecting any number of imaginative, creative and downright powerful gadgets and weaponry from the get go. And that “day one cross game experience” is something that resonates through everything you do in the first hour of the original R&C. You’ll be introduced to the main protagonists, weapon upgrades, the lush expansive colourful worlds, the wise talking, quick witted dialogue of the extended cast and the wonderfully appropriate music. R&C 1 is a platforming triumph and even though it doesn’t quite feel as big as it did in 2002, it’s still a wonderful game. Of course now, it values from a HD facelift and as expected, it looks great. Insomniac has created a world that really suits the extra buff and polish of HD and it really shines through here.
The only thing I’d say against the first Ratchet adventure is, with all the madness of gadgets, guns and intergalactic travel, you kind of get the feeling that Insomniac was unsure as to what element to concentrate on and anchor the franchise to. Sequel Locked & Loaded feels much more focused than the former and subtle changes make for a more integrated and involved experience. Swapping between weapons for example, has been simplified and really enhances the fluidity and smoothness of the often times frantic shootouts.
The trilogy is completed by Up Your Arsenal, the first R&C game to actually change things up a bit by introducing a number of different set pieces and gameplay variations. Don’t get me wrong, running around and hovering enemies up with the “Suck Gun” is fun for three whole games, but repetition and the feeling that you’re repeating the same, albeit it fun, tasks, definitely creeps in after while, especially when you play all three games so close together as you probably will with this trilogy. Up Your Arsenal features all the usual elements and a couple of neat extras as varied as sky diving and as obvious but refreshing similar as 2D platforming elements. Up Your Arsenal also boasts 8 player multiplayer and the fact that Insomniac and HD upgraders Idol Minds retained this is a real trump card for the whole trilogy collection. R&C online, from the few games I managed to get into, is great fun.
It’s difficult to pick holes in this package. Yes, it’s somewhat repetitive and in terms of innovation, there isn’t much of a leap or variation in gameplay between games, but these are forgivable small gripes. All three games are structured the same way, so if you loved R&C the first time you played it, you should love everything this Blu-ray offers. These are big games. Don’t expect to get through everything in 5 odd hours. There’s almost too much to get through.
At the very least, the R&C HD Trilogy offers excellent value for money. For €30 you can go back and relive the humble beginnings of one of the PlayStation’s best exclusive platform franchises with the benefit of some HD re-jigging. It’s certainly worthy of your time. The R&C Future games may well represent the series at its best, but this HD Trilogy really highlights just how great R&C’s past adventures were too. If you’re looking for a little HD nostalgia to keep you going over the summer months, you can’t really go wrong with this one.
TGL SCORE 8/10
Format: PlayStation 3
Developer: Insomniac Games, Idol Minds
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Release Date: June 29th 2012