Hand me the Ratchet.
In the early 2000s, the PlayStation 2 was the console of choice for 3D platforming experiences. Leading the first-party charge was Insomniac Games’ Ratchet and Clank, which went on to become a staple franchise of the PlayStation brands and the leading characters video game icons in their own right, inspiring a slew of sequels and an HD treatment on PlayStation 3 in 2012.
Arguably the most popular between Jak & Daxter and Sly Cooper, the R&C Trilogy on Vita is most welcome for portable lovers, bundling Ratchet & Clank, Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando, and Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal. After a technically rough Jak Trilogy port and a refined one of Sly Trilogy, where does this remaster fit in on the quality scale?
The answer is somewhere in the middle - not a disaster like the former but not to the polish of the latter. The run-and-gun gameplay we all know and love remains as fun as ever, but ‘remaster’ should be used sparingly. Mass Media handled the Vita version competently and made three childhood PS2 classics portable, but not without noticeable concessions.
For one, the cutscenes in all three games are in 4:3 aspect ratio, with big black borders framing the screen. The in-game result is lower resolution, a lack of sharpness and muddled textures, as well as occasional stuttering from the otherwise solid 30fps. Audio quality is clear and the voice-acting remains as humorous as ever, but some infrequent one-second sound lag occurred during my playthrough.
The slight technical shortcomings all may be off-putting to those who are double-dipping and used to the crispness and fluidity of the PS3 version, which displays in 1080p and a fixed 60 frames per second - but in the end, this is a sizable trilogy on a portable device, not a home console. All things considered, the Vita does the job well.
In terms of controls, all three games play similarly to their original PS2 counterparts, with strafing tied to the rear touchpad, which can be a bit awkward depending if you have grips for your Vita. Otherwise, there’s no device-exclusive gimmicks here. Unfortunately, the camera does remain frustrating, but it’s all part of the nostalgia - right?
The R&C Trilogy on Vita is, as expected, a big download, condensing the three titles into a 3.4GB file for digital buyers. Like other Sony HD remasters, this title is also Cross-Buy -- if you buy the PS3 or Vita editions digitally, you get it for both systems.
In the end though, it’s all about preserving the R&C gameplay experience, and this package offers just that. The original is the simple run-and-gun mayhem simulator, while the Going Commando remains the best in terms of advancing the series with light role-playing elements in the form of upgrades, mini-games and a huge range of outrageous weapons.
The third entry of the triumvirate, Up Your Arsenal, is faster paced and full of extras (2D Captain Qwark side-scrolling!) as well as being the slickest in presentation. All three remain as charming, fun and iconic as ever - though, of course, the camera issues, backtracking and other issues also remain unchanged, too.
The Final Verdict
The Ratchet & Clank Trilogy
for PlayStation Vita is a good portable version of the original HD trilogy offered on PS3 in 2012. Sure, it is slightly less impressive technically, but remembering it runs on Vita rather than a high-end console and is an impressively condensed package, it is a worthwhile purchase for serious R&C
fans wanting to play on-the-go or seeking another reason to blast things as PlayStation’s dynamic duo.