The Ratchet and Clank series is one of my favorites in gaming. I’ve gotten the platinum trophy in three of its games, and that number would be much higher if Insomniac added trophy support to Tools of Destruction and added lock-on strafing to the original game’s PS3 version. *cough cough*
So, like all things I love, I wanted to break the series down into its best and worst entries. You’d have to imagine that Insomniac is more than ready to put Ratchet and Clank behind them and focus on new types of games (and who could blame them), but I for one would be more than happy if this series went on forever. Enjoy the list!
13. Secret Agent Clank (PSP)
I love Clank, and I think the decision to make him the star of his own game was a good one. The problem with Secret Agent Clank came in other areas. First of all, the game wasn’t developed by Insomniac and so it lacked that perfect combination of charm and innuendo, and the gameplay sections focusing on Ratchet and Quark were not very good. They hurt the overall pacing of the game with their generic and seemingly endless waves of enemies. Some of the puzzles were fun, and I liked the spy movie vibe, but the combat just didn’t feel right. Every game on this list at least has something to offer, it’s just that as a complete package, Secret Agent Clank leaves the most to be desired.
12. All 4 One (PS3)
After the conclusion of A Crack in Time, it was obvious that Insomniac wanted to take the series in some new directions to keep things fresh. Thus, we were given All4One, a four-player co-op platforming game starring Ratchet, Clank, Quark, and Nefarious. The concept was strong, and the game mostly delivered on its promise of multiplayer mayhem. The game looks absolutely beautiful in motion and actually controls relatively well, but there was just something missing. The heart of the series was gone. While the banter between the characters was fun, there was almost no story to be had. Considering it was such a step in a new direction for the series, it was surprising that the game felt a little hollow.
11. Full Frontal Assault (PS3)
There are some promising elements in Full Frontal Assault, and I definitely think it was a more successful deviation than All4One. This played more as a tower defense game, with the player controlling Ratchet on a few different maps, setting up defenses against the oncoming hordes of enemies. My interest in tower defense games is mostly defined by the property on which it focuses, so I was more willing to give this a shot than most. However, the game was just too short and lacked the variety necessary to keep me coming back to it. The story and main villain were lacking, and the actual on the ground combat that still existed wasn’t nearly as deep or satisfying as in R&C’s other titles.
10. Quest for Booty (PS3)
As a mini follow-up to Tools of Destruction, Quest for Booty at least tided me over between proper entries in the series. Sure, it was short, but it was also budget priced and downloadable. The biggest issue here is that it just felt too derivative of the previous game. The weapons were almost all the same, and since Clank was currently missing, Ratchet was instead joined occasionally by sort-of love interest Talwyn, who was just kind of boring. I do have a soft spot for Captain Slag and Rusty Pete, so at least the story was a fun space pirates romp. But the game almost felt too long even at its short runtime, mostly due to the lack of anything particularly new.
9. Ratchet and Clank (PS2)
Here is where it all began. It’s kind of hard to talk about the original Ratchet and Clank compared to the more recent games, because things have just changed so much. It’s easy to look back with rose-tinted glasses, but there are several glaring issues with that first game. There’s no lock-on while shooting, which makes the game frustratingly hard, and health doesn’t replenish unless you purchase it late in the game for an insane amount of credits. Those two problems aside, this game introduced us to the amazing characters of Ratchet, Clank, and Captain Quark (who is one of my favorite video game characters of all time). After their stellar run on the Spyro series, Insomniac tried out something new with this tongue in cheek adventure full of fantastic weapons. It clearly paid off.
8. Deadlocked (PS2)
Deadlocked is a bit of a black sheep in the main series, not because it’s bad, but because it’s so different from the games that came before and after. This is a much darker game (though still funny), due in part to the lack of Clank. Ratchet is instead paired up with two combat robots and thrust into a battle arena. Another large deviation was the bigger focus on multiplayer. You could now play cooperatively in the main campaign, and to be honest that just wasn’t really what I was looking for in a Ratchet and Clank game. The weapons were particularly great, though. This was the first real example of Insomniac trying something a little different with the series, and it mostly worked.
7. Size Matters (PSP)
Size Matters took the series from the PS2 to the PSP, and surprisingly, the transition was seamless. It still had the same great combat and weapons, told a hilarious story focusing around Captain Quark trying to find his real parents, and maintained the high standard of tight controls and funny bits. The game obviously didn’t look as good as its home console counterparts, but the colorful art design did wonders to make the levels pop. It didn’t try anything remarkably different from the main titles, but you can’t fault High Impact Games for playing it a little bit safe. Due to its handheld nature, the scope and systems of the game can’t match up to some of the later entries, but Size Matters was a better game than one might have expected.
6. Into the Nexus (PS3)
I actually really love Into the Nexus. it’s a testament to the strength of the series that six of its games rank among some of my favorite video games of all time. Into the Nexus may be the “weakest” of these top-tier entries, but it’s still an amazing conclusion to the Future series on PS3, and a great return to form after the missteps of All4One and Full Frontal Assault. Like Quest for Booty, it’s on the shorter side, but this game actually did give us plenty of new places to explore, enemies to fight, and weapons to use. It acted as a great epilogue to A Crack in Time, both in story and mechanics. Clank’s gravity-bending puzzles weren’t my favorite, but they got the job done and acted as a fun diversion from the traditional shooting and platforming gameplay.
5. Going Commando (PS2)
Going Commando really improved upon the first game in almost every major way. It was longer and more polished, while still including great weapons and focusing on a fun story. The ability to upgrade your weapons was a welcome change, as was being able to lock onto enemies. It’s amazing how a simple addition like that could completely change the feel of combat. The weapons were also even crazier than in the original with things like the Sheepinator allowing you to turn enemies into, you guessed it, sheep. Going Commando also added arena challenges, something that’s become a staple of the series. The biggest knock against it is its difficulty; the game feels almost unfair towards the end.
4. Tools of Destruction (PS3)
Tools of Destruction was one of my favorite games early on in the PS3 lifecycle. Everything felt bigger and better compared to the PS2 games. There was an obvious graphical upgrade, but the new hardware also allowed Insomniac to add more enemies on screen, give the player even bigger worlds to explore, and to create wackier weapons with better particle effects. The story started down a more mature path, exploring Ratchet’s loneliness being the last remaining Lombax and the brotherly bond between Ratchet and Clank. It wasn’t a dark tale by any means, and still focused on great, multi-layered humor. The addition of upgrading weapons through the use of Raritanium added another level to combat and customization, as well.
3. Ratchet and Clank (PS4)
The most recent entry in the series is also one of its best. To get some minor quibbles out of the way, I personally didn’t like how reliant the game was on tying into the movie that was released around the same time. The reasoning behind this is obvious, but it made elements of the story feel a little bit jumbled. I did enjoy Clank’s puzzle levels, though, and the shooting feels better than in any game in the series. It’s also worth noting that this game was a re-imagining of the original, and therefore includes a lot of similar elements, including characters, story, worlds, and weapons. Still, the newest Ratchet and Clank added plenty of great things too, and it is easily one of the prettiest games I’ve ever played.
2. Up Your Arsenal (PS2)
Similar to how Going Commando improved upon elements from the original, this third game in the series did the same. Everything felt more refined and varied, and there was even greater ability to level up weapons. Some people didn’t enjoy the greater focus on combat over platforming in this game, but I appreciated the change. It helped keep things fresh. Players were also able to strafe while shooting, which was an even better version of the lock-on mechanic from the previous game. Up Your Arsenal introduced multiplayer to the series, and while I personally didn’t play it much, it was well done. This game also introduced us to Dr. Nefarious, easily the best villain in the history of the series.
1. A Crack in Time (PS3)
To me, A Crack in Time is the complete package. The story has the most heart of any in the series, focusing on Ratchet trying to reunite himself with the missing Clank while also dealing with discovering another living Lombax. The shooting mechanics feel amazing, and include what might be the best overall weapon collection in the series. The art direction is outstanding, particularly in scenes taking place in The Great Clock. The plot utilizes Dr. Nefarious and Captain Quark in hilarious ways. The space flight segments are a great change of pace from the third person shooting. Clank’s time-bending clone creating puzzle segments are challenging and satisfying. And the conclusion is surprisingly heartfelt and bittersweet. A Crack in Time is not only one of my favorite games of all time, but one of my most beloved platinum trophies.
So there you have it, my personal ranking of every game in the Ratchet and Clank series. After so many games on so many consoles, you’d think I’d be growing tired of the series. But I would absolutely play another R&C game if it came out tomorrow. Games like All4One and Secret Agent Clank tried to shake gameplay up to varying levels of success, but I think this list proves that the series is at its best when you’re given a bunch of diverse worlds to explore with off-the-wall weapons and a great sense of humor.