Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart review: 5 things to know
A game packed with action, fun and some fantastic surprises.
If there ever was a games company that was on a roll right now it’s Insomniac. Its two Spider-Man games aren't just up there with the best superhero titles on PS4/PS5 but the best games period, creating new and brilliant storylines that match the MCU for fun and intensity.
There was A LOT of anticipation for Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, then, a PS5 game that is a follow-up to the PS4’s Ratchet & Clank, which itself was a re-imagining of the seminal PS2 game.
We’ve been playing the game for a few weeks now - here are five things to know about Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart.
1 The story captivates and is propulsive
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is standalone as far as the story is concerned and that is no bad thing - given the last PS4 outing was a re-imagining of the first game, we have waited a long time for something entirely new. If this is the first time you’ve spent with the characters, then you are introduced nicely and while it’ll take a while to understand just what is going on, the initial premise is (fairly) simple.
Doctor Nefarious wants to end all organic life in the world(s) as we know it, and Ratchet & Clank are out to stop him. In trying to do so reality completely changes and the titular heroes are separated. This means new characters are introduced and there’s a ton of dimension hopping to be done.
It’s fun, completely bonkers from the start and there isn’t a moment to breathe as you continue through the game. This doesn't mean that there aren't some tender moments, though - among the chaos we get a lot of soul searching about change maybe being a good thing.
2 The graphics are jaw dropping
This is a PS5 exclusive and has been a game that has been gestating since the creation of the console. It shows. Insomniac has delivered a jaw-dropping mix of colour and detail, blasting the screen with richness, all the while making sure that no matter how frenetic the action gets there’s nary a streak on the screen. And there is a lot going on in the screen at once, whether it is Ratchet screaming down a rollercoaster-like rail or shifting through dimensions, your eyes constantly dart around waiting for the next attack or puzzle to sort.
Make no mistake, this is a game where you can change levels in seconds, jumping from a multi-colour festival to a neon-drenched bit of drab seamlessly. It’s breath-taking just how well this works and we bet it wouldn’t have been possible if the PS5’s SSD wasn’t up to the task.
At times it can be a little jarring but you soon get used to using the dimension jumps, no matter how small they are, to one-up against a small army of enemies. They become as essential as the arsenal you have to attack the enemies with.
To really make use of the graphic prowess on show, there are two ‘enhanced' modes you can play the game in: Performance Mode (dynamic 4K / 60fps) and Performance RT Mode (dynamic 4K / 60fps with ray-tracing enabled) - both are downloadable at launch. There is also a Skip Cinematic option but we rather liked the cut scenes and they never felt too long.
For those who are yet to upgrade to a TV that can handle the above, then Fidelity mode is also there and means that framerates do not drop (things are kept to 30fps) - you won’t have your mind blown but it still all looks impressive.
3 The fight scenes are intense, thrilling
Ratchet & Clank has always been known for its fight scenes but there has never been this much intensity. Even in the earlier levels there is a lot going on that can be off putting, but the array of guns and weapons on offer and the mix of dimension jumping just adds to the thrilling elements of it all.
Whether you are playing as Ratchet or Rivet, their fighting style feels different which is great to see. It’s all set to a backdrop of a stunning score by Thor Ragnarok’s Mark Mothersbaugh. While there is a fair amount of button mashing to do - and you will regularly run out of ammo - some thought really has gone into the placement of the enemies and there are always myriad ways you can try and get through them.
Further into the game, the scope of the dimension rifts and the fun Insomniac is having is just wonderful. Like a best-of, there are things that appear and happen that will have you jumping for joy and using accessories and weapons that will be familiar but certainly not within the context of a Ratchet & Clank game.
We don’t quite know how Insomniac pulled it all off but it is fantastic fun to play through.
4 The haptic feedback is put to brilliant use
The Sony PS5’s DualSense controller is one of the biggest draws for the PlayStation 5. It is a stunning piece of technology and at the centre of it is its creative use of haptic feedback.
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart uses this technology to the utmost. It is so brilliantly in line with the music and what’s going on the screen that it is no longer a gimmick but an essential part of the game. We’ve never felt feedback quite like the whirring of the copter rotors at the beginning of the game - we thought the controller was going to take off!
Each gun and weapon has its own unique haptic feedback, too, which really adds a new dimension to the gameplay.
5 It’s fun and never loses sight of that
Despite the interplanetary switching, the darkness of some of the dystopia on show, this is a fun game and Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart never loses sight of that.
The comedy comes thick and fast through quips and interplay, the main baddie is as ridiculous as it gets but also fun because of this.
The two narratives that sweep and slice throughout the game really work, creating a gaming experience that really does envelop you. It’s been a long time coming for these characters to get a new game and it has been well worth the wait.
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart - Final Verdict
Just like the PS4 version of Ratchet & Clank, which redefined the game for a new generation, Insomniac has done it again with Rift Apart. It’s a game that delves deep into the power of PS5 and is a showcase of a console that’s really only just getting started - although you wouldn't know it with what's on display here.
The biggest issue here is getting an actual console! Sony hasn’t yet found a way to get the PS5 into the hands of everyone that wants it, which is a massive shame because Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is a game that should be played - and enjoyed - by all.
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