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Ratchet & Clank: hands-on at PlayStation Experience 2015

Every great story starts somewhere and Insomniac is just about to get around to telling the origins of the Ratchet & Clank story. Fans are about to find out how the heroic Lombax and his mechanical sidekick first came together. Those answers are coming in a feature film. But what about the game based on the movie based on the game? That's going to tell a slightly different take on the story, making it one of the more unconventional movie tie-in games to hit in quite some time. Shacknews recently attended this year's PlayStation Experience to go hands-on with Ratchet & Clank, checking out a new stage and getting a different perspective on this origin story.

The PlayStation Experience keynote showed off just what players should expect to see. Ratchet is longing for an opportunity to join the Galactic Rangers. Meanwhile, Clank has crash-landed near his planet, holding the secret to the villanous plot to destroy the Solana Galaxy. If the movie reimagines the duo's origin story, the game is that same story told from an unreliable narrator. In this case, the game's story is told from the perspective of Captain Qwark, so while certain elements of the movie can be seen here, expect them to be colored by Qwark's egocentric point of view.

Meanwhile, players should also expect to find the familiar Ratchet & Clank formula intact. It's crisp, responsive 3D platforming, with Ratchet able to move across areas with a double jump and by grappling across large gaps with his swingshot. Enemies will pop up, with many smaller ones able to get smacked to the side with a melee attack. Larger ones can get blasted by Ratchet's crazy weapons, some of which make their return from other series games. For example, the Groovitron makes its return from A Crack in Time and gets a visual upgrade thanks to the PlayStation 4's higher-fidelity graphics.

While the E3 demos were fully available to play, PlayStation Experience also debuted a new area called Pokitaru. The objective here is to meet up with Felton Rezz and safely escort him across the level. He's never in any real danger, as the enemies will all gang up on Ratchet, allowing him to try out his aforementioned arsenal. The idea is simply to take out any hostiles before activating switches to create bridges. There were some massive boss-sized characters that gave Ratchet ample opportunity to try out some of the game's newer weapons, including the Pixelator, which damages foes while also briefly turning them into flat 8-bit textures. An auto-aiming assist reticule would pop up when getting closer to larger, more distant foes, which was helpful when trying to simultaneously swat away smaller enemies, but the option is still there to aim and fire the old-fashioned way.

There's definitely a different atomsphere swirling around this particular iteration of Ratchet & Clank. It does feel like a movie tie-in and does have me curious to check out the big screen story. However, the play style perfectly fits as a faithful entry to the gaming series proper, while the Pixar-like character models and environments make this appear to be an ideal PlayStation 4 debut for the heroic duo.

The "Captain Qwark as unreliable narrator" plot device didn't see much play during my time with the game. While it was demonstrated during the PSX keynote, it still something I'm looking forward to checking out once Ratchet & Clank arrives. In addition to getting a hands-on opportunity, PlayStation Experience viewers and attendees were given the game's official release date. Meet Ratchet & Clank all over again on April 12.

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