Shacknews Best Graphics of 2021 - Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart

The next generation finally arrived when Insomniac and Sony delivered the latest installment of the Ratchet & Clank franchise.


Ever since the dawn of the video game, engineers and artists have pushed for the newest technology so that game designers can attempt to construct the software of their dreams with as few compromises as possible. As Atari consoles were supplanted by the Nintendo Entertainment System, which itself would be supplanted by the 16-bit consoles, video game fans began expecting big leaps in fidelity and complexity when purchasing new gaming hardware. The newest generation of consoles arrived late last holiday season to much fanfare but with very small amounts of stock on the ground.

Just when retail shops were struggling to come up with new consoles to sell, the manufacturers were struggling to produce next-generation software to go along with the new hardware. Several months after a thin software launch, Sony unleashed Insomniac Games’ latest adventure into the world. Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart kicked down the doors of the ninth console generation and put everyone on notice that the PS5 was not hardware to be taken lightly.

It only takes a few seconds of seeing Rift Apart running on the PS5 to understand that things have changed for the better. Insomniac was tasked with nearly all the heavy lifting last holiday season when they dropped Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales (as well as a spruced-up reissue of its massively successful first attempt at a Spider-Man game), but we couldn’t have imagined the megaton bomb they were holding in wait for the Spring of 2021.

Making use of all the latest technical bells and whistles, Rift Apart truly looks like a big-budget animated feature film. From the individual Lombax furs to the sprawling cityscapes filled with hundreds of flying vehicles, each frame rendered by the PS5 is a painting. Even ray-traced effects make an appearance here, offering a level of image quality that even surpasses what is available on the best gaming PCs. You’d likely have to go all the way back to the early PS2/Xbox/Gamecube era to find the most recent example of a console game clearly trouncing the PC on the merits of graphics technology.

Rift Apart also uses the fast NVME storage technology in the PS5 to eliminate load times and enable the near-instantaneous warping from one environment to the next. The game uses enough of the new hardware in the PS5 to make it clear to anyone playing that this game simply wasn’t possible on the rapidly aging PS4. We cannot wait to see what Insomniac has lined up later in this console generation as they’ll have an even firmer grasp on what the CPU and GPU in the PS5 are capable of.

Watch the Shacknews Awards 2021 YouTube playlist or read our Year of the Games: 2021 article for all of the awards in one place. We will be announcing our Shacknews GOTY 2021 on December 31.

Contributing Tech Editor

Chris Jarrard likes playing games, crankin' tunes, and looking for fights on obscure online message boards. He understands that breakfast food is the only true food. Don't @ him.

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