Third exclusive since the launch of the PS5, the blockbuster Insomniac to amaze the most jaded. That’s the good news.
The fun event of the first half of 2021 is at its touching end. This is a video game, a PlayStation 5 exclusive (a real one, no PS4 version, no PC version) from Insomniac Games, one of the most prolific studios of the Sony teams which had already shown proof of an undeniable mastery at the end of last year with “Spider-Man – Miles Morales” (PS4 / PS5). “Ratchet & Clank – Rift Apart” is its name, its release is set for Friday, June 11 and nothing will make it move. With the critical embargo lifted today, Tuesday June 8 at 4:00 p.m., expect a wave to meet the expectations raised by this blockbuster intended for a large audience.
Nine planets later
We had the privilege of being able to explore up and down and across the action fields of Ratchet, a fennec-eared lombax and his sidekick Clank, a little erudite robot well known to fans of the PlayStation community, the franchise being born on PS2 and having already produced many toddlers. And since it is about moving from one dimension to another, we have been given the opportunity to embody their female counterparts. We go from one character to another depending on the worlds visited. The general objective is once again to save a fanciful galaxy threatened by the very disturbed Doctor Nefarius, in possession of a weapon capable of creating breaches in the space-time continuum. It all begins with a ceremony during which Ratchet is honored for his latest feat (he saves the galaxy like others save princesses), a party disrupted by the nutty doctor and his henchmen.
This introduction is obviously made to impress the eyes and ears and as much to say that it achieves it with flying colors. Huge space, teeming with details, here we are immediately transported into an animated feature film corresponding to current Hollywood standards, plus interactivity. The power of the new generation console combined with the technical skills of the Insomniac studio sparks constantly since this level of quality, with a diversity of gameplay firmly established, is maintained throughout the adventure.
Dimensions and gameplay
A little technical aside, which partly explains why “Rift Apart” is only released on PS5, the game exploits the speed of the console’s own SSD storage memory, especially when our heroes are propelled from one dimension to another. No waiting, the passage is instantaneous, it is obviously very impressive. With a downside, however, this show of force is only an important gameplay key in the middle of the game. It is certainly also used at the start and end of the game but rather falls within a narrative framework. This in no way tarnishes the feat but does not let it dominate a more classic gameplay consisting of explorations of a greater or lesser extent (one per planet), of harvests of monetary units to buy equipment. and technical units to ramp up weapons. The whole is punctuated by numerous fights which lead to clashes of bosses a little more sturdy than the all-rounder.
The high-end manufacture of the game shines through at all levels. It has given the fan of animated fantasy that we are a constant pleasure, as much during the confrontations as during the phases of platforms. The game having the elegance of being able to be configured for all types of gamers, from the more going to war to the more contemplative, everyone will find their reasons for satisfaction.
Show and emotions
That said, while “Ratchet & Clank” is at the top in terms of spectacle and virtuoso gameplay, it does not do away with clichés of entertainment for all. The characters remain stereotypes of cartoons. The villain, treated like a burlesque caricature, has only one goal, absolute domination. It is a precious ridicule, an operetta threat. The good guys are brave, sometimes clumsy. Loners understand the importance of having friends and teaming up. The dilemmas are reduced to their simplest expression and are only a pale reflection of those who cross the community of men even allegorically. As for attempts to resort to emotion, they are welcome, quite subtly introduced but remain superficial, without ever reaching the reach of the chills distilled in the greatest Pixar productions. This is the limit of exercise in a premium action video game industry.
And then there is also a final which obeys the laws of overbidding. It does not bother us more than that in terms of tension, a test more difficult than the others to accomplish. You have to know how to deserve the end, it’s the law of the genre. But precisely, because it is the law of the genre, we are eager to one day discover a satisfactory way to transgress it, to discover another way to tie the sheaf.
During our journey we were, very rarely, confronted with bugs. In particular one which prevented us from progressing because of small enemies blocked in a well hidden corner of the arena by an element of scenery. An arena that had to be meticulously explored to succeed in spotting them, slaying them as planned and thus unlocking the next phase. These small gaps in finishes have been corrected, with certainty in the areas to which we have returned, by a patch now available and automatically installed.
The choice of modes
For lovers of technical exploits, note that the plaster introduces three options for the game. A “Fidelity” mode which targets 30 images per second without concessions visible to the naked eye for 4K graphics and “ray tracing” (management of reflections). A “Performance” mode that runs the game at 60 frames per second with ray tracing disabled (reflections are more standard). And finally a “RT performance” world which, as its name suggests, retains the hardware management of reflections and 60 fps but with concessions on the definition (degradation hardly perceptible to us). It is this last mode that we ended up favoring, the increased fluidity bringing the additional noticeable comfort. Many thanks to Insomiac for having managed to add this third way.
Despite the expectations and the pressure, “Ratchet & Clank – Rift Apart” remains the hoped-for rare pearl. But what is also is the limited number of PS5 on sale, still as difficult to find in Switzerland as elsewhere, and this since the launch of the console there are now more than six months. A situation of general shortage never seen in the memory of an observer.
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