Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart

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Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart Review

A damn good time

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Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart has all the looks, charm, and heart of a Pixar movie. But it’s playable and takes the experience further by taking advantage of all the next gen features of the PlayStation 5.

Quick background 

Ratchet & Clank is a fairly popular series that was first introduced in November 2002 for the PlayStation 2. There’s been around nine games since the first release including a very self-aware soft reboot in 2016 for the PlayStation 4.

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart builds on the lore of this dynamic duo without needing much of a background from the previous games. If you’re really curious, you can hop on to YouTube for recaps and retrospectives on the franchise.

Multidimensional madness

Rift Apart is pretty much a standalone story. It begins with Ratchet & Clank being honored in a grand celebration as heroes for their past exploits. This establishes the duo’s stature in their universe.

As expected, long-time recurring villain Dr. Nefarious crashes the party touting a Dimensionator — a weapon that opens dimensional rifts. A tussle naturally occurs with the Dimensionator exploding and opening various rifts across the universe.

Dr. Nefarious with the Dimensionator

Ratchet & Clank are separated but Clank finds himself in the company of another Lombax — Rivet. Rivet is part of a rebellion battling against The Emperor. We quickly learn that The Emperor is the Dr. Nefarious of this other universe.

The rest of the game sees our heroes Ratchet, Clank, and Rivet go on adventures as they figure out how to fix the Dimensionator to prevent all of the universes from falling apart.

The charm and heart of a Pixar flick

I think it’s safe to say that most of us have seen a Pixar movie or two. They typically have this fun, heartwarming tone and that’s exactly how Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart comes off.

The writing is solid and has strong character moments for each of the leading casts. The dialogues are witty, and very entertaining that you’ll likely catch yourself smiling at times. Whether it’s a cutscene or just in-game banter between characters.

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart

Rivet and Clank

The way it balances heavy moments with good, clean, fun while remaining tonally consistent is a magnificent feat. While the story itself isn’t mindblowing, it is told efficiently and wonderfully. It’s never boring and keeps you interested.

Vivid worlds, gorgeous details 

PlayStation and Insomniac Games have been very loud about this game. After all, this is a year one title for the PlayStation 5 (PS5). All the trailers and gameplay footage they showcased are eye-popping and this quality is maintained throughout the game.

One of the hallmarks that was routinely mentioned is how busy and lived-in the different environments look, feel, and sound. This is an aspect of the game that I don’t think would have been possible if not for the PS5.

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart

The fast loading times allow for the busy-looking background. Certain areas of the world offer a different feel on the DualSense controller much like how it felt in some parts of the “demo game” Astro’s Playroom. And, the incredible Sound Design offers depth in every section of the game.

In cutscenes where I normally would put the controller down, I found myself holding on to the DualSense just to see how a scene is enhanced by the rumble. All of these things come together nicely and are implemented in just the right way at just the right moments to deliver a truly astonishing experience.

Fidelity, Performance, and Performance RT 

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart will be available to play in three visual modes. Fidelity for 4K with ray-tracing, additional VFX and increased scene density at 30 FPS. Performance RT provides 60 FPS gaming with ray-tracing but at a lower resolution with adjusted lighting, VFX, and scene density. Lastly, there’s Performance mode which totally does away with ray-tracing but offers high resolution 60 FPS gameplay.

My six-going-on-seven-year-old 1080P TV couldn’t really take advantage of the Performance and Performance RT modes. However, even if I had a TV that fully supported these modes, I still would have likely gone with Fidelity mode.

To me, personally, it fits the look and feel of the world better. And maybe it really is just my TV,  but Fidelity mode offered a richer picture quality overall versus the more flat-looking Performance and Performance RT modes.

Really fun gameplay

Rift Apart provides a healthy mix of action, shooting, platforming, and puzzle-solving to keep you on your toes. And while it isn’t an open world game, it still encourages a healthy amount of exploration as you examine every nook and cranny of a particular area to make sure you get all the collectibles.

The game does a good job of encouraging you to actually look for the collectibles. For instance, completed armors not only give you a different look, they also provide a permanent stat boost.

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart

These huge bolts are also collectibles

You’ll also want to smash everything in sight to collect bolts. Bolts are your currency to buy weapons, and weapons in Ratchet & Clank are incredibly fun to use.

Best video game weapons

You’ll want to get your hands on as many of them as possible. Different weapons do different things. While there are those that straight up inflict damage, some are great for managing huge crowds of enemies — something you’ll do a lot of in this game.

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart

Weapons are improved in two different ways: First is by levelling them up by continuously using them. Second, is by collecting raritanium to unlock the weapon’s abilities and raise its limits. The higher the level, the more abilities you’re able to unlock.

My personal favorites are the Topiary Sprinkler (for stunning), Glove of Doom (for extra help), and the Blackhole Storm (for straight up dealing damage).

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart

Changing weapons

You can assign weapons to the directional buttons to quickly switch. However, if you really need a breather from combat that can get chaotic, you can press the triangle button to pull-up the weapons menu and select one that best fits your predicament.

Puzzles, mini games

Clank’s sections are still puzzles. This time, though, each set of puzzles he solves closes a volatile dimensional rift. I can see the puzzles being challenging to a younger audience, but anyone with a significant amount of gaming experience will breeze through these.

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart

Clank’s puzzles

Ratchet will also pick up Glitch — a tiny robot that combats bugs to help the male Lombax open doors to gain access to a new section of an area both to advance the story or to acquire collectibles.

Again, the sections with Glitch shouldn’t be too challenging. They help in adding another layer to the action, shooting, and platforming, and there weren’t too many of them to be considered a distraction.

Another great PS5 showcase

Following Returnal, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is another fantastic showcase of all the next gen capabilities of the PlayStation 5. Unlike the aforementioned game though, this one’s wrapped in a bright, colorful package that should be welcoming to a wider variety of gamers.

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart

A lot of heart

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is a lighthearted adventure with some lessons of forgiveness and rising above adversity. It has entertaining gameplay, stunning visuals, immersive sound, and an overall incredible feel. For older gamers, it’ll evoke the feeling of being a kid again, and for younger gamers, it’s certainly a game that will leave a positive mark.

It’s the perfect title to get into PS5 gaming and one that every PS5 owner should consider adding to their library.

Gaming

Diablo II: Resurrected is now available on PC and consoles

Clearer, harder, more destructive and more available than ever before

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Back in the year 1997, Blizzard Entertainment had this rather unique idea for a hack-and-slash game for the PC in Diablo. In essence, it’s a medieval-themed action-RPG that puts the player face-to-face with the menacing Diablo himself. Three years later, they released the critically-acclaimed Diablo II, following the events of its prequel. 21 years later, this same critically-acclaimed title got a remaster in Diablo II: Resurrected.

Diablo II: Resurrected takes elements from the 2000 classic and gives it a completely modern touch. Apart from keeping the same gameplay mechanics, Blizzard improves on the overall visual and audio quality. For example, they re-shot all 27 minutes of the original cinematics in high fidelity color and surround sound. Also, the game stays true to the original in terms of game logic and game engine calculations.

Much like the original, players can choose between seven iconic character classes, including the two classes in the Druid and Assassin from Diablo II: Lord of Destruction. Of course, this remaster also comes with some quality-of-life improvements — including controller support, colorblind modes, and extensive keybind options.

Diablo II: Resurrected is now available on PC (Battle.net), PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and the Nintendo Switch.

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Nintendo announces huge list of games for holidays

Titles like Kirby, Bayonetta, and a Nintendo Switch Online expansion

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The holiday season is here. Every year, the gaming industry gets a speed boost coming from annual holiday discounts, new games, and newly gifted consoles. Keeping with that trend, Nintendo has hosted a new Nintendo Direct in anticipation for the coming holiday season. Here are the biggest announcements from the event:

Nintendo 64, meet the Switch

Since the launch of the first wave of classic games, Nintendo Switch Online held the most promise for Switch owners. The subscription service offered games from decades past for free. Naturally, the growing catalog is working its way forwards, starting off with the NES and SNES generations.

In late October, the clock is moving even further. Nintendo is launching a massive booster pack, infusing the service with classic Nintendo 64 and Sega Genesis games. The launch lineup will include favorites like Super Mario 64, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Mario Kart 64, and many others. Further along, it will also add games like Pokémon Snap and Majora’s Mask.

Kirby is coming

After years of smaller games, Kirby is finally getting a major platformer release for the Switch. Kirby and the Forgotten Land takes the eponymous blob to a new post-apocalyptic world. As always, the hero can swallow different characters and enemies to claim their powers. It even features familiar characters like Link – at least according to the trailer.

Kirby and the Forgotten Land will launch sometime in Spring 2022.

More Animal Crossing

It’s a trailer of a trailer, but it’s worth mentioning. The popular island simulator Animal Crossing: New Horizons is getting a major update this November. Though the announcement was scant with details, it looks like the game is finally getting a café inside the museum. Nintendo will announce more in October.

Final Fantasy but Mario Kart

What would a famous franchise be without its own racing game spinoff? The long-running Final Fantasy franchise is getting its own racing game called Chocobo GP. Though the title features the iconic creature, the game will also have familiar characters from the series. It will launch sometime next year.

And a host of others

Aside from the main announcements, Nintendo also previewed some new titles, upcoming expansions, and remakes for the console. Headlining this crew is Bayonetta 3 which is due to come out next year.

Monster Hunter Rise, the Switch-exclusive entry to the series, is getting an expansion pack called Sunbreak is coming summertime next year.

Creators of the quirky franchise Nier are making a new spinoff to their series. Voice of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars is card game coming to the Switch on October 28.

Finally, the classic Star Wars game Knights of the Old Republic is now on the Switch. It’s not a remake, too. It’s the original game, and it’s out already.

SEE ALSO: Nintendo Switch gets Bluetooth audio compatibility

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Death Stranding Director’s Cut: Best game I don’t enjoy

Brilliant but tough to power through

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Death Stranding Director's Cut

Maybe it was already my mindset heading into this review. But I’d like to think I really gave it a chance. Despite that, every time I launched Death Stranding Director’s Cut on PS5, I felt burdened instead of excited.

That said, I don’t think this is a bad game by any stretch of the imagination. Full disclosure, due to the burdensome feeling I only managed to get to about 30-40 percent of the game. That, on top of other responsibilities for this publication.

So yeah, I think it’s a combination of things. The generally slow pace of the game, the premise of avoiding enemies you can’t see, and just the grind work of having to lug around packages — these all contributed to an experience that I cannot describe as fun.

You can say, that isn’t the point of the game. After all, it’s set in a post-apocalyptic America and you make your way around the open world wary of enemies you can’t see. But isn’t that something we’re already kind of going through. I guess I could just never wrap my head around my form of escape mirroring bleak real world situations a little too much.

Early game additions

Hard to see here, but the Support Skeleton is equipped

Death Stranding Director’s Cut goes out of its way to make sure players feel less strained. About five to seven hours into the game and you’ll gain access to two key additions: the Maser Gun and the Support Skeleton.

The Maser Gun is essentially a high-powered stun gun. It electrocutes MULEs (human enemies) you’ll encounter in deliveries. And immediately after acquiring it, you’ll also gain access to another addition in the Director’s Cut — the shooting range.

Death Stranding Director's Cut

At the shooting range, you’ll be faced with various challenges in taking down MULEs. Most importantly, you’ll be able to practice your aim while dealing with multiple MULEs.

Meanwhile, the Support Skeleton is as straightforward as it sounds. It’s equipped on your lower body to help with traversal. It’s an especially helpful tool early in the game when you don’t have access yet to vehicles and other support items.

Death Stranding Director's Cut

Oh and no more Monster Energy drink in this version

Overall good game design

Death Stranding pulls off many interesting ideas and presents them in ways that undeniably gives it the feel of a AAA (Triple-A) game. The character models and environments, as you may have seen on trailers, are brilliant and blockbuster-worthy.

In terms of gameplay, I was particularly impressed by how you can traverse every single element in the open world. Whether that’s a dirt road, grassy fields, and rocky terrain, the game doesn’t make any completely inaccessible.

Of course, sometimes you have to get creative. Crossing waterways and rock formations may require that you use ladders. You’ll also sometimes find yourself looking down on a cliff. Thankfully, you can also carry items that will let you rappel.

Social Strand System

But perhaps the most unique game mechanic is the Social Strand System. If you play online, this means you’ll gain access to ladders and other structures that other players have built. If any of these structures were particularly helpful for you, you can smash likes to show the other player your appreciation.

It’s such a creative way to include some form of community building in a single player game. It’s a fantastic idea and one I hope we see some iteration of in other games in the future.

In-game interface

If I had a bone to pick with the visual presentation, it would probably be the mail. The text is incredibly tiny, even if you choose the large option. It’s no fun having to read blocks of text and the game encourages you to read the emails as part of the story. I mean, I already read tons of emails daily. I don’t need that in games I play. I think this is another part of the game that really lowered the fun meter for me.

Other improvements

Death Stranding Director's Cut

Buddy Bot!

Death Stranding Director’s Cut also comes with plenty of the usual next-gen improvements on PS5 games. You get the usual upgrades in haptic feedback and adaptive triggers on the DualSense controller. Although, I would argue that they could’ve been utilized better especially for sensing BTs (the ghost-life figures you have to avoid) nearby.

I’ve already gushed about the visuals but playing this in 4K 60fps was really a treat for the eyes. I personally am not a fan of the graphics setting that prioritizes refresh rate. I’m always after a more cinematic feel which I think is what this game suits best. So my recommendation is to play the game prioritizing resolution.

Other in-game additions include the Cargo Catapult and Buddy Bot. Both will help you complete deliveries and quests faster. They are helpful tools that improve the pace of the game.

Should you play Death Stranding Director’s Cut?

Firing up this game felt like work after I’ve already done my work for the day. That just isn’t the experience I long for in games. But maybe, that’s just me.

I think most gamers know exactly what they want to play. But if you’re only now dipping your toes into Death Stranding Director’s Cut because you missed the first launch and you’re a Hideo Kojima fan, it’s definitely worth picking up. But my recommendation is to get the physical copy so you can flip it for cash as soon as you find that it’s not for you.

Death Stranding Director’s Cut is brilliant. However, it’s not for everybody.

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