September 23, 2002

Ratchet & Clank - Preview

Release Date Publisher Developer Rating Players Price
8/11/2002SonyInsomniac Games1$99.95

Click To Enlarge Image
Taking it easy on the beach.
Before we begin this preview proper I want to tell you about the developer, Insomniac Games. A lot of you wouldn't have heard about them, but their games were among the best on PSOne. Their first title was Disruptor an entertaining First Person Shooter released in 1996. It was entertaining and is still one of the better FPS's on that system. However it was their next title that was to make the company one of Sony's premiere developers. The game Spyro The Dragon. One of the most colourful, entertaining and engrossing games on the PSOne. This was followed by two sequels, Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage and Spyro: Year of the Dragon both of which pushed the PSOne to it's absolute limits. When Sony approached Insomniac Games to work on the Playstation 2 many thought a 4th Spyro game would be in development. It is, but not by Insomniac who believe they had gone as far with the character as possible. They wanted something different, and Ratchet and Clank is it. It certainly is different, and the gameplay rocks.

Click To Enlarge Image
Attacking with the flam thrower.
Ratchet lives on a backwater world in an abandoned arm of a forgotten solar system. He is a young, self-taught mechanic who has a special knack for building and repairing things, and dreams of someday leaving his planet and striking out on a magnificent space adventure.

Off in a distant quadrant closer to the centre of the galaxy, Chairman Drek rules a polluted planet, Orxon, inhabited by an ugly race called the Blarg. He too has dreams, but his lie along the lines of conquest and domination. The Blarg are tired of their polluted world and as their leader, Chairman Drek has come up with the ultimate solution - to build a new planet using the best parts from many of the other worlds in the galaxy. He just has to convince the inhabitants of those planets to part with a few thousand hectares of their worlds - and if they can't be convinced, the army of robots and Blarg warriors, Chairman Drek has developed can eliminate any resistance.

Click To Enlarge Image
Sliding down the cable.
In one of the orbiting robot factories busy creating Chairman Drek's evil robot armies, a computer glitch creates a diminutive but brainy robot - Clank. Clank learns about Chairman Drek's plans and since he has a conscience, he flees the factory, seeking help. Unfortunately for Clank, the bad guys, equipped with heavily armed ships, shoot Clank's ship down over Ratchet's homeworld. From this moment on, Ratchet and Clank are forced together by circumstance, and the game follows them as they blast off from planet to planet through an extraordinary sci-fi universe. They'll encounter imaginative characters, and as they acquire a plethora of weapons and gadgets, they'll blow up everything that stands in their way as they uncover more and more of Chairman Drek's plans.

Click To Enlarge Image
Overlooking the landscape.
As you'd expect, with a rocket to your name and a vast and exciting sci-fi universe to explore, there are any number of exciting locations, ranging from beautiful ocean planets and giant alien metropolises to huge floating space stations. And, since each one is full of people out to get you, you'll be pleased to know that there's a vast range of weaponry at your disposal to help you fight back. You won't have them all at once, but by making use of the advanced economic system you can buy more and more powerful weapons as you progress through the adventure eventually finding enough guns, bombs and blasters to take on an army. Which is lucky, really, because that's what you'll be doing.

Click To Enlarge Image
Surrounded by enemies on the beach.
There are also any number of fancy vehicles and cool gadgets to help you in your mission, including Hoverboards and Magneboots - but one of the coolest of all is Clank himself. With the press of a button you can transform him into a thruster-pack, a hydropack and even a helipack, as the situation demands. In some locations, you'll even play as Clank, seeing the world from his robot point of view.

Click To Enlarge Image
There's clank taking it easy.
If you look at the surrounding screenshots you could be forgiven for thinking that this game is developed by Naughty Dog, the developers of 2001's hit game Jak & Daxter (which should be in ever PS2 owners collection). Indeed, there is much similarity between Ratchet and Daxter in visual terms. Insomniac have stated that although Naughty Dog and themselves share a game engine (hence the similarity in graphic style) there was absolutely no collaboration in the character design - it's just coincidence. After playing the game it's clear that Ratchet is a completely different character. Clank isn't without his charms either as he rides on Ratchet's back through most of the game.

Click To Enlarge Image
Full flame thrower ammo levels.
This Playstation 2 exclusive title includes over 35 different weapons and items each of which is unique and has a unique function. Ratchet also has over 20 standard moves that are learned through the game. The game's economic system requires gamers to frequently purchase gadgets infobots (clues to new levels), weapons and their respective ammunition Players have the option to spend their time collecting money to build up their inventory of weapons to eliminate the tougher enemies, or they can plough ahead with a minimal weapon selection, facing a more difficult time as they advance to later levels. Money is earned by destroying enemies, searching their surroundings and solving puzzles.

After playing a early demo of this game I can safely say that this game looks something special. The graphics are impressive, the gameplay intense, but most of all it's extremely enjoyable. This is one game you will want to keep a few dollars aside for. Expect a November release.