Ratchet & Clank 3: Up Your Arsenal - Review
|17/11/2004||Sony||Insomniac Games||1-4, 8 ||G8+||Medium|
Ahhhh... once again the Christmas season has swung around, and once again I’ve been blessed to have yet another Ratchet & Clank sequel keeping my PS2 well occupied. Some people would criticize Insomniac for releasing subsequent titles in the Ratchet & Clank series so shortly after one another, but through much hard work and sleepless nights (pardon the pun… it had to be done) they have made a sequel which isn’t just another clone from the same mould as one might expect. Instead Insomniac have taken the Ratchet & Clank mould, partly tweaking it and adding new bells and whistles, as well as making some bold new additions. At the core, you can see where they have come from with the familiar core mechanics from Ratchet & Clank 2: Locked & Loaded, yet there are enough changes and improvements made to the game to make it stand on its own two feet. If you’re feeling lazy and this review looks awful long, I’ll sum it up right here; Ratchet & Clank 3 is a top game whether you’ve played the previous titles or not, worthy of a spot in all PS2 game collections.
|Flying towards the enemies.|
For those unfamiliar with the Ratchet & Clank titles (shame on you!), Ratchet is the cat-like creature who you control for the majority of the game. Clank is his sidekick smartypants robot that spends the majority of the game attached to Ratchet’s back. In the time that has passed since the end of Locked & Loaded, Clank has become quite the television star in a Bond-like action thriller on television (where Ratchet has drawn the short straw and ended up as Clank’s chauffeur). But just as life is starting to settle down, all isn’t well in the universe… the robotic super-villain Dr Nefarious has concocted an evil plan to wipe out all organic life in the galaxy by manipulating the Tyhrranoid alien race. So, being the superheroes of the game, Ratchet & Clank are summoned by the Galactic President to attempt to bring peace to the universe once again.
Ratchet & Clank 3 begins with your typical yet intuitive running-tutorial, where as you encounter obstacles and enemies you are taught the various skills required to overcome them. The controls are essentially the same as those in earlier Ratchet & Clank titles, so fans of the series will have no problems adjusting themselves here. You’ll find yourself traversing the levels setting out after a certain objective or three (usually beating a heap of ‘baddies’ to retrieve ‘something’), often with branching mission paths and extra optional levels which you can return to in order to boost your stats or chase the elusive 100% completion of the game.
|Blasting the enemy.|
Weapons are back and more numerous than before, each with individual ‘experience’ points that enable them to upgrade as you use them more and more. Using lower-experienced weapons simply to level-up is a handy way of spreading your usage of different weapons (so you don’t just hog the powerful ones). Ammo limitations too mean that certain stages in the game will require you to have multiple weapon types levelled-up, so that once you’re finished whipping the close-range enemies you’ll need to electrocute the remaining ones. Owners of Locked & Loaded will be glad to hear that their saved game will come in handy here; certain weapons from this title can be imported in to your Ratchet & Clank 33 save game!
Ratchet & Clank 3 is just so big and engulfing though; while you can blast right through it and simply complete the story, you’re more than likely going to want to stop for a while and sniff the roses. The level design and views are often breathtaking, and the more often you stop to appreciate it, the more chance you have of spotting secret hidden locations of weapons caches and platinum bolts. Gameplay isn’t isolated to exploring and shooting either, being mixed up with several additional mini-game-like features found throughout; my favourite being the Qwark vid-comics.
Qwark vid-comics are cartridges which are collected as part of the storyline throughout the game, and can then be used on your VG-9000 videogame system aboard the command ship. The vid-comic mini-game is a *very* addictive 2d platformer starring Captain Qwark, the favourite superhero from the earlier Ratchet & Clank games. If you can imagine a platformer where Castlevania meets Toy Story, you’re halfway there to experiencing how well Insomniac has done. Hey, if they sold this the vid-comics as a separate game altogether, I know I’d have little hesitation in rushing out and grabbing a copy; it’s plain and simple old-school platformer gold.
|Some of the awesome visuals.|
If that wasn’t enough, what makes Ratchet & Clank 3 really shine above Locked & Loaded is the addition of multiplayer; and it fits in so well with the game that you’d wonder how it ever did without it. There are 3 primary multiplayer game modes; deathmatch and capture the flag (which are both self-explanatory), and siege. Siege takes a page from Unreal Tournament 2004’s (the PC game) book; you have several bases located around the map which must be occupied by either team on your quest to the opposition’s base. Multiplayer isn’t limited to squinting at a split screen however (though with the multi-tap it is extremely fun!); up to 8-players can battle it out online using the network adapter. Furthermore, to Sony’s credit, there are dedicated Australian servers which keep a tab of your online gaming stats as well as any clans you are affiliated with! Brilliant!
The graphics in Ratchet & Clank 3 are jaw dropping eye candy from the moment you begin. The levels manage to be rich and full of colour no matter what the location; whether they are a swampy marsh or hot rocks bordering a lava flow. Particle and lighting effects are included in droves, and rarely threaten to drop the silky smooth frame-rate… even during large fire-fights. The screenshots look fantastic, and the characters movements and transitions are seamless; like they’ve been ripped straight from a Pixar studios film. If you have any uncertainties about the visuals, forget them now. Visually, Ratchet & Clank 3 is just about the best you will get on the Playstation 2.
|4-player split screen action.|
To complete the audio-visual experience in Ratchet & Clank 3, Insomniac has bettered their previous efforts with a new array of effects and musical scores. The background varies according to the surroundings, more often than not being strange funky elevator-music hybrids (which suits the style of the game perfectly). All conversations in the game are completely voice-overed by high-quality voice actors (rather than the cheap imitations that crop up in certain other games). The acting coupled with the exquisite character expressions during the cut-scenes really gives the characters (both major and minor) a true personality to them. On the topic of sound, it’s worth nothing too that the USB headset is supported in online mode for chat both in the lobby as well as in-game. It’s one of the many nice little touches to the game which collectively make a great game fantastic.
Ratchet & Clank 3 holds strong with the “if it ain’t broke; don’t fix it” mentality; while they haven’t ‘fixed’ anything with the game per se, they have improved on the strong points of Locked & Loaded as well as adding an extra dimension to the game via multiplayer. The game world is large and will take a few days to finish, and much longer to find all the bolts and secrets; given the awards and unlockables that you’re likely to discover along the way, you’d be crazy not to. Be sure not to dismiss Ratchet & Clank 3 as just ‘more of the same’, as it is a mighty fine game that deserves to be in everyone’s collection.
Review By: Chris Gobbett
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|GRAPHICS||It’s pure eye candy; no artificial sweeteners here.||95%|
|SOUND||Voices, music and effects are top grade as you’d expect.||91%|
|GAMEPLAY||Same core engine, with some extra tweaks and additions .||92%|
|VALUE||A huge single player campaign with online and split-screen multiplayer; you couldn’t ask for more.||96%|
|OVERALL||Ratchet & Clank 3 is an excellent game which takes a mix of the platformer, action and adventure genres. It’s addictive fun from the outset, and matures as you progress to keep you hooked. Buy/hire/borrow/grab a copy now... NOW!||96%|