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December 12, 2005
Ratchet: Gladiator - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
24/11/2005SonyInsomniac Games1-4, 10 PGVariable
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen

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Graphics are still nice.
Developer Insomniac has struck gold with its Ratchet and Clank series of games on the Playstation 2. The trilogy of platformers have not only sold very well they have been games of the highest caliber, with giving them scores of 92, 95 and 96 for each of the three games. They have been some of the best platform games seen in this generation of consoles and the series has a huge fan base. So when Insomniac announced that the fourth game would be quite a departure from the other games in the series, fans began to question their logic. Are the fans fears justified or have Insomniac once again delivered the goods?

The story to Ratchet Gladiator picks up right where Up Your Arsenal left off. Ratchet and Clank are on their new space ship when they get ambushed and captured by thugs hired by Gleeman Vox the owner of the Vox television network. We then find out that Gleeman makes most of his money from a TV gladiator style show called the Dread Zone which is reminiscent of classic Arnie flick "The Running Man". Ratchet is forced to compete in the tournament or Gleeman will trigger the explosive collar he has put on Ratchet. So the only way for Ratchet to get rid of the collar and get his freedom back is by beating every challenge that Gleeman Vox throws at him. Some familiar characters from previous games make an appearance like Courtney Gears, but that is about the only reference made to the earlier titles. You gather new information about your next opponents by watching Vox sports news, which is pretty amusing and cut scenes featuring Gleeman. Sadly you donít get too much input from Clank this time out which is a shame.

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Nice explosion!
The game takes quite a turn in the gameplay stakes from the previous games in the series. There is very little actual platforming to be done here. It is now a squad based blast em up. Ratchet is put on a planet and pretty much just shoots everything in site. The game does still have a few things in common with the previous games, you get to control vehicles, collect bolts and upgrade your weapons. In fact upgrading your weapons is now even better than before, you still improve your weapons by constantly using them to build up your experience which gains you alpha mods, but now you can also earn omega mods which add things like acid and lightning attacks to your weapons. There are only ten weapons on offer but they are all pretty cool the Fusion Rifle, Magma Cannon, Dual Vipers and the B-6 Obliterator being amongst them.

You also have two bots that join Ratchet in battle and they can be issued orders by pressing the D Pad. You can get them to throw grenades to knock down enemy shields or to work on undoing locks while you take out the enemies. The types of challenges on offer should be familiar to most players; they are pretty much deathmatch, capture the flag or survival. To advance in the game you must battle through each planets challenges and earn enough Dread zone points to unlock a new world to compete in. To get these points you have to complete mini games like racing around a track in the various vehicles in a time limit or killing a certain number of enemies in a certain time. With all the bolts you collect you can also buy new equipment and gear for Ratchet and his bots, things like new weapons, upgrades and new suits are all available for purchase.

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Atatacking in the skies.
Ratchet Gladiator really shines as a multiplayer experience whether itís online or offline. Offline two players can play through the game in co op mode which is quite a bit of fun. Taking the game online is also pretty cool as this game was really designed for 8 people to get in the game and start blasting each other. Just like the single player game though the options are quite limited, but they are still enjoyable. If you are after a solid multiplayer game you could do a lot worse than this game.

For me, Ratchet Gladiator does not stand up that well to previous games in the series. I found the games biggest flaw to be that it was quite repetitive. It really is just blasting everything in site. I much preferred the previous games with there platforming and adventure elements as they were more entertaining than just running around shooting everything. There are also no opportunities to control Clank in his own missions like previous games.

Visually the game looks very nice indeed. With its bright colors and lush looking world and characters Ratchet Gladiator is one of the better looking games around. The only slight problem is when things get chaotic onscreen (which is often especially later on in the game) there is some noticeable slow down.

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2-player split screen.
The sounds of the game are also fantastic. The voice acting is superb and as in previous games the dialogue is very humorous. The characters all have there own unique sounds with my favorite being Shellshock who sounded just like Arnold Schwarzenegger. The only thing I didnít like about the sounds was the commentator in the game; he often repeats himself and can get quite annoying.

Overall Ratchet Gladiator is a very solid game but I found it to lack the magic spark that made previous games in the series so special. Donít get me wrong the game is quite a lot of fun to play but the fun does wear out, especially in single player. If you like shooting games or good multiplayer games then this game is definitely worth checking out, if however you are expecting another classic platforming game then you may be a touch disappointed by the games new direction.

Review By: Graham Darko

Order your copy now from Gameswarehouse (PAL version) or Amazon (NTSC Version).
GRAPHICSSuperb looking graphics with bright and colorful characters and worlds. Only slight slowdown brings it down a notch.
SOUNDFantastic voice acting is among the best and most humorous around.
GAMEPLAYRatchet Gladiator is quite a standard blast a thon that is quite a departure for the series. A solid experience that can wear thin after extended play.
VALUESingle player is quite short and the game can get repetitive. Multi player provides the meat to this games bones.
OVERALLRatchet Gladiator is a solid game that does not quite reach the high standards of the series. Still itís a good game especially in multi player.

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