-Console: Playstation 2
-ESRB Rating: Teen
-Genre: Action/ Platformer
– #Of Players: 1
-Published by: Insomniac Games
– Memory card usage: 350kb
– #Of Disks: 1
An action platformer can suffer from all kinds of flaws especially if genres are mixed together. Luckily with Ratchet and Clank, everything comes together to make an awesome game and a great start to the series.
The game’s story puts players into the role of Ratchet, a Lombax, who is trying to see the universe. Clank the robot ends up crash landing on his planet requesting his help to find the legendary hero Captain Quark that can save the universe from the evil Drek. Since Ratchet needs a robot to help him pilot his ship they agree to team up together. The game’s story is not particularly deep, but it does a great job keeping gamers interested in what they are trying to do. Scenes are filled with humor but manage to keep their seriousness, making the whole experience a compelling one. The length of the story mode is just right as well, not ending too quickly, or wearing out its welcome.
All of the voice-overs are done perfectly. It is simply a pleasure hearing everyone speak. Characters are perfectly fleshed out, and filled with enthusiasm. None of the voices are annoying. All of the talents are perfectly matched to their roles.
Most of the music is techno. Though there are changes during more dramatic moments. The synthesized music fits the game well, it has a tendency to simply fade away, only coming out when you stop to take a look around or plot your next move.
The graphics are on par with other platformers on the system. Locations are populated and colorful. Insomniac Games’ artistic staff deserves credit for creating so many beautifully diverse backgrounds. Every area is different from another, and manages to achieve a perfect balance of nature and technology. The drive to see what is just ahead never dies. Cutscenes are also done just as well. All of the character models are expressive and keep gamers enthralled. Each time one plays, it is a treat to watch.
Also graphically, this game does some many interesting things. Though personally, the magnetboots sections became nauseating at times, being able to walk along the side of a building and have the camera give a behind the back view was really nice touch. The difference in scale in the few levels that Clank solely participates in also provides an extra layer of realism.
The effects are nice, and explosions are pretty. Most of the time the game moves at a pretty smooth speed. Though there are occasional times when slowdown occurs, especially after a group of enemies die at the same time and their carcasses explode in a shower of bolts, the game’s currency.
The gameplay mixes many genres, and does a great job of spacing out different kinds of objectives. Each experience, whether it takes place jumping across a series of ledges to find a new hidden area, or shooting down enemies in the space ship dog fights manages to feel familiar, but much better than you remembered. The game even manages to make the stealth sequences interesting. Infiltrating areas using the hologuise put a new spin onto an aging experience. Even though it is challenging, the difficulty never becomes unfair. Checkpoints are spaced frequently enough so death isn’t as big of a threat in other games. Only in the last few areas will you find yourself doing some serious backtracking after a mishap.
The weapons are wonderful and creative, and most have their own unique uses in the game. From the Decoy Glove that places an inflatable doll of Ratchet that all of the enemies chase after, to the Morph o’ Ray that turns enemies into chickens, all are interesting. Going though a tough area, using some of the more creative weapons provide for many interesting moments. The feeling of accomplishment after setting a trap and watching it come to fruition is exponentially more enjoyable than going in and just blowing everything up, even though that is really fun too.
The game does a great job of teaching gamers how to play. Also if a player misses out on a help update, there is an area in the pause menu that chronicles all of the updates, and how each of the gadgets and weapons work. Also every area has a detailed map that can be accessed at any time that shows objectives, and at a later time, hidden areas for extra exploration. Since the levels do branch out into multiple paths, and getting lost would be really easy without them, it is a welcome addition. I only wish that there could have been more of the other areas, where some of the other objectives, like the fighter jet segments, or Giant Clank areas took place.
Upon completing the game players will be given a choice of going back to the beginning with all of the weapons and bolts that they have acquired. By going through the game again, players will also be rewarded with the ability to level up some of their weapons to the Gold level. Gold weapons sport drastic improvements over their regular counterparts, like increased power and added effects. However getting some of the better weapons costs a lot of bolts, so gamers will find themselves spending extra time trying to get all of them.
Also players can gain extra goodies by finding all of the skill points and gold bolts necessary for the weapon upgrades hidden throughout the each of the levels. By passing these hidden objectives like shooting down a certain number of spacecrafts that are flying by in the sky, players can unlock an art gallery with creator comments and other great things.
Final Score: 9/10
Ratchet and Clank is a great game. With an interesting story, good graphics and unique gameplay that will push the genre as a whole forward, it is very impressive. The game is a welcome change to the norm in platforming. If gamers haven’t taken the dive into current gen platforming, this game will be a great place to start.
By Plumbum Sol