Ratchet and Clank: Size Matters

Review

posted 3/9/2007 by Cyril Lachel
other articles by Cyril Lachel
One Page Platforms: PSP
A year ago Sony surprised everybody with Daxter, one of the most impressive 3D platforming games ever released on a handheld game system. With its amazing graphics, easy game play and inventive levels, Daxter was not only one of the best PSP games released in 2006 but one of the best platformers of the past few years. Now Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters is here to give Daxter a run for his money, and if this game is any indication then 2007 is going to be a fantastic year for Sony's portable game system.
 
Size Matters marks Ratchet & Clank's first time off of the PlayStation 2, but that shouldn't worry you, because everything you've come to love about the long-running series makes an appearance in this handheld game. What's more, while the PlayStation 2 games have become darker and increasingly violent, this PSP game feels like a return to form. Fans of the original Ratchet & Clank games will no doubt be happy to see that Size Matters is more about platforming and comedy.
 
It all starts with our heroes Ratchet and Clank taking a much-needed vacation on a tropical planet. Before the two characters can even begin to relax they are hounded by a young girl named Luna who seems to know exactly who they are, she wants to take pictures of them doing heroic stuff so that she can impress people. Who are Ratchet and Clank to decline? Unfortunately while they are beating up all of the robots in colorful clothing Luna is kidnapped and so our adventure begins.
 
In true Ratchet & Clank fashion our heroes are forced to go from one planet to another in search of this young girl and her captives. But not all is what it appears and Luna has a few secrets of her own. Without giving too much away, the story in Size Matters is surprisingly good, it's full of memorable characters, witty dialog and some twists and turns you might not see coming. Better yet, the way the story influences the level designs is refreshing, especially since you aren't always dealing with obvious level variations.
 
The name Size Matters is more than just a double entendre, it also has a lot to do with the actions in the game. The game is full of moments where you'll shrink down to the size of an insect or turn into a massive Godzilla-sized character. While this is really nothing more than a gimmick, there's little denying that it works in the context of the story and does a good job of setting this apart from all of the other Ratchet & Clank games.
 
The size gimmick isn't the only thing that's new to this series. For the first time ever players are given a chance to play as Ratchet's mechanical sidekick, Clank. But don't get too excited, outside of a few moments when you're solving puzzles or trying to escape a Battle Bots-style garbage dump you won't actually be using him too much. But don't let me be too negative about Clank's participation; there is one moment in the game when you'll be happy to step into his metallic shoes. That moment comes mid-way through the game when the entire experience turns into a strange 3D space shooter starring Clank. You control this section much like you would any other 3D air combat game (such as Star Fox, After Burner, etc.), only you are playing a gigantic version of Clank and dodging asteroids and other space robots. This section is thrilling, but it's over far too early.
 
Despite the few moments when you play (and pilot) Clank, much of the game play in Size Matters feels similar to that of past Ratchet & Clank entries. The game is still an engaging mix of crazy weapons, bright levels and exciting platforming action. Everything that made you love the series on the PlayStation 2 is front and center on the PSP, from the great voice acting to the bizarre weapons you can pick up to the insane bosses you will have to fight. It may not be developed by Insomniac, but Size Matters manages to get the look and feel of the Ratchet & Clank series down. In fact, I would go as far as to say that this game is actually more enjoyable than the previous two PlayStation 2 games, which bodes well for Sony's handheld game system.
 
If you've played the previous games before then you already know that neither Ratchet nor Clank is the real star of this series, this franchise is all about the weapons. You'll be happy to know that Size Matters offers just as many over-the-top weapons as ever before, even going as far as to add a few new ones. Although you can only choose from eight weapons at a time, there is a total of thirteen weapons and eight special items you can buy and/or earn along the way. Each of these weapons can also be upgraded, the more you use the weapon the more "experience" your weapon will have, until finally it gets upgraded to level 2 or 3. Upgrading your weapon means that you will be able to pack around more ammo and your weapon will be a little stronger and more effective. This is probably the most RPG-like element in the game, but it's a nice addition and will push you to use each of your weapons to see what their next level is.
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