Ratchet and Clank: Size Matters


posted 3/9/2007 by Cyril Lachel
other articles by Cyril Lachel
One Page Platforms: PSP
The weapons themselves are all very crazy and exciting … even if they aren't as effective as you wished they would be. You start out with a laser gun-style weapon (called a Lacerator), but quickly you'll be able to buy everything from an Acid Bomb Glove to a Bee Mine Glove to a flame thrower (Incinerator) to this crazy gun called a Suck Cannon. And those aren't even the craziest weapons you'll earn, I won't spoil all of them but needless to say you'll probably seek out enemies just to experiment around with some of the more outrageous weapons.
The problem is that not all of the weapons are all that useful. Chances are you'll be using the Electro Rocket gun and standard Lacerators (which you can upgrade to Dual Lacerators) more than just about anything else, simply because these two weapons are the most powerful and easy to use. Some of the weapons feel like they should be effective but just aren't. The Concussion Gun is a good example of this, when you fire it the bullets go in several directions but never quite connects with the enemies. After several tries I ended up just giving up on this weapon and moved back to my tried and true rockets. In the long run this isn't much of a problem; I would rather have a game that gives me too many choices than a game that doesn't give me enough.
While it's fun to talk about the weapons (for obvious reasons), it's worth mentioning the way Size Matters handles the armor. As you progress through the game you will earn and find new pieces of armor, be it a new set of gloves, a new helmet, body armor or boots. You can mix and match this armor to give you specific defense against specific enemies and obstacles. But that's not all, the armor also affects your standard wrench attack. For example, if you equip the wildfire armor your wrench weapon will start to flame and become a little stronger. You won't have to find all of the pieces of armor in the game, but it is fun to experiment around and see how each of the pieces affects our heroes.
One of the biggest hurdles High Impact Games had to jump when turning the console game into a handheld experience was the controls. Anybody who has played the series on the PlayStation 2 knows that just about every face button and analog stick is used for something, which meant that the people developing this PSP game had to cut some corners. High Impact Games has come up with two different answers to the control problem, neither of which is quite perfect. The default style requires you to fiddle with the camera by using the left and right shoulder buttons. The other camera style is a little more hands-off, it does its best to try to stay behind you at all times, making it so you won't have to deal with the camera that much. I personally preferred the default style, I had no problem manually controlling the camera and I didn't find that it hurt my experience at all. Like I said, neither of these solutions is quite perfect, but they get the job done … for the most part.
The game itself isn't very long, you'll probably be able to bust through it in no more than seven or eight hours. Thankfully there's a lot of incentive for you to go through it a second time, especially if you want to find every weapon and use all of the armor. Once you've beaten the game you will be able to play the campaign mode a second time through on a higher difficulty. It would have been nice to see this game go a little longer, but Size Matters' length is on par with what you get from the PlayStation 2 titles, so I guess I can't complain too much.
When you're done playing around in the single-player mode you can move on to one of the several multiplayer modes. While I love the idea of PSP games offering online multiplayer modes and I am willing to give Sony/High Impact Games full credit for trying, Ratchet & Clank has never been a great online experience. That doesn't mean you can't have fun with the several modes that are available, but I doubt you'll be sending too much time playing this online shooter when you could be playing SOCOM: Fire Team Bravo 2 or Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops.
The multiplayer modes include the standard deathmatch and capture the flag, as well as a game called Iron Lombax. Iron Lombax is somewhat unusual because the way you play is determined by location you select. For example, if you choose Island Escape you will be racing to collect power cells and delivering them to your power generator. By contrast, if you play Mega Cannons you will be capturing generators to power your Mega Cannon. Once you've managed to do this task you will be able to use your cannon and blow up your enemy's cannon. Some of these modes are mildly entertaining, but they are more of a diversion than anything else. Having said that, I'm glad that Sony is experimenting with online multiplayer modes, I hope that this is a sign of things to come.
When it comes right down to it Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters is the first great PSP game of the year, it's full of memorable characters, fantastic level designs and enough pure action to keep just about everybody entertained. While High Impact Games has been forced to make a few changes to the camera and control they should be commended for their effort, as this is a rock solid game that should be in everybody's library. If you're a fan of the series then you're going to find a lot to love in this portable game, and even if you're new to the franchise you'll still find an incredibly fun 3D platformer that is a little different from the Mario's and Jax games. Don't let the platform and name fool you, Size Matters may be small but it's full of big excitement.

High Impact Games should be commended for their brilliant job of taking the console experience and turning it into something incredible for the PSP. With an original story, memorable characters and plenty of great action, Size Matters is a fantastic way to start off what promises to be an incredible year for video games.

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