Ratchet & Clank

Ratchet & Clank

Written by Charlie Sinhaseni on 11/28/2002 for PS2  
More On: Ratchet & Clank
Take two highly marketable characters, place them in huge and expanse worlds, toss in a few weapons and what do you get? You get one hell of an action platformer, so is it any surprise that Insomniac’s Ratchet and Clank kicks so much ass? I don’t think so.

Simply put R&C is one of the year’s best surprises. It literally came out of left field to take the gaming press by storm at this year’s E3 and hasn’t looked back. Featuring massive array of explosive weapons and gadgets, the game takes the action platformer genre to a whole new level.

The premise of the game is simple, acquire weapons, aim at target and blow them to smithereens. Yes the game gets far more complex than that and it actually includes (gasp!) a strong and coherent storyline but does it really matter when you’ve got a weapon called the Rip Ya a New One?

In short you’re Ratchet, the furry little mechanic who has been stamped with the unfortunate task of saving the universe. When the adventure begins a mysterious robot crash lands nearby. Ratchet picks him up and christens him Clank so thus we have the two main characters and the title of our game, Ratchet & Clank. You set out on a quest to warn Captain Quark (the universe’s resident super hero) about the impending evils. The story unfolds via sequences of pre-rendered and engine rendered sequences that really show off the humor of the design team. The characters animate, gesture and articulate just as you would expect. There’s a lot of personality to each and every individual character and it really shines through.

While it’s not immediately apparent Clank actually serves more purpose than dead weight on Ratchet’s back. As you progress he’ll be able to gain upgrades like propeller blades that can help Ratchet glide across huge gaps. There are also some sequences where Clank will jump off of Ratchet’s back for some exploration. But who cares, we all know what you’re here for, the weapons!

As if the hilarious marketing campaign hasn’t tipped you off to it yet, the main attraction of the game are the weapons. This game’s got some doozys, like the aforementioned R.Y.N.O. that makes the BFG look like a sissy peashooter. Of course you’ve got the gun that turns your enemies into chickens, a glove that allows you to throw bombs and your usual garden-variety flamethrower. Then there are the gadgets, cool things like the swingshot (think of a grappling hook), the grind boots that allow you to grind along rails and the taunter which allows you to agitate your opponents in style. There are about 40 weapons and gadgets for you to tinker with in all, each of which exude their own luster and charm.
The secondary attraction of the game is the monstrosity of the levels. From the moment you step into the game world you’ll feel like an insignificant little bug. The sheer scope of things is just massive, sometimes you can see certain areas off in the horizon that will take you upwards of 20 or 30 minutes to travel to. I’m talking huge here, you’ll go up skyscrapers, down tunnels, into sewers, on space stations, you name it. Best of all each of the levels are very well designed and ooze of quality, everything just looks and feels like it fits in with the current world.

I also enjoyed the rest of the game’s visuals. The main characters are very well designed and animate quite nicely. The enemies seemed to have received a lot of attention as well. As mentioned above the game worlds are huge and even more impressive, there is absolutely no draw in. The rendering technique seems to have been borrowed from last year’s excellent hit, Jak and Daxter. Each weapon also features some impressive effects that really appeal to the senses. In short, this is one impressive looking game that will appeal to not only the younger crowd, but also the older gamers.

The sounds are also quite nice as this game features some of the better voice acting that you’ll encounter in a video game. I especially enjoyed the interaction between Ratchet and Clank and while Ratchet’s personality is quite flat, Clank for some reason really reminds me of the pet robot from that cartoon Invader Zim. The rest of the game’s actions are accompanied by equally competent effects that sound quite believable. I even found the music to be enjoyable in the way that it helps accompany the action without being too distracting.

I’m not quite sure that this game will be accessible to everyone as it is quite difficult. You’ll have four orbs that serve as your health, breaking specific crates allows you to replenish your health but there is a problem with the damage system. After an enemy hits you there is no moment of invulnerability. If you’re overwhelmed by the enemy you can basically kiss your arse goodbye. This makes the game much more difficult than it has to be and even then, the game is quite difficult on its own. You’re given respawn points but they’re not very forgiving. Each world has about one or two respawn points and as mentioned above, some of them can take about 20 to 30 minutes to progress through. Can you imagine having to start over after having evaded enemies and traps for the better part of 20 minutes?

Why should you buy Ratchet when the market already includes other excellent titles like Sly Cooper, Haven, and Treasure Planet? Simple, the game is one hell of an adventure that not only looks great, but plays great as well. The action is excellent and when you’re playing the game, you really get the feeling that the designers took their time to craft the amazing worlds. Nearly every facet of the game exudes the type of polish and shine that is present in a “game of the year” candidate. While it may not quite reach that plateau, it sure as hell won’t go down without a fight.

Having trouble ripping the galaxy a new one? Gaming Nexus recommends that you pick up Prima Games' excellent strategy guide that will help ease you through the process. Sure you'll be less manly, but we won't tell anyone.
Insomniac proves once and for all that you can in fact teach an old dog some new tricks. Ratchet & Clank is one of the year's best surprises that just won't disappoint.

Rating: 9.3 Excellent

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.

About Author

Gaming has been a part of my life for as long as I could remember. I can still recall many a lost nights spent playing Gyromite with that stupid robot contraption for the old NES. While I'm not as old as the rest of the crew around these parts, I still have a solid understanding of the heritage and the history of the video gaming industry.

It's funny, when I see other people reference games like Doom as "old-school" I almost begin to cringe. I bet that half of these supposed "old-school" gamers don't even remember classic games like Rise of the Triad and Commander Keen. How about Halloween Harry? Does anyone even remember the term "shareware" anymore? If you want to know "old-school" just talk to John. He'll tell you all about his favorite Atari game, Custer's Revenge.

It's okay though, ignorance is bliss and what the kids don't know won't hurt them. I'll just simply smile and nod the next time someone tells me that the best entry in the Final Fantasy franchise was Final Fantasy VII.

When I'm not playing games I'm usually busy sleeping through classes at a boring college in Southern Oregon. My current hobbies are: writing songs for punk rock bands that never quite make it, and teasing Bart about... well just teasing Bart in general. I swear the material writes itself when you're around this guy. He gives new meaning to the term "moving punching bag."

As for games, I enjoy all types except those long-winded turn-based strategy games. I send those games to my good pal Tyler, I hear he has a thing for those games that none of us actually have the time to play.

When I'm not busy plowing through a massive pile of video games I spend all of my time trying to keep my cute little girl fed. She eats a ton but damn she's so hot. Does anyone understand the Asian girl weight principal? Like they'll clean out your fridge yet still weigh less than 110 pounds.

Currently I'm playing: THUG, True Crime, Prince of Persia, Project Gotham 2 and Beyond Good & Evil. View Profile

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