Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal
Review by horror_spooky
"We know the drill"
When someone thinks about the great platformers to be released during the sixth generation, they usually think about games like Jak and Daxter, Super Mario Sunshine, Psychonauts, and, of course, Ratchet & Clank. The series was created by the same people who made the Spyro games, so you know there's got to be something good about it right off the bat. Well, Insomniac has created another classic series with Ratchet & Clank, and the third installment, Up Your Arsenal, is easily the best in the series.
While there isn't nearly as much platforming this time around, Up Your Arsenal still features some nice platforming sections with plenty there for any platformer fan to wallow in. Special gadgets enhance the platforming aspects of the game and are essential in making Up Your Arsenal the great game that it is. The gadgets do various things such as allow Ratchet to jump higher and the other, more interesting, gadgets, are necessary to solve some of the game's puzzles.
All of the awesome and hilarious weapons return this time around, so fans of the other games definitely won't be disappointed. These weapons are purchased in a similar fashion to the other games. The currency is bolts and you can buy these weapons are missions at the beginning of the levels. Of course, anyone who knows anything about the Ratchet & Clank series do know that Ratchet also has his trusty wrench at his disposal, so some melee combat is involved as well.
Sometimes it can be annoying assigning these weapons to the weapon wheel as there can only be so many weapons assigned to the wheel at once. This may prompt you to pause the game, switch a weapon around here or there, and that slows the down the otherwise fast-paced gameplay.
An awesome mechanic in Up Your Arsenal is the leveling up of your weapons, which is done by using them a lot. By upgrading your weapons they become even more awesome than they were before, and this added element helps Up Your Arsenal propel itself ahead of all of the other PlayStation 2 platformers that don't try to evolve the formula.
A huge part of the gameplay is a new arena where the focus is on round-based battles where you must kill as many robots as possible with special stipulations added. Sometimes you'll have to fight boss robots and other times your weapons switch randomly and without warning. This arena is actually pretty fun to play around in and can earn you a ton of extra bolts to buy the really cool and expensive weaponry.
Puzzles are more important this time around and while some of these puzzles, the most prominent being the hacking puzzles, are pretty entertaining and challenging, they can also be really irritating. They feel a little cheap and unpolished at times and even when you know the solution, you'll still have to grit your teeth and lose a bunch of times until luck just happens to allow you to complete the puzzle.
Clank is playable in Up Your Arsenal and he is used for Pikmin-esque puzzles where you have to control smaller robots and order them to do various things. While you can't shake the feeling that Insomniac totally ripped off Nintendo, this is still a fun gameplay mechanic no matter what game it is in. Clank can also perform various robot moves and there are some surprises in store for his gameplay segments that I'm sure you'll enjoy.
In order to progress through the game you'll have to collect these Vid Comics that are basically episodic video games that Clank loves. These Vid Comics are based on the Captain Qwark TV show in the game, so you get to play as the loveable oath Captain Qwark. These little mini-games are based on 2D platformers, with Qwark using a gun as his primary means of taking down enemies. You can collect various items throughout these stages and the game also will reward you with bolts and skill points.
Anyone who has played a Ratchet & Clank game know that these skill points are basically achievements. That's right Microsoft fan boys, the achievement system was in a Sony exclusive internally developed video game before the Xbox 360 was even released. I love this skill point system as it does add some replayability to the game. Also, you can earn trophies by completing some exceptionally challenging tasks.
Up Your Arsenal is the first Ratchet & Clank title to feature a multiplayer component. While having only two controller ports really does hamper the experience that could have been, but the game does support a somewhat weak online mode that supports more players. There are various modes to play on multiplayer and you can choose from a variety of different skins. The great weapons make an appearance as do some pretty cool vehicles, and the game feels like a third-person version of Halo's multiplayer.
Up Your Arsenal doesn't have a very engaging story, but it still has a decent one. Characters from the other games make appearances and there are some absolutely hilarious moments. There are plenty of pop culture references sprinkled through this tale of Ratchet and his trusty robotic friend Clank using the help of a new team put together by the rejuvenated Captain Qwark to stop an evil being named Dr. Nefarius who plans to destroy all organic life in the universe. You'll laugh and you'll be touched by this clever story that could probably be made into a movie easily.
Up Your Arsenal looks absolutely amazing. Some people have scorned the PlayStation 2 for being graphically inferior to the other sixth-generation systems, but this game proves that the PlayStation 2 has some hefty graphical power behind it. Characters look great and the environments look very nicely polished and will very rarely bore you. While there aren't very many glitches, there are some present in the game that can almost ruin the entire thing for you and it does have a tendency to freeze every once in a while, but these occurrences are rare.
Voice-acting is top notch in Up Your Arsenal, a rarity in a genre that usually has protagonists that can only say a select few words. The soundtrack is nice to listen to and all of the sounds synch up nicely. You definitely won't be disappointed here.
Up Your Arsenal takes a hell of a long time to complete, about fifteen to twenty hours I would say. That is pretty long for a game in its genre and during that whole time you'll never get bored with the gameplay. There are a ton of secrets to discover, trophies to unlock, skill points to achieve, and skins to unlock as well. With so much going on in this game that will consume hours upon hours, there can't possibly be more right? Wrong. The multiplayer feature, while it definitely isn't the greatest multiplayer around, is a welcome addition to the series and is still loads of fun despite its minor flaws due to the PlayStation 2's hardware limitations.
If you own a PlayStation 2 and haven't played a single game in the Ratchet & Clank series yet, you shouldn't even consider yourself a gamer. These games are quite possibly the greatest platform games released during the sixth generation and they revolutionize the genre in so many different ways such as adding weaponry as an integral part of the gameplay, awesome voice-acting, as well as a multiplayer mode that is similar to many popular multiplayer games today like Gears of War and Halo 3 (albeit with less violence). Up Your Arsenal is easily the best platform game released for the PlayStation 2 and is one of the best games released for the console period.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 06/30/08
Game Release: Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal (US, 11/03/04)
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