Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal
Review by Bluegreen17
"An Essential Addition to Your PS2 Collection"
As the third game in a platformer/third person shooter series that encourages the player to blow $#&% up', Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal, released by Insomniac Games in 2004, might be described as an explosion of fun, or perhaps an explosion of perfection. This game (along with the previous two Ratchet & Clank games) is among the masterpieces that every single PlayStation 2 owner should have, lest they miss out on one of the most fun and enjoyable experiences that your PS2 can provide.
Story and Writing:
In Up Your Arsenal, we continue to follow the adventures of Ratchet the Lombax (a lynx-wombat-like alien) and Clank the robot after the events of the first two games have made them intergalactic superheroes. (Don't worry: it would be best if you played the Ratchet & Clank games in order, but it's not mandatory.) Anyway, Ratchet and Clank are doing nothing in particular, when a newscast shows Ratchet's home planet under attack. After they save it, they find that, in order to save the Solana galaxy yet again, they have to defeat the nefarious Dr. Nefarious, who wants to rule the galaxy (and who doesn't?).
This game was unbelievably well written. The sci-fi storyline is clever, exciting and suspenseful, and the dialogue and cutscenes are absolutely hilarious. They are genuinely funny, and I can almost guarantee that you've never heard a lot of these jokes before. All but the most cold-hearted individuals will laugh constantly as they play. You may even gasp occasionally (as I did) as an exciting and dramatic plot twist occurs. Wait a minute, hilarious and exciting at the same time? Yes, Insomniac Games can pull it off, and they do so with flying colors.
Graphics and Camera:
Up Your Arsenal may be among the most gorgeous games on the PlayStation 2. Every single thing in this game is perfectly animated, and the graphics have been done perfectly a dash cartoony, with excellent textures and lively colors. As you look around the many varied levels, you see aircrafts and such zipping overhead, enemies gesturing threateningly at you (and shooting at you, of course), and all sorts of other things happening at once and I have never seen this game slow down, freeze, or have framerate problems. Every planet, from a spaceport to cities to a jungle to an underwater base, is vibrant and alive, and it draws you in.
The camera is fantastic. It sits the perfect distance from the player character, it moves very well, and I have never died due to the camera acting up.
Controls and Gameplay:
There's a lot to do in Up Your Arsenal, and I mean a lot. Most of the time, you play as Ratchet while Clank rides on a harness on Ratchet's back. Ratchet can strafe, thwack things with his OmniWrench, and jump agilely with Clank's help Clank can pop a propeller out of his head, allowing Ratchet to jump, flip, and glide. Ratchet is very easy to control; the button scheme is complex yet easy to memorize, and Ratchet moves very fluidly and stops on a dime.
However, the main attraction when you play as Ratchet is that you get to play with one of the series' main components: the crazy arsenal. There are over thirty weapons and gadgets in this game, and no two are alike! You have your more basic weapons, such as a bomb thrower, a rapid-fire pistol, and a large rocket launcher. Then, you have more bizarre weapons. These include a weapon that launches globs of stuff that make your enemies attack each other, a glove that releases small adorable robots that destroy things, and a gun that shoots small black holes that suck up bad guys. You have so many different toys, it's a delight to try each new one out and see how much you like it. For your favorite weapons and gadgets, you can open the menu and place them in your Quick Select, a small display that pops up when you hold down the triangle button. The Quick Select allows you to switch weapons on the fly, which is particularly helpful in the heat of battle. It is a very clever mechanic, and it works fabulously.
If you get tired of blowing things up all day, don't fret there are many, many other things to do in this game. It's likely that the first alternate activity you'll find is one of the Qwark Vid-Comics. Here, you'll have to play a video game starring the superhero' Captain Qwark (Yes, it's a video game inside a video game sweet.) These levels are played from a 2D side perspective, and Qwark can punch, jump and shoot.
Next, there's Annihilation Nation, a friendly' arena competition in which you can do two different things for bolts (in-game money) and prizes: the obstacle course, and the combat arena. In the obstacle course, you have to progress through a course, dodging fire traps, destroying enemies, and evading laser beams. An interesting detail of this is that there's only one main course, but each challenge uses different parts of it, so each challenge takes a unique path. This is an excellent example of the care and cleverness of design that went into this game.
When you decide to attempt one of Annihilation Nation's arena challenges, you often simply have to defeat X waves of enemies. However, there are also many variations on this sleeping gas rounds, where you have to win before your health is completely drained, single weapon challenges, and rotating weapon challenges. Some events are even combinations of these! And then, if you're up for it, two special challenges become available as you progress through the story one with 50 rounds, and one with 100 rounds. The 100 round event in particular is likely the ultimate test of your prowess in this game.
Another thing you can try is the battle missions. Only available on certain planets, these missions have various objectives that you and a group of computer-controlled Galactic Rangers have to complete. Most missions either involve fighting on foot, as usual, or piloting a vehicle. The vehicles are a dune buggy and a hovership, and they are extremely fun to use, particularly when you begin thinking up clever things to do with them, like running over and destroying enemies by running them over.
I know it sounds like all of these activities are just variations on blowing stuff up', but blowing stuff up in this game is so much fun, and so varied due to your arsenal, that you're not even going to care. Besides, there are more intellectual challenges in Up Your Arsenal as well, like when you play as Clank. Clank, being a very intelligent robot, can give orders to smaller robots, known as Gadgebots. These little guys can do four things: wait, follow, enter ports, and attack enemies. Utilizing Clank's and the Gadgebots' abilities, you have to solve puzzles, circumvent obstacles, and progress through the levels.
There are many other little things to do as well, like Giant Clank combat, in which Clank becomes very big and proceeds to punch and shoot large enemies. There's also the Tyhrraguise, which involves pushing the controller's buttons with the right timing and getting funny results when you mess up. You can also collect hidden optional items, like special bolts that let you buy alternate skins, trophies, and Skill Points, which you earn for doing particularly awesome things while you play.
And of course, there are also boss battles in Up Your Arsenal. These, like everything else, have been very well done. One boss battle, about a third of the way through, occurs to me in particular; I'm not going to spoil it for you, but it feels epic and almost cinematic.
This game even has a multiplayer mode, for local or online play. Four players in local mode and eight players in online mode can team up against each other, or have a free for all on one of several different areas, all of which are different and are mostly based on levels in the single player campaign. I don't know how many people play it online anymore, but even if you can't find anyone, you'll be more than satisfied with the single player campaign.
The sound is just as wonderful as anything else in this game. The music, composed by David Bergeaud, fits every mood of the game perfectly, and it delightfully mixes classical and techno. This game even has an original song with lyrics during a certain cutscene. The voice acting is also great. Every character's voice fits them perfectly, and they deliver their lines extremely well. Most everything in the game has various sound effects, from grumbling enemies to shattering glass, all of which are superbly done, very enjoyable to listen to, and really add to the draw you in' factor of the game. If you turn the volume down while you play, you really will be missing out.
I haven't said a single negative thing about this game yet. That's because there are no negatives to this game. Everything about this game is perfect and brilliantly done. If you have a PlayStation 2, you need this game in your collection. Yes, I said need. The Ratchet & Clank games are classics and masterpieces of the PS2. If you're considering this game, just go buy it right now; as I said earlier, it would be best to play the Ratchet & Clank games in order, but it's not a requirement. Also, since it was released five years ago, you should be able to get it very cheaply. It's gorgeous, brilliant, fun, funny, exciting, perfect, and cheap what more motivation do you need?
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 07/01/09
Game Release: Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal (US, 11/03/04)
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