Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal
Review by Dandude776
"Annihilates it's predecessors and blasts the competition into another dimension!"
Ratchet & Clank return for the third game in their series, which has lived through 3 games in 3 years, all of which have been groundbreaking in the platforming genre. Ratchet & Clank 1 reshaped the platforming world with a barrage of heat-seeking missiles by putting an emphasis on heavy weaponry and intense action. Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando cleaned up the original and added RPG-style experience to nanotech (Life) and weapons, giving you more of an incentive to blow stuff up and gain more power. And Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal, polishes single-player to perfection, boosts the RPG theme with even more upgrades, adds new game-play mechanics such as the side-scrolling Qwark missions, and battle challenges, and gores where no platforming game has ever gone before: Online.
The R&C gameplay has always been great, and UYA cleans it up with better combat, much more intense battles (Some missions actually feel like you're in a war), and expands upon GC's RPG ideas. While in GC weapons could upgrade 3 times (Once at first, and then twice more in challenge mode), in UYA each weapon has 8 full forms. Weapons upgrade much faster now, and the upgrades are now mostly ammo and power, and less like the drastic changes of GC (The Lava Gun morphing to the terrible Meteor Cannon was not fun at all), but still gain cool stuff like lock-ons, charge-ups, and even the ability to freeze enemies. Health now upgrades from 10 nanotech to 100 nanotech, and then up to 200 nanotech in challenge mode, allowing you to really feel like you're gaining power as the game goes on. That's not to say battle gets easier though. The enemies are smarter and more numerous than they were in GC, and you're constantly swarmed from all directions. You really got to stay on your feet, or fall to the plasma blasts of so many enemy robots.
The main single player game progresses much like GC: Go to a planet, travel around blowing stuff up, watch a cut-scene, go to the next planet, buy a new weapon, repeat. However, there is now a central hub called the Starship Phoenix (More on that in the story section), where you can buy new weapons and armor, look at your found/won trophies, and play virtual reality challenges. Gameplay on the planets is also much more varied than that of Going Commando. You now constantly face Battlefield Missions, in which you fight along side Space Ranger allies in a small map, completing challenges that vary from defending against an attack, to capturing towers, to flying a hovercraft and destroying incoming enemy dropships. It feels alot like Halo, as you also get to hop in a Warthog-like jeep and ride around. The later Battlefield missions become surprisingly tough, as you are surrounded by land and air enemies, all looking to rip you a new one. There are also brief sky-driving segments which are fun while they last, and GC's arenas return with many more challenges to fight including dangerous obstacle courses and the usual gladiator matches. Unlike GC, UYA is surprisingly difficult in some parts, and and I found myself dying more often than in GC, which was far too easy. There are more boss fights in UYA, all of which are exciting and intense.
The weapons are of course the center of any R&C game, and while UYA has alot of "rehashes", it contains many cool weapons. First, numerous old weapons return including the Agents of Doom, Plasma Coil, Bouncer, Lava Gun, Suck Cannon, Shield Charger, Megaturret Gun and Sheepinator, all of which have been changed a bit (The Bouncer now has much more limited ammo to make up for it's insane power, and the Agents of Doom now also act as Synthenoids. Plus the Lava Gun now upgrades to the Liquid Nitrogen Gun instead of the Meteor Cannon), and all of which upgrade as much as the new weapons. Some new weapons resemble closely old ones (There is one weapon strikingly similar to the Shock Cannon, and the N60 Hurricane i obviously the descendant of the Blaster/Lancer), but others are very fresh and cool. The Rift Inducer blasts black holes which suck the enemies into another dimension; The Tempest allows you to target multiple enemies before it shocks them; The Infector poisons enemies with a toxin causing them to attack their friends; The Annihilator is a combination Megarocket Tube/Bouncer; and others are just as cool.
Online and multiplayer are very fun, but people should not be deceived: R&C: UYA is not a complete multiplayer game, and the single player is still the main focus. Offline multiplayer is fairly boring and bland, but online the games can get quite fast and furious, even if they are more simplistic than other online military games. You have 3 game types to choose from: The standard Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, and a mode called Siege in which you must take over the enemy base one turret at a time. Join a clan and play large games, and online can get quite fun. The Qwark Missions are fun but very aggravating, with checkpoints either too close or too far away. If there is an R&C4, however, I would love to see the side-scrolling return if it has been cleaned up and made better.
Graphics and Sound
R&C has some really beautiful landscapes, and the variety of levels is astounding. You'll jump from a tropical jungle to a crowded city,to an under lair to a disco factory to sewers... etc. It's very nice. There are tons and tons of explosions and fiery special effects shooting around, with hardly ever slowdown, and the characters display very good animation in the cut-scenes. Sound is great, with hilarious spoken dialogue in the cut-scenes, and nice effects for the weapons. The voice of the Space Rangers can be annoying, but other than that it's all good.
Possibly the best and funniest plot of the series, R&C3 has a much more cohesive plot than GC's off-the-wall tale, and nearly every cut-scene is packed with jokes that are often genuinely hilarious. The story tells the tale of the robotic Dr. Nefarious who wants to turn all creatures of the universe into robots, and destroy all organic lifeforms. He is quite racist against the organic creatures of the universe, calling them "squishies", a derogatory term for organics in the future, and often shares cut-scenes with his hilarious robotic butler Lawrence, who is always calm and with a very slow-paced demeanor similar to Clank. Meanwhile Clank is now an action-movie/TV star as Secret Agent Clank, and basks in glory while Ratchet is left to the side, despite having saved the universe. Twice. Anyway, they are called into action by the Galactic President and his daughter Sasha, who need them to go in search of the only man to have ever defeated Dr. Nefarious: Captain Qwark. Having gone insane since he last faced R&C, Qwark now lives in the jungle thinking he's a monkey, but after regaining his memory, leads the Q-Force -A team comprised of Qwark, Sasha, Ratchet, Clank, and Skid McMarx, Al, and Helga from R&C1- to defeat Dr. Nefarious. The story is great, and funny even if you haven't played the other R&C games (Although you will miss some jokes). Some jokes are truly hilarious and memorable, and display how NON-KIDDY this game is. Listen for roll-on-floor-laughing inducing lines about "monkey mating season", "the Crotchitizer", and more.
If you have the capacity to play online, this game's replay value increases exponentially. Even if you don't there's still lots to do, and even though single player mode is slightly shorter than that of GC, there are lots of skill points to find, Titanium Bolts to collect, trophies to discover, arena battles to be won, and weapons to be upgraded. Plus challenge mode (Unlocked by beating the game) allows you to upgrade your weapons further, giving you more than your money's worth.
Up Your Arsenal is a great game, a worthy successor to the R&C series, and a defining moment in platforming history. If you've never played an R&C game before, it's advised to pick up R&C or GC (Both of which are now Greatest Hits) before checking this out, and if you're a fan of the series or platforming in general, this is a great game, whether or not you can play online. Explosive gameplay, hilarious plot, great graphics, and fun multiplayer make for a great game. Get it and rip the galaxy a new one!
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 11/08/04, Updated 12/21/04
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