Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal
Review by mandyfanforevr
"You can tell they were more interested in perfecting the multiplayer than the single player, but it was well worth it"
Anybody who has played the first two games knows they were beyond excellent and was likely eagerly awaiting this one. The theme as usual is more, more, more, but has Insomniac managed to keep the quality up to its previous standards? The good news is that the game is better than most anything else you'll play, but the bad news is it may not be quite as good as you expect.
My biggest complaint about the story is that there is zero emotion. Sure there's some girl that Ratchet likes but I couldn't even tell you her name. I realise it's a platformer, but some sense of something would be nice. They did try I guess, but it all felt done before. Luckily what it lacks in emotion it makes up for in humour. With the duo back in their home galaxy, you will run into some past characters that we all know are impossible to not laugh at. Clank even managed to get me busting up laughing a couple of times with his one liners, and he is the most serious character in the game. In addition to the cut scenes being hilarious, in levels there are often announcements as background noise saying things like nuclear warheads and nail clippers will no longer be allowed on flight due to increased security restrictions. As you can, they have gone over the top (perhaps too much so) in filling the game with both obvious and subtle humour.
Sound and graphics
There's not too much to say here. The graphics are superb as usual, with seamless textures and large environments. The sound effects and music are spot on, generally fitting the mood perfectly. It's not anything I would burn to a CD and listen to, but in game it works quite well.
You will be given three choices of control sets in this game. The first is the standard third person, the same thing used in the first two games. The second is first person, with a first person view and controls that let you shoot and jump while moving the camera. The third (and my personal favourite) is lock-strafe. This option gives you a third person view, but with the controls of first person mode. Basically strafing is always turned on, R1 shoots, L1 jumps and crouching is moved to the R2 button. If you cannot get used to this while doing platforming sections, I strongly encourage that you at least use it in the battle arena and multiplayer mode. It takes some getting used to, but once you do, you will have a lot of trouble going back.
In relation to the first couple of games, it's a lot of the same with a few new gimmicks. You get a lot of weapons from the first two games (free from Going Commando if you have a save) with few new additions. The most notable are the infector and rift ripper. The former (supposedly) infects one enemy and makes it turn on its friends.. Unfortunately, this never seemed to work too well. On the other hand, the rift ripper creates a black hole that sucks up small to moderate sized enemies. This thing is so cool, especially in the battle arena or in the Aquatos Sewers where there are tons of baddies. A couple of old weapons are back with some much needed tweaks, such as the lava gun and now quack-o-ray. Most people agree that the lava gun was a great effect until it upgraded into the meteor gun, completely ruining the fun. In UYA, you needn't worry about that, as it turns into a liquid nitrogen gun instead -- which makes it freeze instead of burn, but is otherwise the same effect. The morphing guns have always been pretty fun, but the quack-o-ray takes the cake. As it levels, it gets more features, such as making the ducks leave exploding eggs and even giving you a "guardian devil duck" that flies over you and takes out anything when it comes near. The only other weapon worth noting is the RY3NO (only available in challenge mode)... I won't spoil it by telling you about it, but I will say that it is much better than both the RYNO II and the zodiac combined. They have dropped the habit of ridiculously overpricing overpowered weapons that are still somehow useless, so be happy about that.
Aside from weapons, there are a few other minor changes here and there. You can now fill up all of your weapons with a single purchase at any Gadgetron vendor. Yes, that's right, no more scrolling through your 30 weapons trying to figure out which ones need their ammo replenished -- one click and you're good to go! Arena challenges now fill up your ammo when you start them, which is another welcome change. Nanotech heals a percentage of your total health instead of a set number, and there is a (hidden) item that lets you carry extra nanotech to use in an emergency. These may seem like small things, but just try to playing one of the first two games after playing this one -- you will quickly realise how much you took them for granted. Otherwise the basic premise of the game is about the same except for the expected tweaks: your health and weapons have higher max levels (though they also seem to level faster), there are more mini-games (mostly arena and battle challenges), etc. There are no more spaceship missions, but there are a few battle challenges where you use a hovership. The races are gone as well, and the closest replacement is a land vehicle that you will use on occasion. There are 'vid-comics' now, which are basically old school 2D platformers where you play as Qwark and learn a bit about his history. Other than that, it has the same feel as the other two games. It's tons of fun no matter what, even if they were a bit lacking on innovation this time around.
Overall the game seems much more focused on battling and the odd platforming section (no more grinding, if you can believe that!). I am not sure if this was on purpose or if they were just running out of time (as I got the feeling in the Insomniac museum), but it is quite apparent. If you enjoy the battling portion of the game, and perhaps even find it too easy or repetitive at times and would like a new challenge, Insomniac has found the ultimate cure: online multiplayer. Oh yes, you read that right, you will now be able to challenge your friends who swear they're better than you and royally kick their asses (or get yours kicked, as the case may be). There are three modes: deathmatch, capture the flag, and siege. You can do deathmatches in either teams or as a free for all, and both are very fun. Capture the flag has only two teams (as does siege mode) and is pretty self explanatory. Get the other team's flag and return it to your base. You can set it so your team either does or doesn't need to be in possession of your own flag as well to score. Siege mode is probably the most in depth and strategic. There are two bases, both with big gattling turrets and a number of other minor defenses. Strewn across the map are nodes which also have defenses and sometimes vehicles or weapon spawns. To gain control of a node, destroy all its defenses (usually just a few robots that shoot and a couple mini-turrets) and crank the node with your wrench (like how you would open some bridges in the first game). It usually takes several seconds to crank it, and you can be shot at while doing this. If you are hit, your wrench will release from the node. If you manage to take it, any defenses, vehicles, and boxes will respawn and will be in your team's control. You can also spawn at any node your team controls after you die, and having nodes in the right places can be the difference between losing or winning for this reason. You can take nodes that the other team is in control of in the same fashion, but they can also respawn there after you kill them, so it is generally tough. And yes, they can spawn faster than you can crank the node, especially if two or more are going after you.
So, once you have the necessary nodes in your control (or you don't but are getting desperate, whichever), you need to take out their base. First you have to destroy the two gattling turrets, then warp inside using the teleport pad in front of the base. Keep in mind that if you are hit, you will not finish teleporting inside, so you will have to destroy the minor defenses as well. Also remember that you can always respawn at your own base, so there will likely be somebody there stopping you. Throw in vehicles (there are usually anti-vehicle turrets somewhere near the base, so be careful!); a handful of weapons, all of which can be upgraded with three kills (but you drop 'em if you die); options to toggle unlimited ammo, charge boots, any of the weapons, vehicles and attrition mode (the more nodes your team has, the better your base defenses); and, of course, a variety of maps to choose from, and you will be busy for a very long time. Oh yeah, and it supports the headset, so you can talk to your teammates as well, which adds a lot to the experience. All in all, this is probably the most fun portion of the entire game. It just never gets old.
Well you could replay the game once in challenge mode, but that's about all I'd bother with. As I said though, the multiplayer mode is all the replay value you could ever hope for. You will definitely sink days -- possibly weeks or months -- into this game, so it is definitely worth buying it outright instead of renting it. Don't even think about not getting it at all, that is just not an option!
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 01/07/05
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