Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal
Review by maestro_malone
"Better than the last one, but still fails to top the original"
The series so far
Ratchet and Clank first appeared on PS2 in late 2002, to compete with the new platforming sensation Jak and Daxter. Did Insomniac succeed in beating out the rival brand of Naughty Dog's? Well, that is highly debatable, but what was unarguable was the fact that R+C was a stroke of platforming genius. It firmly placed the focus on combat, with a huge range of weapons and gadgets to play around with. The levels were beautifully designed and the storyline was very intriguing. This game really had it all; the in-depth tactical style to appeal to a more mature audience and the cutesy-cool factor, aimed at the younger generation. However you chose to view it, it really worked.
Then came the much expected sequel, which was a huge letdown. The game failed to provide the sensational originality of the first game, offering much of the same. There were a few new features, but otherwise it was all pretty much too similar, aside for the weapons and gadgets, which became somewhat less balanced and more centred around a fixed few. The storyline was lacking too. This really didn't measure up to it's opening title.
So the question now was, could Ratchet and Clank: Up Your Arsenal re-capture the magic of the first title? It was time to find out.
The winning formula of the previous two games remains pretty much in play here, with a few tweaks here and there to add a more smooth feel to the movement system. As in the original, Insomniac has produced a very balanced set of weapons, each with it's own strengths, ensuring that you never become too reliant on one weapon. There's now also a lot more to do within the game; with the addition of 2-D side scrolling levels, virtual training levels etc. plus the return of the popular gladiator arenas, where you must take on hoards of enemies in a small circular arena. However, all forms of racing have been removed, since these would potentially reduce the level of focus the game holds on platforming. This is yet another positive, so overall, the gamplay is back in full form - as good as ever.
Graphics during cut scenes have been vastly improved, but the in-game graphics are practically untouched. This is no bad thing, since the detail and beauty of the series has always been one of it's strongest features.
The game's music remains very fitting and at the same time very enjoyable to listen to. Some of the music from the first game now returns, with the new sounds coming off just as impressive.
This time around, the storyline is more in-depth and involving to rival that of the first game. Unfortunately, it doesn't quite top it, but it is still very tense and exciting, something that is slowly becoming an essential for platform and adventure games. Basically, Dr Nefarious, an evil robotic genius, wishes to transform the entire galaxy into robots. Meanwhile, Clank has become a movie star and surpassed Ratchet in terms of stardom. Sounds childish, but it's played out extremely well.
Something very important in all platform games is the boss fights. The game can exceed at everything else, but this is something that it really needs to do well. Luckily, R+C:UYA does just that. The bosses are arguably the most challenging in the series to date, with a wide range of techniques to master for defeating them.
The game's new feature is by far it's greatest. If you thought the series was becoming a little stale, this will eradicate any such opinion. Multiplayer mode is a true masterpiece. Firstly, there's deathmatch mode, the simplest and most self-explanatory, where you simply have to blast on everything that moves. Then there's capture the flag, an ever popular game from shoot-em-ups. which fits perfectly into the R+C world. Finally, comes on of the most stunning multiplayer experiences on PS2, in the form of "siege" mode. Not only is this one of the most tactical gaming aspects out there, it is fantastic fun with friends or online. The aim is to capture the opposing team's base. To do so, you must first destroy the gun turrets and proceed to enter the base and destroy the power core. Sounds pretty dull on paper, but plays like a dream. There are also several smaller bases, known as nodes, to capture along the way. The purpose of these is to provide distinct advantages, such as weapons, re-spawn points and even vehicles: gun turrets, jeeps and hoverships - for stationary, mobile and air based assault. This variety makes for one of the greatest multiplayer titles out there, whether online or just split-screen, this is guaranteed to last a long time on your playlist.
In general, a superb platforming game, suitable for absolutely anyone. The single-player side of things doesn't quite equal that of the original title, but makes up for this negative with a sensational multiplayer experience. Once again, the series is all but back to it's best and this is definitely worth a purchase.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 05/09/05
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