Review by Zalu Ragar

"Are you an Insomniac? You Will Be Now"

The battle lines have been drawn, and the furry man on the television has given you the rules of engagement: “Kill or be killed, shoot or be shot, take no prisoners, and be sure to grab your banana.” You grab your gear, including the metal strap-on…friend: The organic mechanical secret agent: Clank. You're wearing the latest armor, you've got the biggest guns and the biggest ears, and you know that size really does matter. Now you're free falling from the rear end of the Starship Phoenix, and you can see the deadly glow of radiation as troopers squeeze the rounds out of their shock blasters against the emotionless mechanical fiends and their dimwitted companions, the Tyhrranoids. Your fur is bristling with adrenaline, ice is flowing in your veins, and you've just realized that the free-falling wind just sucked all the saliva out from under your lips up onto your goggles. You are Ratchet. The robotical gears of the opponents don't understand fear, and the only way to solve this problem is at the tip of a bullet. You are the intergalactic duo: Ratchet and Clank, your battle cry is, “Up YOUR arsenal!”

Ratchet and Clank: Up Your Arsenal is the third installment in a series of spectacular games produced by Insomniac Games. Each game is part action, part adventure, part platformer, part shooter, and all deadly. The quality of the games could be represented by positive linear line with an intensely steep slope, because each new game in the series has gotten progressively more fascinating and awesome. The most recent game in the series was Ratchet and Clank: Going Commando, which offered hours of extensive gameplay, days of challenge, and weeks of replayability that left fans gasping for more. And now Insomniac is giving you a new gun that promises to be better than the last. Now pull the trigger, and let's get started.

Story: 9 The game opens with Ratchet and Clank playing some bizarre form of intergalactic chess, just in time to see Ratchet get checkmated. Almost immediately insult is added to injury by Clank turning on the television, only to see Clank's hit TV show, Secret Agent Clank, which details the robotic adventures of Clank, who has taken all the glory of Ratchet's past endeavors. Sure Clank was helpful…but he's a robotic strap on for crying out loud! In the short flick, Ratchet plays the humiliating role of Clank's chauffeur.

The program is soon interrupted by a news broadcast, announcing that Ratchet's home word of Veldin is under attack, apparently by a race known as the Tyhrranoids, who are being controlled by a robotical villain known as Dr. Nefarious, who insults all organic creatures by calling them “squishies”. Of course you can't stand for this. No one gets away with calling you that! So your mission is to stop the evil Dr. Nefarious, and part of that mission includes assembling the most powerful arsenal of weapons the world has ever known, along with a banana shooter and a one eyed monkey.

The story is not only riveting and twisting; it is one of the most humorous ones ever found in a game, as players from previous R&C games can testify. The game's story is original and unique, but still manages to retain that witty charm and confounding epigrams we have all learned to know and love from the past games. Players will be happy to know that they will see the return of some of their favorite characters, including a “quarky” super hero, and a grossly entertaining plumber.

Gameplay: 10 This is what it's all about. This is where the R&C games truly radiate shine in all their annihilating glory and fiery fun-ness. What more could you ask from an already spectacular game series? Why, new weapons of course. Not to mention a multiplayer mode, online capability, and a hot new “foxy” female character. (Not to be forgotten are the ridiculous amount of bananas.)

The game features over 17 weapons (some new, some old), and each weapon as three levels of upgradeability, giving you a grand total of about 51 variations, but then each weapon will upgrade one more time into a totally knew weapon, retaining the same theme as the previous one, but shedding the name and gaining new features, maximum power, and increased functionality. Players will also be happy to hear the at certain select points in the game you will be given the option of uploading weapons from a previous Ratchet and Clank save file, essentially giving you free weapons.

The controls in Ratchet and Clank are as tight as they've ever been. The game features a 360 degree camera that can swivel all around you, meaning it's probably going to be giving you some trouble until you learn how to control it well. But never fear, the right analog stick can be used to rotate the camera within the completely three dimensional atmosphere, allowing you to move it up, down, side to side, and all around, while the L1 button gives you the power to automatically position the camera directly behind Ratchet. And with three different camera modes (first person, third person, lock-strafe), there is no plausible reason that one could complain about the controls. Not only are you given a variety of control schemes to choose from, but you can alter the functionality of the analog, allowing you to invert them if you are more familiar with the up goes down, down goes up control scheme.

R&C:UYA also features a new style of game playing. As soon as you pick up the controller you will instantly know you are playing a R&C game, and you will instantly be satisfied, however you will also notice that something is different. In the last two games you were a one man army, blowing through torrents of enemy forces to reach a certain destination or grab a certain item. R&C:UYA makes you feel like you are in the middle of a battle field, with war waging all around you between two opposing forces. In most of the battlefield type battles you are even assisted by the intergalactic troopers who will pleasantly provide cover fire for you. Of course there are still the old school run through missions, in which you will be the sole competitor fighting your way through a remote world or hidden compound, trying to obtain that elusive item needed to progress the story.

As you fight your way through the legions of robotic minions, you will collect various items, including new weapons and bolts. For anyone new to the series, bolts are the intergalactic currency, and if you save up enough you can buy even more new weapons, gadgets, and armor. With each armor upgrade your on-screen Ratchet avatar will change his look, growing more fearsome and warrior-like with each transformation.

The game also features a multiplayer mode with online capabilities (broadband only), or via a split screen style combat, or play split screen and online at the same time with some of your buddies. The multiplayer mode gives you various forms and ways to beat the heck out of your friends, such as the traditional death match and capture the flag. Fans of the Unreal Tournament franchise will defiantly find something to like here, as the play style of the multiplayer mode strongly resembles it, and with the plethora of weapons at your finger tips, you'll be hard pressed to grow bored of it.

Graphics/Sound: 9 Simply amazing. I will never get tired of that “ching” sound that the game makes when I pick up a bolt, it's so superbly grafted and pleasant to hear that it will actually make bolt collecting a less adorning task. But the sound is not limited just to a cute “ching”, because when you free fall down into that hellish battle field, you'll know exactly where you are, if not for the sound alone. The enemies battle cry's tearing through the ears and hearts of every soldier, bullets and lasers piercing the sky, heating the air to an eerie and unnatural crescendo, and your loyal brave team of troopers calling out to you because they are about to be over ran by a new wave of brutal robots and aliens.

The sound and music match the game and the play style perfectly, and sound like they were grafted for a violent yet hilarious cartoon, which is in theory exactly what Ratchet and Clank is, so keep squeezing that trigger, and if you hear a “click” sound, you are in some big trouble.

The graphics are just as beautiful to look at as the sounds are to hear. Each new planet you go to has a different style than the last one, and the graphics portray that magnificently. Each new world not only feels like one, it looks like one. Weather it be a planet corrupted and tainted the infestation of machines and factories, or lush jungle world filled with exotic beasts, you'll love them all, and of course want to blow them all up. The character and enemy designs are done to the point of perfection, showing off amazing textures that make you want to reach out and cup the water in your hands, or punch that alien who just shot you, or lick that delicious looking banana. Once again, the graphics are geared just like the music: to make the game look and feel like a three dimension violent yet funny cartoon. And did it work? Oh yeah.

Conclusion: Ratchet and Clank: Up Your Arsenal is a magnificent game that defies the mind set that you were probably in during the last game: “It just doesn't get any better than this!”. R&C:UYA takes that criticism to heart, and redefines the game series in such a way that it still holds true to everything we knew and loved in the last two games. It's just difficult enough to make you squirm and sweat, but if you know your guns you can pull out of the worse scrapes imaginable. So grab your guns, grab your banana, and get ready for the fight of your life. Make sure your helmet is secured, and all seat belts are fastened, because this is going to be a wild ride. Fight long and hard, and buy this game.

Overall (not an average): 9

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 11/07/04

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