Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters Review (PSP)

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Publisher: Sony
Developer: High Impact Games

Platforms: PSP and PlayStation 2
Reviewed on PSP

After saving the universe countless times, Ratchet & Clank are finally enjoying that hard-earned vacation on the beach. When a little girl pesters the duo for an autograph and an action photograph, how could Ratchet or Clank refuse? Of course, when that same little girl is kidnapped by robots, Ratchet & Clank get drawn into a mystery revolving around the tiny, legendary ancient robots called the Technomites, reportedly responsible for the galaxy's most advanced technology. But are the tiny technological geniuses a boon to the galaxy, or a terrifying threat?

Kyle Ackerman

The original Ratchet & Clank is one of the great platformers of all time. Insomniac Games, the developer of the PlayStation 2 games, created sympathetic and humorous characters, and wild weapons that made me want to gather every gadget, upgrade every armament and see the story through to its end... several times. Unfortunately, as Ratchet & Clank sequels have been pumped out, the funny and frantic single-player games have dwindled as the games become further focused on multiplayer action and arena battles.

With Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters, developer High Impact Games brings Rachet and his robotic pal to the PSP. In doing so, High Impact Games has recaptured everything that made the original game such a must-play experience. The weapons are still wacky: there's the Mootator that transforms enemies into cows; the Suck Cannon; and even a Killer Bee Mine that hurls a hive of stinging menaces. With plenty of different sets of armor (each with a special function if you wear a complete set) and a slew of fascinating weapon upgrades, dealing with the constant onslaught of enemies is always entertaining.

The levels are solidly designed, always presenting an obvious path to the next challenge, but with cleverly hidden, secret areas containing the bolts that unlock other costumes for Ratchet. And as in all Ratchet & Clank games, there are hints suggesting secret tasks (like converting sea crabs into cows with the Mootator) that grant skill points to unlock cheats. As per the Size Matters name, levels explore different scales and Ratchet and Clank change sizes, ranging from microscopic to gigantic. Even Quark is back, with his special brand of half-witted heroism to keep gamers laughing.

There are some minor problems with the otherwise-superb platforming action. The camera occasionally performs poorly when Ratchet is stuck in close quarters, and there are some problems with continue points. For example, a boss battle against a robotic foe on the farm moon Dayni starts with several long, simple sequences in which you avoid strafing machine guns, a combine, and falling rocks, before finally getting to the meat of the fight. It's bad enough that you have to repeat all these (really easy) sequences if you fail in the final fight, but I had the game freeze upon reaching the boss, forcing me to replay a long, unnecessary sequence. The Dayni battle should be more like the stand-alone segments of the final fight against the aptly-named Emperor Otto Destruct.

Despite those few problems, there are so many mini-game activities to augment the already incredible platforming play that there's no end of entertainment in Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters. Ratchet faces cheating competitors in hoverboard races, while Clank has more roles than ever. As Giant Clank, he punches out evil overlords and blasts spaceships in coin-op-style rail shooter sequences. Clank also fights it out in "Robot Wars"-style arena battles, hurls bots in a basketball-like game and directs Gadgebots in a Lemmings-like game.

There are a variety of multiplayer modes that let gamers take each other on, and all are serviceable, if not quite as good as recent Ratchet & Clank online fun. Iron Lombax mode (Ratchet is a lombax) is objective-based team play, in which the objectives depend on the map. There are also Deathmatch and Capture the Flag options, for simpler online action.

Admittedly, if you've been drawn into the Ratchet & Clank series by the recent multiplayer modes, Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters isn't quite up to the standards of previous games. But the superb single-player game makes this a must-have for PSP platforming fans eager for a Ratchet & Clank fix. And even on the smaller PSP, High Impact Games has managed to sneak in just about everything you could want in a game, while exploiting as much of the PSP's power as possible.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on April 1, 2007 9:43 PM.

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