Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters Review (PlayStation 2)

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Publisher: Sony
Developer: High Impact Games/Sony


Platforms: PSP and PlayStation 2
Reviewed on PlayStation 2

After saving the universe countless times, Ratchet and 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 they refuse? Of course, when that same little girl is kidnapped by robots, R&C 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?

Rating:
Kyle Ackerman


The original Ratchet & Clank is one of the great platformers of all time. Insomniac Games, the developer of the original 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.

When Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters from High Impact Games first reached the PSP around a year ago, it was gasp of air for Ratchet & Clank fans everywhere, recapturing the feel of the original Ratchet & Clank adventures, even if this adventure was shorter than many past adventures. The weapons were 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 in Size Matters was always entertaining.

Ever since Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction, it's been an entirely different picture for anyone who has sunk the resources into an HD TV and a PlayStation 3. Ratchet & Clank fans are no longer hanging out at dingy street corners asking shady looking men in long coats if they have a new Ratchet & Clank game. But those of you who don't have access to a PlayStation 3 or PSP have been languishing for an eternity, perhaps even calling rehab clinics to see if there's a detox program for robot and lombax platformers. Finally, the PSP game Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters has been remade for the PlayStation 2, and now anyone with access to a Sony console can have fun helping Ratchet and his robot buddy on yet another heroic quest.

Because Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters is an adaptation of a PlayStation 2 game, there's a little cognitive dissonance associated with play, despite the fun. It feels just the slightest bit... off. In the PSP version, I wanted more things to smash (and shatter into bolts). The PlayStation 2 version tweaks the textures and adds more elements to the scenery, but not things that smash in that satisfying Ratchet & Clank style.

The game is lots of fun, in traditional R&C style. I love that Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters has so many different types of mini-games. 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.

But there are some elements of the PlayStation 2 port that don't work as well as I would like. Unfortunately, the Gadgebot survival levels seemed washed out in ways that they weren't on the PSP, making some of them difficult to play without extensive trial-and-error or really messing with the brightness settings of my TV. Also, the Giant Clank sequences in space seemed easier with the PlayStation 2 DualShock controller, but didn't convert well from the PSP widescreen format to the conventional 3:2 aspect ratio – lots of ships were off the edge of the screen. I was pleased that the game didn't freeze as it did in a few cases on the PSP version, but the level in which Ratchet experiences a drugged dream didn't work as well on the PlayStation 2, because with a conventional 3:2 TV screen, too much of the image is lost to the wavery bits on the edge of the screen that illustrate the unreality.

The levels are solidly designed, always presenting an obvious path to the next challenge, but with cleverly hidden, secret areas with 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 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 action. The PlayStation 2 version lets players compete in these modes on the same console using a split-screen mode, rather than using the PSP's wireless connection to play.

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 another worthy adventure on the PlayStation 2 for fans eager for a Ratchet & Clank fix.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on March 11, 2008 12:02 AM.

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