On November 2, 2004, Ratchet and Clank: Up Your Arsenal was released to the public. Being a loyal follower of the Ratchet and Clank series, I bought this one, expecting great gameplay that was at least as good, if not better than the second game’s gameplay. Well, was it better? A definite YES! if you want to find out why it runs circles around it’s predecessor, read on.
When I got past the intro cut-scene and started playing, I instantly knew that it was ratchet and clank, but there’s a cool, new thing added: different control schemes. I know some of you are bound to have “hated” the controls in ratchet and clank 2. even though there was a strafe button, you constantly had to hold it and if the R2 or L2 button broke, you were out of luck (you could beat the game without using it, but it would be harder). Well now, Insomniac has included a control scheme that’ll change all of that. It’s called “Lock Strafe Mode” and here’s what it does: basically, while you have the wrench out (your default weapon) it controls just like ratchet and clank 1&2, but when you bring out an actual weapon, then it strafes for you, and you can aim your gun using the right-analog stick, and you can fire with R1. This will probably be a godsend for the people who are used to the FPS control scheme on the PS2, but then again, if you really aren’t comfortable with playing in third-person at all, there’s another control scheme called “FPS mode”. I’m pretty sure that’s self-explanatory.
Now, to the actual gameplay. Basically, you blast aliens or robots into oblivion using tons of weapons, but each weapon is fit for different scenarios. where one weapon might be godlike in one scenario, in another scenario it might pretty much be as harmless as a kitten. It adds some tatical depth to the play, which helps make it all the more fun to play. but the guns have limited ammo (except for the suck gun. but I’ll expalin that later) so of course you have a melee weapon: the wrench (or as the game calls it, the omniwrench 8000). This little bugger is good for the small opponents (Tip: don’t waist ammo on small opponents if you can kill them in one stroke with the wrench or use the suck gun to-suprise!- suck up enemies, which is the suck gun’s ammo.)
The game is never extremely hard, but it’s not a wark in the park either. it’s in the middle, especially if it’s your first time through. The enemies will (sometimes) take cover if they’re about to die. Well actually, that’s not completely true. you see, Insomiac used a sort of “code” with the enemies (tyrannoids). the code is counting how many eyes the enemy has. if it has one, then it’s pretty much brain-dead stupid, and it’ll come close to bite you, walking right into your wrench’s range. if it has 2, then it’ll attack from a dinstance with a gun, which is smarter, but it still won’t take cover. if it has 5, then it’s a commando and it has a big gun and it’ll take cover and use simple tactics to try to flank you. Last but not least, there’s tyrannoids that are in mechs, that have lasers that are pretty deadly if you’re on the recieving end.
there’s also good guys on your side that “help” you fight. The helpers are called “rangers”. They’re soldiers. Cowardly, but soldiers nonetheless. these guys die pretty fast, and their help is very aprreciated, so I suggest you try to keep them alive.
Now we’re going to go back to the weapons, except this time, about the weapons themselves. So, incase you’re wondering, you have all the basic weapons that are in any self-respecting FPS game. the ones that I’m talking about are these (I won’t use the guns’ names):
although there’s no pistols and grenades, in this game you don’t really need them. I won’t spoil the other weapons, though, because that gets rid of most of the fun of collecting them!
Oh, and there’s also this minigame which features quark. these minigames are actually not reall y mini games. remember the days of the side-scrollers (Contra anyone)? well, this side-game is a side-scroller, but it looks 3D, but overall it looks really cartoony. the guys at Insomniac did a great job on the character models and the effects in this little game too. it’s great fun, and it makes the experience better.
Oh! I almost forgot to mention the online play and the 4-player split-screen! This is easily the thing that Insomniac put the most work into. The online is awesome, not only because it’s fast-paced and a blast to play but also because the game uses a good inteface for the online. easy to use and fast, this is easily the best on the PS2 in terms of being easy to use.
The game modes consist of Siege, Capture the Flag, and Deathmatch. Deathmatch and CTF are self-explanatory, so the new addition is Siege. If you’ve played Onslaught in Unreal Tournament 2004, then you’ll be instantly familar with this mode. In Siege, the point is to destroy the enemies base, but there’s something else: Nodes. Like in Unreal, these nodes can spawn weapons, vehicles, and you can spawn on any Node you own. these are immediately useful, and you must get at least a few of them. Tip: try to get the one nearest to the enemy’s base. It’ll save a lot of trouble. defend it at all costs.
and to top it all off, it runs at a constant 60 frames-per-second.
Okay, onto the graphics.
The graphics in this game are some of the best I’ve seen on the PS2. the game has beatuiful cut-scenes and character models, and the graphics really help flesh out the cut-scenes (and the cut-scenes are laugh-out-loud funny). The enivonments (levels) and effects are awesome as well. The effects in one word are awesome. the gun effects are stunning, and the water effects are just plain beautiful. and the environments-their stunning as well. leaves actually fall of the trees, and there’s tons going on in the backround. In some levels, hover-cars are flying around in the backround, and there’s just a lot going on in the levels.
Oh, and for those who have HDTVs, the game supports progressive scan too. it also supports Widescreen, and if you can do both of those- the game looks even better.
The animation is good as well. ratchet goes through his moves fluidly, and I’ve never seen it suddenly skip an animation (except for him being able to wip out a gun without doing anything. hmmm…). the main-characaters walk fine, and so do the other characters (the bad guys or the rangers).
on to the sound!
the sound was extremely well done in the second one, and now the sound is better than ever. the sound effects for the guns and the environments…. wow. Some of the gun effects make the guns sound more powerful than they really are! and the music is awesome too! Insomniac had to have paid top-dollar for the soundtrack, because the soundtrack is awesome. The soundtrack solely consists of techno, but man is it good!
This game is simply a must have on the PS2, for it’s single-player and it’s online play. If you don’t have it and you have a PS2, you’re missing out on one of the best PS2 games ever made. get it already and have some fun!