Friday, January 16, 2009

Ratchet and Clank review

Name: Ratchet and Clank
System/s: PS2
Developer: Insomniac
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Release Date: 11/04/02

Okay, so I've put off playing this series of games for years and finally got to it because I received the PS3 Ratchet & Clank game for christmas (Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction) and I didn't know the story. So using the gift certificate I got for christmas, and having a deal being run at Gamestop, I was able to get the whole series.

Confession: I love Jak and Daxter, and Sly Cooper. I also know that Sly, Jak and Ratchet are the golden trio of platformers from the PS2 era. I have owned all the Jak and Sly games for quite some time and love them, so I had pretty high expectations for this series.

Down to the details: This game really reminds of Jak and Daxter, which in some ways is good and in others is not. Though this game reminds a lot of J&D, Jak and Daxter it is not. While the graphics and gameplay are similar, the art style, and game design does not.

In general, the art design is fine, I suppose, not entirely to my liking, but it's not as good (in my mind) as Jak and Daxter. The areas in this game are pretty generic most of the time, you'll see bland factories, bland outdoor areas, bland cities. The environments are by the books, with it's own artistic style thrown on.

Another things I would like to mention is the difficulty; Jak and Daxter had a lot of checkpoints, that were well places, so that you knew that no mater where you died, you wouldn't go back *too* far. Some might complain that it makes it to easy, but the game was still difficult, it just had good check points. Now, Ratchet and Clank, *didn't* learn from Jak and Daxter in this respect, or from any game that doesn't piss you off about check points. The check points in this game are far and few, forcing you to replay sections of levels sometimes up to dozens of times, because they wont have a check point for about 10-15 minutes of gameplay.

On the topic of difficulty there's definitely something screwy here. most of the enemies in the game have long range attacks, and can hit you out of range of any of your weapons, most of which are only useful at the range of a 'game-shotgun' which makes it kind of pointless. Like 4 out of the 15 weapons I acquired in the game had medium, or long range, and 2 of them were rocket launchers. When the enemies will spot you a mile away and when there's a million shooting at you at once, it's a pain when you have no long range weapons. Also, the aiming system is garbage, forcing you to fire in first person all the time, and when you are in first person, you cannot move.

One more complaint I had was that the story was *extremely* light for this game, and was very cliché at that, I pretty much saw the whole thing coming. Plus Ratchet was not a very likable main character.

Now, it wasn't all fail. I did like the character designs for the main characters, and although not super useful some of the weapons were quite fun. Also the game generally surprised me with some elements, which I found to be very original, and innovative. It also made me smile and laugh, which most games do not. It also set up some groundwork for sequels in the universe, which is good, because I was hoping it would. Lastly, unlike most games that come out now, it lasted quite a while, like 18 hours or something, with unlockables, and things left to buy at the end.

What I Liked:

Main Character Character Design: I liked the look of Ratchet, and Clank, they both have their own little things that make them unique, and the way Ratchet's ears move is awesome.

Fun Weaponry: The weapons, however useless, were fun to use, and interesting. Something not many games can claim.

Length: This game is quite long, I tried to run through it as quick as possible, and it still took me 14-16 hours.

Truly Unique Gameplay: It's undeniable that parts of this game are just unique, and original. Innovative, and interesting. Another things most games can't claim.

What I didn't like:

Useless Weaponry:
As fun as some of the weaponry is, most of it I never touched past the first use, because most of it is close range, and when you are close range, you can just use your wrench. Also most of the time, enemy weaponry has farther range then yours.

Terrible Checkpoints: Not having reasonable checkpoints is not a legitimate way to lengthen your game. Some worlds would take me much longer then they should have due to areas having to be replayed 20 or more times, because I miss a jump, and have to fight the same eneies which gave me trouble the first time, 20 times more.

Difficulty is Broken: I enjoy hard games, but only hard in a way that challenges you, not the kind that tries your patience. When all the enemies have longer range then you, and have numbers that feel like they might break a dozen, you end up dying a lot. And not because it's hard in a good way, but because it is just broken. I ended up being cheap and shooting around corners and tricking the AI to make things a bit more possible, this is never a good thing.

Floaty Controls: Unlike the precise controls in Jak and Daxter, the controls in this game are very floaty, which led me to walk off cliffs accidentally more then a few times, in a game that already has enough problems with difficluty, this didn't help.

Light-on-Story: Again unlike Jak and Daxter and Sly, the story on this game is really light, and is barely above Mario in terms of originality.

Bland Environments: I suppose it's to be expected for such a long game, but the environments left something to be desired. However, it doesn't get of the hook; the game has bland environments and that's that.

Final Scores:

Presentation - 7.6: The bland worlds, light story, and meh art style take down a otherwise fine game

Graphics - 7.8: The game *looks* fine, the bland environments and art style bring it down for me.

Sound - 8.5: The music is fine, it does exactly what it's suppose to, and all the guns and everything sound fine, nothing to write home about though.

Gameplay - 7.0: The difficulty, and bad shooting controls bring the game down a lot, but otherwise it could be pretty good.

Lasting Appeal - 9.0: There's a lot to buy once you've beaten the game, but I would think quite a bit of it is just grind. There's also make-shift achievements and secrets to unlock. This game does this quite fine.

Overall Fun - 8.0: Despite how it would seem, I had fun with this. It's simple, and rewarding, and has a few things that will surprise you gameplay wise.

I have started the second game, and found that a lot of problems I had with the first game are already fixed. :)

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