Size Matters, to put it bluntly, isn’t all that good. Sure it was fairly good for the time on the PSP, but now, not so much.
While the transfer to a smaller screen is commendable, there’s just not much to the game that separates it from its larger predecessors. The only real difference here is being able to combine armor parts, and that’s not a lot to write home about. Combined with the technical issues that plagued the PS2 version, Size Matters is a definite miss.
All 4 One
All 4 One is a very weird Ratchet and Clank game. After the Future series ran its course, this was more of a low-key affair with an emphasis on humor and four player co-op. Co-op’s always seemed suited for this series, given all the weapons and chaos these games provide. It’s a fun way to spend an afternoon with some buddies, provided you trust them to not let you fall to your death. It’s definitely a title you’ll love playing with your kids.
Problem is that it’s definitely an entry that’s basically for the kids. Not that there’s anything wrong with that by any means, but for veteran players, the challenge won’t be much of a hurdle for them. But there’s also the glitches that persisted for some time, and the puzzles aren’t really among the series’ best. And if you’ve got no friends to play it with, you may as well not really play it at all. Had it come out as a PSN game at a $15 price, this spinoff would be higher on the list. As is, it’s not really much of a great Ratchet title.
Secret Agent Clank
A game focused mainly on Clank feels weird at first. Sure, it worked with Daxter, but Daxter’s two year trouble before Jak 2 is something that fans would still have some memory of. Secret Agent Clank was a recurring bit in Up Your Arsenal that, while funny, pretty much began and ended at that fun Hollywood level. An entire game built on a tiny robot pretending to be James Bond doesn’t seem like it’d go far, right?
That more or less turns out to be the case. While Clank isn’t a bad character to focus on, there’s a reason why he’s relegated to short bursts (aside from his size, of course). The gadgets are pretty good, and the sneaking works, but eventually that wears down as you have to perform stealth hit after stealth hit. Sorry, Clank, you’re funny, but not enough to carry 90% of a game.
Full Frontal Assault
There’s nothing wrong with a series shifting gears while still retaining its core, and Ratchet and Clank knows that. After all, the original game was a platformer while the sequels from then on have been action-shooters. A tower defense R&C should make sense, right?
The best thing that can be said about Full Frontal Assault is done right, this series could have fun with tower defense. But the game’s length does it no favors by having a story mode that you can beat in less than a day. Whether or not you have fun with this title will depend on how much you enjoy running from control point to control point for four hours. Sure, there’s multiplayer, but that isn’t always going to be enough to carry a game, especially if it’s from a franchise with as strong a single player campaign lineup as this.
Quest 4 Booty
Tools of Destruction ended on a helluva cliffhanger, what with Clank getting abducted by the Zoni. While the two have been split apart before, they’ve always reunited before the game ended. If a game wraps up with the two separated, how do you go on from there? Enter Quest for Booty.
Short, downloadable entries on the PSN seem like a natural fit for Ratchet and Clank, and Quest for Booty gets that right in not overstaying its welcome. The three or four hours of completion time are fun, and the return of weapons from Tools is welcome. But for all the fun there is, there’s nothing else to it, and the lack of real progress on finding Clank shines.
Original Ratchet and Clank
The original game gets credit for its gameplay and environments, as it should. It’s a straight up beautiful game, and each world gives you a moment where you look around and go “I wanna explore everything”. The weapons are fun, the platforming is solid, and we wouldn’t have the great dynamic between our lead characters or the consistently entertaining Captain Qwark.
That said, there are some faults here. For anyone who started this series with the sequels, the lack of a strafe option for aiming is going to be something that they’ll have to adjust to, along with the absence of a leveling system. Running around in circles trying to blast enemies is the name of the game here, and an unexpected difficulty spike during the second half of the game wears the polish off. The hoverboarding levels aren’t as fun as they could be, and the final boss fight is very frustrating. Still a fun game, but easy to see why the series went forward with action.
It was worrisome Going Commando came roughly a year after the first game. To some, it screamed “rush job!”, which is understandable. Surprisingly, Going Commando actually ended up changing things up significantly in a way that still defines the series.
The shift from platformer to action-shooter was smart, because it offers replayability with a challenge mode and upgradeable weapons and armor. If nothing else, the series should be commended for having players go toe to toe with a giant brain. Adding in gladiator and hoverbike challenges was tons of fun, although the space combat and Giant Clank sections could’ve used some extra fine tuning.
While the new weapons are largely hit after hit, the game sometimes locks you into using ones you aren’t fans of, particularly during the latter half of the game which follows in the first game’s footsteps and has an unexpected difficulty spike. Too often you’ll find yourself going up against wave after wave of enemies and go through a quarter of your weapons and ammo before the game throws another wave at you. There’s a fun game in here for sure, just keep those issues in mind if you boot it back up.
Deadlocked isn’t actually as bad of a game as it would’ve seemed at the time. At its core, it’s more or less the arena combat side missions of the previous two games stretched out into a full title. That’s fine, even though the story is incredibly simple and doesn’t have anything to it besides a subplot about the villain Gleeman Vox trying to turn Ratchet into another tool for his media empire. Clank’s diminished appearance doesn’t do the game any favors, and no, the addition of two trooper bots (or Alpha Clank in co-op) don’t really help, even if Merc and Green have an alright dynamic.
Where the story dims, the gameplay shines. Despite slimming down the weapon count to 10, the customization became deeper with the addition of mods. Want your Scorpion Flail to launch burn enemies each time you swing it? Decided that your rocket launcher needs some sticky bombs? Those are options Deadlocked provides, and the replayability the game provides lets you experiment. There could be more mission variety and better ways to scale the game accordingly with another player, but in the end, Deadlocked is a fun game to plow through on the weekend.
Tools of Destruction
The first entry in the Future franchise can be called a lot of things. Excellent for sure, definitely a lot of fun, and absolutely gorgeous. Even when considering the technical issues the game had, it’s still a blast to go through. It’s definitely a great entry to the series for the PS3.
With the shift to a new console came the new tone, telling a more personal story about our titular heroes and their respective origins. There’s genuine emotion with each revelation and plot twist, even if the ending is a massive cliffhanger. The main villain Tachyon may not have a real presence, (no one will beat Dr. Nefarious for this series), but the relationship between Ratchet and Clank here is the best it’s been. Tools of Destruction doesn’t just offer a great game, it gives its duo some depth.
Into the Nexus
After all that craziness in Crack in Time and All 4 One, you’d think that Ratchet and Clank would take a breather, right? No such luck, as the two find themselves in another adventure involving interdimensional creatures and criminal twins. The campaign is short, but not in the way that was glaringly noticeable as was the case in Full Frontal Assault. While it’s definitely well-paced, its conclusion does come sooner than expected.
Into the Nexus is a nostalgia trip for sure, but damn if it ain’t a fun one. Even if the camera sometimes sticks and things get too chaotic (especially on the hardest difficulty), it’s still a blast to travel the galaxy with these characters and blow a bunch of crap up. The weapons are great, the controls are tight, and the Clank levels are fun, if a bit padded and frustrating. As a swan song for the duo’s admittedly rocky adventures on the PS3, Nexus is a fine goodbye for our buddy cop duo.
Crack in Time
The final installment of the Future trilogy that began with Tools of Destruction is the best of the bunch. It had plenty of story beats to pay off, finally answering questions about Clank’s origins and why Ratchet’s the last Lombax in the galaxy. In that regards, it’s definitely got the most emotional ending of the series, boosted by a strong story and voice cast in perfect sync with each other.
In some aspects, the gameplay’s lack of real innovation is an issue. Early on, the weapon line up isn’t as strong as what’s come before, as are the puzzles. The camera, normally not a problem for the series, is very hit and miss. But the Clank levels are consistent winners throughout, and the hoverboots are a welcome burst of energy. There’s a lot in Crack of Time that makes it one of the best entries for the planet-hopping duo, and if you feel like your time with the series is over, a more than excellent send off.
Up Your Arsenal
This is a no brainer, right? Ratchet and Clank: Up Your Arsenal is still the best of these games, which isn’t a knock against future entries. But when all’s said and done, out of all these games, this is the one for the history books and a triumph among the high bar of the PS2’s library.
Among UYA’s accomplishments is just how complete it felt. Whether it’s the main story mode, or the optional missions, or the Captain Qwark 2D levels, this game is packed to the gills with things to do. Every level rewards some degree of exploration (so many Titanium Bolts), and everyone is sure to find a combination of weapons that’ll perfectly suit their play style.
The battlefield scenarios and arena missions are perfect for leveling up your weapons, and the game shines with all the enemies thrown at you. It’s a game packed to the gills with stuff to do, and all of it’s a blast to go through. Even the multiplayer is a lot fun, though it probably would’ve succeeded more had the game originally come out now or during the PS3 era.
Really, Up Your Arsenal is fantastic, and you should play it. Like, right now. Go do that, find a PS3, the Ratchet Collection and play it.