“Ratchet, a self-taught mechanic who has a special knack for building and repairing things, lives on a backwater world in an abandoned arm of a forgotten solar system. Off in a distant quadrant closer to the center of the galaxy, Chairman Drek rules a polluted planet, Orxon, inhabited by an ugly race called the Blarg. The Blarg are tired of their polluted world and as their leader, Chairman Drek has come up with the ultimate solution – [use an army of evil robots] to build a new planet using the best parts from many of the other worlds in the galaxy. A computer glitch creates a diminutive but brainy robot – Clank. Clank learns about Chairman Drek’s plans and since he has a conscience, he flees the factory, seeking help. Unfortunately for Clank, the bad guys equipped with heavily armed ships, shoot Clank’s ship down over Ratchet’s homeworld. From this moment on, Ratchet and Clank are forced together by circumstance, and the game follows them as they blast off from planet to planet blowing up everything that stands in their way as they uncover more and more of Chairman Drek’s plans.” This is the plot behind Sony Computer Entertainment’s new action, adventure game for the PlayStation 2 called Ratchet & Clank.
The game begins as you (playing the part of Ratchet) use your mechanical skills to operate all kinds of out-of-this-world weaponry, which will aid you in helping Clank find the one person who can save the galaxy – Captain Qwark. Initially, you start off with one weapon – the Omniwrench 8000 (Quick smack anything within arms length, execute a multi-strike combo attack or throw it like a boomerang). As you begin each successive level, you can visit a Gadgetron vendor in order to purchase new weapons as well as ammunition for those weapons. To find your way around, you can use the Planet Map to show you where you need to go and where you’ve been. In addition, your partner Clank can lend a hand by giving you access to Infobots – small robots that display special video information that usually reveals clues about new locations. Infobots also provide planetary coordinates for your shipboard computer so that you can travel to new planets.
Each new planet you visit requires that you complete a mission on that planet. Each mission consists of a list of tasks that must be accomplished before the mission can be considered completed. When you complete a mission, a new destination becomes available to you. And some missions are actually dependent on others, meaning in order to complete one mission you need to complete tasks from another mission. As you make your way around each planet, you’ll notice nuts and bolts lying around here and there. You need bolts to buy weapons, ammo and gadgets. If you have enough bolts, you can purchase the things you need from a Gadgetron vendor, so in addition to completing missions, collecting bolts is also imperative. In addition to the bolts you find lying around, you’ll notice that as you defeat enemies, they’ll cough up bolts for your collection. You can also find bolts inside of bolt crates, which are placed throughout each planet. If you’re lucky, you’ll also find some gold bolts. These are special bolts that can be used to purchase rare equipment, which I’ll talk about later. Throughout each mission, you’ll also find other useful objects, such as Gadgetron and Nanotech crates. If you find a box with the letter G on it, you know you’ve found a genuine Gadgetron crate containing valuable ammo needed for your weapons. But if you’ve already maxed out the ammo level for a weapon, you won’t be able to pick up the crate contents. Nanotech crates can be used to heal injuries from the inside out using Nanobots. Just touch the crate to activate it. You carry four Nanotech Spheres with you at all times, which signify your level of health. If you lose all your spheres, you lose a life.
The fighting in Ratchet & Clank is pretty standard. You have a number of basic moves such as Run, Walk, Jump, and Fire Weapon. There are also a set of fighting moves such as Double Jump, Swing Wrench, Multi-Strike, Hyper-Strike, and Comet-Strike. But the real fun in Ratchet & Clank are the variety of weapons and gadgets that you get to use as you make your way through the game. I already mentioned the Omniwrench 8000. In addition, there’s the Bomb Glove (which puts some serious medium range explosive power in the palm of your hand), the Swing Shot (a grappling hook-like device designed to attach itself to Swing Shot Versa-Target accessories and launch you across vast distances), the Pyrocitor (the Gadgetron version of a flamethrower), the Blaster (a weapon that offers rapid-fire reliability, devastating firepower and highly accurate shots), the Glove of Doom (a glove that releases Doom Eggs, which quickly hatch into a quartet of mini search-and-destroy robots that are affectionately called Agents of Doom), the Suck Cannon (a weapon-grade vacuum cleaner that can be used to literally suck up small enemies), and the Trespasser (a high-tech lock pick that can hack into any Laser Invinco-Lock system). These are just a few of the available accoutrements. There are many more, some of which are very esoteric like the weapon that lets you turn your enemies into chickens. Really, I’m not kidding! Come to think of it, something like that would come in handy when dealing with some of my neighbors, but I digress…
As you play Ratchet & Clank, you’ll see the wonderful graphics and animation present in the game. The developers did an excellent job at keeping the animation smooth even in the busy fight scenes. And the characters, especially Ratchet, Clank and the enemy bosses, provide some very convincing facial expressions. You won’t see any blood or gore in this game, but there is plenty of violence and there are lots of explosions, which is why this game is rate T for teen rather than E for Everyone. Ratchet & Clank has an excellent sound track with music that conveys the mode of each mission very nicely. The sound effects are also very well done as is the voice acting. What I really enjoyed, however, is the fact that the game supports Dolby Pro Logic II. Playing Rachet & Clank in surround sound gives it a whole new dimension with sounds coming from all sides and explosions that really rock your insides. Very cool.
I have to confess that I’m a sucker for platform-type games, but I only enjoy them when they’re really well done. Ratchet & Clank, in my opinion, is one of the best platformers I’ve ever played. Yes, it still sticks to the basic premise of the genre, but it provides so much fun and engaging variety that you can’t help enjoying yourself. I mean come on, a weapon that turns your enemies into chickens? How cool is that? Not to mention the fact that while many platform games lack the depth that many players crave, Ratchet & Clank provides hours and hours of gameplay, challenging bosses, and even some side-adventures that I’ll let you find out about on your own. I’ve heard that the developers are already hard at work on the next version of the game. I can’t wait to see it because this one was a heck of a lot of fun!