Sunday, September 6, 2009

Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando (PS2) Retro Review

Continuing our series of Ratchet & Clank video game reviews on the way to A Crack in Time, here's Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando for the Playstation 2. Being the first Ratchet game I played, how well has it aged since I first played it?

Going, Going, Gone!

Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando was the first game in the series I played. Of course, it holds a special place in my heart, but putting nostalgia aside, is Going Commando a game that deserved my applause? With new locations, new characters, new weapons and gadgets, and new gameplay elements, is Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando a game that's qwarktastic?

It's been awhile since Ratchet and Clank teamed up to save the universe from the power-hungry despot Drek. The galaxy is at peace, and no one really needs a hero anymore. Instead of saving the day, Ratchet and Clank are relegated to ribbon ceremonies and laying about Ratchet's home. This is until the pair is transported to another galaxy by Megacorp president Abercrombie Fizzwidget. He tasks the two with securing a captured creature known only as "the Experiment". What follows is an adventure in a totally new galaxy with characters old and new. Unlike the original Ratchet & Clank, the two heroes have gotten over their initial hostilities and get along well. The trademark humor of the franchise is present and accounted for, and it will have you laughing or at least smiling here and there.

Planet Oozla is a swamp planet.

Variety is the spice of life, and it's also the spice of Ratchet & Clank's newest adventure. When Ratchet and Clank aren't separated from one another, flying their spaceship and taking part in dogfights, racing hoverbikes in something with the mechanics that could be a full-fledged game, or beating down bosses as Giant Clank, Ratchet and Clank will be jumping on platforms, blasting away baddies, grinding on a series of rails with their grind boots, walking on walls with the magnetic boots, mining for Moonstones and crystals, and competing in gladiator-inspired coliseum battles. There's over a dozen different planets for the heroic duo to explore. Each one features at least two linear paths with occasional detours to follow. The goal of each planet is to find the clue that will show what planet the crew needs to venture to next. Checkpoints are much more abundant this time around, and you're notified when you've reached one. The days of taking five minutes to redo a section of level are over for the most part. This is also in part of the new health system. As enemies are defeated, an experience bar below Ratchet's health will increase. Once it reaches full capacity, Ratchet will earn a new sliver of health. Up to eighty of these can be earned opposed to the eight of the original Ratchet & Clank.

Ratchet has a bounty of weapons and gadgets in his arsenal, and this time his weapons get evolve into more powerful forms with repeated use. As a weapon gets used to destroy enemies, a bar underneath the weapon's ammo amount increases. Once it reaches full capacity, the weapon transforms into a stronger version. An ordinary Lancer pistol will turn into the Heavy Lancer with more ammo and more firepower. There's twenty or so weapons to collect and upgrade. Some of which are found in the game's levels while others are to be purchased with bolts, the currency of the series, from weapons vendors. The amount of firepower is vast and varied. There's the mine-erupting Bouncer, the fire-spewing Lava Gun, the Sheepinator which transforms enemies into harmless sheep, and many more.


Gadgets new and old return from the original Ratchet & Clank. The returning favorite, the Swingshot, is used to swing across chasms. Meanwhile, new gadgets are all the rage these days, and Ratchet's bag is full of them. The tractor beam is used to move around specially-designated objects around. The earliest use of this is to arrange columns into a row of platforms for Ratchet to reach higher ground. There's also the Therminator which freezes warm water or warms freezing water. The Dynamo is used to create holographic platforms for Ratchet to leap off from while the Hypnomatic controls robots which can open the way for the pair. Gadgets like the Infilitrator and Electolyzer open locked doors for the pair when their respective mini-games are cleared. Each gadget is used throughout the duration of the game, so no one gadget is used once and only once.

Nothing starts a party like a mini-nuke.

Going Commando controls very tightly. You move Ratchet with the left stick while controlling the camera with the right stick. Clank is on Ratchet's back, and Ratchet can use Clank for extra height in his jumps or to hover safely to far away platforms. Weapons and gadgets can be placed in the quick select menu which is brought up with the triangle button. This is a fast way of selecting a weapon or gadget without needing to head to the pause menu. This time around Ratchet can strafe with the L2 and R2 buttons, so he can move around while keeping focus on his targeted foes. You can even go into first-person mode to take out foes from a closer-in perspective. The hoverbike and spaceship missions control well, too. They're responsive and feel very good as well.

Ratchet brings the pain.

For most players, Going Commando will take upwards of ten hours. Once the game is completed (and after the disappointing final boss fight), players can opt to enter Challenge Mode. This makes the enemies more difficult, but it also rewards players will more bolts. Bolts in Challenge Mode can be used to purchase Mega versions of the game's multitude of weapons. Hidden on each planet are platinum bolts. While these aren't as well-hidden as Ratchet & Clank, they are test to uncover them all. These can be used to purchase mods such as acid and lock-on upgrades for already-purchased weapons. If that's not enough to keep you occupied, there's skill points which are hidden goals in planets that unlock cheats such as new skins for Ratchet. Such goals include beating a boss with only the wrench and completing a part of a level without getting hit.

Going Commando is still a good-looking game. There's seldom any hints of slow-down or framerate problems. However, there is some pop-in with faraway objects, but it doesn't really detract from the experience. Worlds are vibrant and detailed as are the character models. Going Commando is a visual marvel. The soundtrack is one of the series' best with wonderful music that's memorable and hummable, too. Voice acting is top-shelf material with great dialogue and comedic delivery. Overall, Going Commando's presentation package does not disappoint.

Grinding is one of many gameplay
styles in Going Commando.

Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando is a terrific entry and does everything bigger and better than the original. The difficulty is more toned down, the characters are more likable, the worlds are more detailed, the story is more entertaining, and the secrets are more varied. If you've never played Going Commando, do yourself a favor and put down the twenty dollars it costs to play this gem of a game. For a sensational series, this is a sensational game.

[SuperPhillip Says: 9.5/10]

1 comment:

Val said...

Nice review, from it I got the idea that this is a futuristic game in a distant galaxy where you level up your guy and weapon. (Also vaguely remound me of Mario and Luigi Super Star Saga)