Friday, November 6, 2009

Rank Up! - Ratchet & Clank

Originally it was my plan to review every single Ratchet & Clank game from start to finish. Unfortunately, I became ill during this mission, so that obviously didn't happen. Regardless, the newest adventure in the Ratchet & Clank series, A Crack in Time just released this past week. I don't think there's any better time to take a look at the various titles from the Ratchet & Clank series and rank them from best to worst.

Here are the games we'll be ranking:

Ratchet & Clank (PS2)
Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando (PS2)

Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal (PS2)

Ratchet: Deadlocked (PS2)

Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction (PS3)

Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters (PSP/PS2)

Like Naughty Dog before it, the team at Insomniac sold off their first mascot to another company. The company had previous worked on Spyro the Dragon, a character now a mere shell of his former self. Insomniac moved from purple dragon to yellow lombax as they came out with Ratchet & Clank. Since then seven mainline titles have been released in less than a decade. We will list from the very first Ratchet game all the way up to the very first portable entry of the series. To make a point, there's really no horrible game on this list. Every Ratchet has had something special to offer to the series. Without further ado, let's get to the rankings.

6) Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters (PSP/PS2)

Apparently size truly does matter as this Ratchet & Clank, while not bad by any means, suffers from a lack of two analog sticks, a short single-player mode, and a game not developed by Insomniac themselves. Instead High Impact Games (who worked on Daxter and the upcoming new PSP Jak & Daxter game) took on the job and did a rather decent job. Size Matters is a forgettable adventure, but it's still much fun.

5) Ratchet: Deadlocked (PS2)

It's funny-- I argue that the Ratchet series has become complacent with same-old, same-old gameplay, yet when one tries to change the formula around, I don't like it as much as the original! This is the case with Ratchet: Deadlocked, the only game in the series that isn't an action-platformer or features Ratchet and Clank teaming up together. What the game is-is more of an arena battler, combat-centric shooter. Despite the change of genre, Deadlocked is quite enjoyable, but those expecting traditional R&C action should look elsewhere.

4) Ratchet & Clank (PS2)

This is where it all started. This may be the most difficult game of the series solely based on the fact that you have a limited supply of health to work with. The option to increase your health wasn't available simply by taking down foes. Essentially it was six hits or less, and you were S.O.L. Another problem with this game is the lack of checkpoints. Don't misunderstand me, there are checkpoints, but they're so few and far in-between that dying can be quite frustrating. Overall, the premier installment of the franchise is still quite a good one.

3) Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction (PS3)

The first current generation installment of the Ratchet series, Tools of Destruction, follows Ratchet on his path to find out what happened to his race all the while dealing a power-hungry despot who wishes to eradicate every last lombax. The game starts off with an action-packed level full of wonderful set pieces and explosions. Tools of Destruction looks exceptionally beautiful. It's not so much that there are any major problems with this game-- it's just that the next two are just a bit better.

2) Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal (PS2)

In Up Your Arsenal, we were introduced to the most entertaining main villain of any bad guy in the series, the nefarious Dr. Nefarious. Most of his scenes were comedic gold. The tried and true action of the Ratchet series was present and accounted for, but after playing the game before it, Going Commando, things felt samey straight down to the arena battles and looking for sewer crystals in one of most boring levels in series history. This time around, weapons could be upgraded four separate times, growing stronger with each new level of increased power. One of my favorite parts of Up Your Arsenal is a series of five 2-D side-scrolling platformer/shooters starring everyone's lovable idiot, Captain Qwark. Heck, I'd spend good hard money on a PSN game full of levels of this type! That's how good they are.

1) Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando (PS2)

The best of the best, Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando, combines the perfect amount of action with the perfect amount of platforming. Unlike the original Ratchet, weapons can now be upgraded to become more powerful simply by using them frequently. Apart from the traditional run, gun, and jump action the series is known for, there's several bits of variety thrown in for good measure including space dogfights, fast-paced hoverbike races, coliseum battles, and fights with you controlling Giant Clank. The levels are some of the best designed, there's a heavy focus on both platforming and shooting, and the polish of the game is amazingly apparent. Going Commando certainly is my favorite Ratchet & Clank game.

And that does it for this list. My worries with the Ratchet series is that Insomniac has busted out seven games in less than a decade. Many of which feel the same gameplay-wise. Here's hoping we don't get burned out on this excellent series!

1 comment:

SpinachPuffs said...

The only Ratchet and Clank game I actually owned and played was Going Commando (or simply "Ratchet and Clank 2" as it was here in Europe - the innuendo-themed subtitles were never used on our side of the pond). It's nice to know that my only taste of the series was at its peak :D