What’s with the subtitle?
The second instalment featuring the fluffy hero and his metal friend stands out already because of its title – or should I say titles? While the developers intended to call the game Ratchet&Clank: Going Commando it was brought to my attention that it seems that in certain territories this can also mean "running around in underpants" [please mail me if you know where on this planet this is true, I’m really curious], so in some countries the subtitle was changed to "Locked and Loaded". But some countries were still not happy with this solution and decided to leave the subtitle out at all – this explains the odd and empty space in the introduction logo. Quite interesting, don’t you think? ... Ok, ok I will get to the game...
Seal of quality
Why waste much time talking about the technical aspects of the game if we expect nothing but the best? Although some developers have proven to be not worthy of the trust we've in them any more, the guys at Insomniac Games – and most of Sony’s other studios as well - are not exactly known for releasing buggy nor rushed games. The graphics show what the PS2 is capable of, the music is catchy and the dialogues are witty. Your decision whether to buy the game or not will not be troubled by technical issues, take my word for it – or just look at our vast screenshots gallery and read on...
They are back
The game starts where the first game already started - in Ratchet’s cosy little workshop / garage. After defeating evil chairman Drek in the first game, their adventures continued yet in a more "domestic" kind of way. Well to tell the truth their life got boring... that’s it. After you got used to blowing up lots of stuff you would miss it too, wouldn’t you? A problem quite common these days as presidents of certain countries are often happy to demonstrate...
Well, anyway Ratchet also misses his "weapons of mass destruction", and so he is more than eager to accept an offer from Mr. Fizzwidget, the CEO of MegaCorp - yet another "one of the biggest companies in the universe" who is looking for someone to complete a vital mission for his company. To aid him on his mission Ratchet receives a special commando training and for the first time in the series also has an armour. The body vest and included helmet already feature some of the skills and gadgets you had yet to obtain in the first game. Using his helmet Ratchet can breathe underwater and swim large distances, while the armour has a built-in propulsion system increasing your speed underwater. Ratchet all in armour is an unusual sight, and even worse Clank isn’t with him on his first mission! While you'll have to get used to the armour, rest assured that you will meet up with Clank again before long.
Ratchet is sent on a mission pretty soon because a deceitful thief has stolen MegaCorp’s newest project - a genetically engineered pet, a real bundle of joy: a blue, fluffy and lovely little furball. Of course things aren’t that simple and there is (literally) more than meets the eye but as gamers we should be used to this...
Be frank with yourself and admit you have been waiting for this. The first game was already infamous for its arsenal of weapons that no Doom, Quake, nor Unreal can beat - and of course the developers added even more means of blowing things and enemies up. And the developers haven’t been lazy. They not only developed a whole new set of weapons, but many new gadgets, boots and backpacks as well. In the last game you could upgrade your weapons only after you had finished the game for at least once - this time you have many more options.
Weapons automatically upgrade if you use them a lot. For every hit you score with a specific weapon it gains "experience" and after a while it will transform itself into a more potent form. Besides increasing the gun's fire power, its appearance and name will change as well, and also the rate of fire and max ammo might increase. Also the infamous mysterious "platinum" bolts are back, and this time you can trade them in for even more special weapon upgrades, like a lock-on feature, acid mods that deal additional damage over time, and others. The new weapons are real fun to use and their improved versions are except for a few exceptions awesome, yes almost a little unfair especially early in the game – later in the game though you will be in serious need for the additional "bang".
Another weapon feature I really appreciate is the fact that if you played the original Ratchet&Clank, you get a special reward. Only a few levels – or should I say planets – into the game you will find a quite special shop, and if you still have your Ratchet and Clank save on your Memory Card prepare for some goodies, as you will get almost all the weapons you acquired in the original game FOR FREE, and the weapons you perhaps "missed" in the original can be bought for a reasonable price. Don’t get too excited yet though. While it is nice to see the "old" weapons back, the enemies certainly have become tougher and meaner since the last game, and the old weapons no longer have the impact you are maybe used to. The "old" weapons lack the possibility to gain experience and "evolve", but they are only goodies after all.
But weapons aren’t the only thing that can be upgraded. Introducing some kind of RPG element Ratchet’s health will increase over time depending on the number of defeated enemies. This time he isn’t limited to only a few "nanotech" health containers, but his maximum health can be increased several times, although the enemies can also deal a lot more damage – don’t think you are invincible only because your health is maxed out. At this point also the armour you wear – as well upgradeable, but only at special vendors – kicks in. The different armours apply a modifier to the damage you receive negating up to 66 percent of the original damage.
Yet there is more
Ratchet&Clank or its "stepbrother", Jak&Daxter as well for that matter, wouldn’t be Ratchet&Clank or Jak&Daxter if besides the main element of the game – jumping around, exploring, enjoying some stunning visuals and blowing things up – there weren’t lots of mini games.
Mini-Racing games can be found in so many games today that they almost aren’t worth mentioning any more, but there is of course much more. Ratchet has to use a glider to reach certain places, and the glider is not only a little slow to react to changes of direction, but a partial collision with an obstacle will cause you to crash as well. Using some kind of Jet Pack Ratchet will travel in more narrow places, but if you run out of fuel... Of course the infamous "grind" boots are back as well to train your reflexes.
Spaceship battles are back again too, but this time you can upgrade your ship with lots of goodies like additional weapons, shields, engines, and for your personal pleasure you can even choose custom painting and your preferred set of wings. Upgrading your ship costs so called "Raritanum". that can be obtained by destroying other ships or you can find it on certain planets.
Two planets - I don’t recall their name, but we will call them "Hoth" and "Tantooine" for now, as they describe the pleasant climates there very well even if you only have a slight idea of what trademarks I’m abusing here – are very good places to start with. Not offering too many missions, they are rich on resources to make up for that. Using special mining vehicles you can dig up more of the rare Raritanium or collect valuable crystals in the critter infested deserts that local hermits will happily buy from you for quite some serious cash.
Another way to raise cash is to compete in the galaxy wide gladiator battles. Lots of ammo plus lots of enemies equals lots of things to blow up and lots of fun. Any questions?
But don’t forget about Clank. The morphing platforms that transform the cute little metal head into a giant fighting machine are back again, and he has not only to overcome some quite potent enemies this time, but also his very own levels are back. Again you can control other bots, but this time you can control a wider range of different bots. A Bridge bot can make obstacles passable, a lifter bot can... well take a guess - and there are others as well.
Let’s sum it up – racing, gliding, flying, grinding, spaceship battles, mining, collecting, space battles, arena fights, clashing mechs and little bots at your command – should be enough to keep you entertained for some time even while abroad the main game, don’t you think?
Can robots have girlfriends? Are all thieves bad? Do robots really wear towels when they have to answer the door while taking a shower? If you want answers to these quite serious questions and want a fantastic Jump’n’Run / action mix coming free with every copy of answers - all you need to do, is do yourself a favour and get this game.