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Ratchet & Clank HD Review 2/3

August 6, 2012

The boys are back in town!

The start of Ratchet & Clank 2 picks up with our victorious duo chilling. Just chilling, nothing special, but that’s the point. Nothing special has happened and Ratchet is hungering for some more adventure, to save more endangered populous, lock and load some extreme weapons.

And luckily for Ratchet, this desire is heard by Abercombie Fizzwidget, the CEO of the mega corporation aptly named Megacorp. Ratchet and Clank must head to the Bogon Galaxy to save Megacorp’s latest experimental prototype, Protopet, from the clutches of a devious thief.

The new whirlwind adventure takes Ratchet and his robotic pal Clank all the way round the Bogon galaxy as they fight to save yet another galaxy, including dealing with a special appearance of a blast from the past. I prefer not to spoil even if it is a 9 year old game because it’s a brilliant reveal, and if I have inspired anyone to pick up the HD collection I would like to keep some mystery.

The first dramatic difference between Ratchet & Clank 2 and Ratchet & Clank is the gameplay, and this is mainly thanks to the lock-strafe functionality, which has been added to Ratchet & Clank 2. Lock-strafe allows to, well, strafe, if you hadn’t guessed, making it easy to stay away from enemies, aim your shots and not run around like a loon in the middle of a pack of enemies with your finger jammed down on the trigger. Another fantastic feature is that while jumping in lock-strafe, Ratchet will backflip and sideflip automatically, which makes for some intense firefights and means that you can always enjoy the enemy encounters rather than furiously fire blindly and hope your shots hit first.

Take that! And that!

Insomniac introduced upgrades in Ratchet & Clank by letting the player basically melt down the elusive Gold Bolts and paint his or her arsenal Gold with a few new damage and effect boosts. But this time Insomniac went for broke and made literally anything in Ratchet’s arsenal upgradable, parring the gadgets unfortunately.

The player can gain a lot of these upgrades through experience and yes, you read that right: EXPERIENCE. Just like in an RPG, Ratchet’s health will grow at an almost continuous rate parallel to the number of enemies you bash on the head, shoot, blow up and generally are unpleasant to. This experience applies to your weapons as well. The more you use a weapon, the more experience it will gain. And once you top up that experience bar, the weapon will undergo a dramatic metamorphosis and gain an all new look and bang, bounce or boom. For example, the Gravity Bomb becomes the Mini-Nuke, which then on a second playthrough can be upgraded to the Mega Mini-Nuke and then upgraded one last time into the Ultra Mini-Nuke.

Weapons can also be modded by visiting a shady wheel-dealer by the name of Slim Cognito. These mods are bought with Platinum Bolts (obviously bolts are a lot classier in the Bogon Galaxy). These mods can help you lock onto enemies, cover them with acid or electrify them.

And let’s not forget the Commando’s greatest ally, his armour, and man, does Ratchet get some sweet-looking armour. There are four individual upgrades from the initial armour, each giving you more protection from damage, but also giving you one massive dent in your wallet. The Carbonox Armour, the top-level armour, costs a MILLION bolts. But that’s small money compared with all the weapon upgrades you’ll end up buying in your second playthrough. The RYNO in the first Ratchet & Clank was a tiny 150,000 bolts, but that took an almost entire playthrough to earn. But the helpful little gameplus multiplier is the answer to Ratchet’s monetary problems. If you managed to string together enough kills without getting hit, a multiplier will increase your earnings from x2 all the way up to x20. So get good at those backflips and strafing, soldier!

One or two notable weapons finally. The game breaker this time around is known as the Bouncer, and once you got this baby fired up it will literally ruin any enemy in its path. In some ways it makes the final boss an anti-climax because it can literally dispatch anyone with insane ease.

The other weapon of note it what I called the Health Hazard. The HK-22 Gun, the upgraded version of the seeker gun. Fires three seeker missiles that dart towards nearby enemies and blow them sky high. Unfortunately when a seeker missile explodes, the screen momentarily flashes white and, well, if you end up spamming the weapon you are in serious danger of giving yourself an epileptic fit. I had to take a breather sometimes. So seriously, look at the health warnings at the start. But don’t let that put you off playing this wonderful game. Ratchet & Clank 2 started the formula that all Ratchet & Clanks followed (barring Gladiator and All 4 One), and it has definitely stood the test of time. It works, so why bother changing it.

Yeah! You want a piece?

One new big aspect of the game is the mini-games, or how Insomniac coined them: Maxi-Games.

The Maxi-Games let Ratchet compete in the gladiatorial arenas or in space in his own starfighter (which can be upgraded using Raritanium), as well as take part in pulse-pounding hoverbike racing. All of these Maxi-Games let Ratchet earn big bucks, which helps out a lot, as well as giving the player something to break the pace and enjoy themselves by fighting in front of a huge crowd, piloting through gigantic asteroids and speeding through jungles and desert canyons in hot-blooded racing competitions.

There is so much to do and see in Ratchet & Clank 2. Insomniac took everything in the first game and multiplied it by a factor of hundred. This game has endless hours of joy to give and endless amounts of replayability.

Rocket beats shield!

Unfornuately, this transfer is again spoilt occassionally with the random pieces of slow-down and the cutscenes not having been given the HD spit-shine. However, ingame looks crisp and gorgeous. It’s almost so sharp you’ll cut your eyeballs.

All in all I enjoyed coming back to Ratchet & Clank 2. This is where the series started to fall into its stride, being funny, witty and unashamedly lovable and goofy. I heartedly recommend this to anyone, even if you haven’t played the first game or if you didn’t enjoy the first game. Ratchet & Clank 2 was one giant step for the duo and it’s brilliant, but for me my one last step is playing Ratchet & Clank 3, the only game in the entire series which I haven’t played.

This is gunna be good.

Image Links: Gamespot.com, Gamespot.com, Ratchet and Clank Wikia: Carbonox Armour, Ratchetclank.neoseeker.com

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