Resident Evil 7: Biohazard & The Dangling Carrot

June 17, 2016 no comments Posted in Playstation & Sony, Video Games

THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE RESIDENT EVIL 7 BEGINNING HOUR DEMO. IF YOU HAVE PLAYSTATION PLUS, I SUGGEST YOU GO PLAY IT INSTEAD OF READING THIS, I THINK IT’S QUITE GOOD.

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This week at E3, Capcom revealed Resident Evil 7: Biohazard (seemingly sometimes stylised as RESIDENT EVII_ or whatever nonsense they think looks cool) along with releasing a demo titled “The Beginning Hour” to PS+ subscribers. The demo starts with you waking up in a deserted house’s living room, the walls are peeling away, the lights don’t work, and a TV is flickering with static and deafening you with white noise. Typical modern horror fare. It gives you a simple objective, or so it seems, “Get out of the house”. But here comes the twist. No-one’s done it. At the time of writing it has been three days since the release of this demo and from what I can see not one single person online has managed to do it. As of now, we have found two possible “endings”. The first involves you finding the key to the front door of the house and attempting to walk out of it, only to be met by a tap on the shoulder and a knockout blow from a seemingly zombified character fans have dubbed “The Family Man” (he is unfortunately not Guile from Street Fighter, as far as we know. Crossover potential, Capcom?) as he utters the sentence now eternally burned into my brain “Welcome to the family, son”. The other “ending” involves you opening the stairs to the attic and answering a phone (curiously situated beside a photograph of a helicopter with the Umbrella logo on it) after which you receive the familiar greeting from the high-functioning zombie dad. This all seems pretty standard until you realise that neither of these ending take nearly an hour to get to. Two other confusing factors are the axe and dummy finger items, both of which seem to do absolutely nothing, which has of course driven certain corners of the internet completely insane, myself included. Add to this mixed messages from Capcom on whether or not they actually do anything and it makes you wonder if this risk was really worth it for Capcom, leading their most die-hard fans to be bored half to death by attempting to use various items on everything in the house they can find. If this ending is patched in then they will have left these scavengers very disillusioned with the game. No-one knows whether or not they’re working towards something, yet they keep going.

 

The situation of course calls to mind Kojima’s 2014 experiment PT, but the key difference is that PT was solved within the day by accident on a livestream. PT was meant to be this grand collaborative scheme, which this might finally be. But right now, we’re waiting to see the rest of this beginning hour.

Dying Light is good I guess(PC)

June 1, 2016 no comments Posted in PC, Playstation & Sony, Video Games, Xbox & Microsoft

Dying Light is an open world survival horror game where zombies happen in a quarantined section of a relatively run down city called Harram and you’re sent there to retrieve an important ducument. DL incorporates a dynamic parkour system to a large degree, which you can often use to avoid slicing through hoards of walking meat(are humans Kosher, or are they Harram?).


Combat

Dying Light is almost a sequel to Dead Island, and by that I mean it pretty much is a sequel but it’s creators are not saying it is and it doesn’t appear to be set in the same universe, just one that’s very slightly different. They are both quite similar, but Dying Light is a major improvement over Dead Island.
Like Dead Island, combat is melee focused and finicky until you learn it’s intricacies, where it would definitely become rather rinse-and-repeat had Techland not include the progressive addition of enemies and abilities, which do well to keep it exciting. The abilities in Dying Light are mostly well designed and balanced —  their use depends on your scenery and what you’re fighting, a trait which successfully avoids over-reliance on a single combat routine over and over. A small nitpick is that there are a few things which feel out of place in the usually realistic feeling Dying Light universe such as craftable remedies that are way too effective and some other slightly cartoonish effects(Electricity for example stays with an object for seconds while arcing across its surface)

All melee weapons have a finite durability, they can be repaired but only a few times. I think this is a rather cheap attempt to make weapon retrieval more rewarding and to get players using multiple weapons. It makes using good weapons feel bad, like I’m wasting it. Mediocre weapons are plentiful, but saying goodbye to my favourite, customised weapon when it breaks forever makes me feel sad :(.
I certainly understand why Techland made weapons have such a short lifespan, if a player found a good weapon that lasted forever, they would have no insentive to search for loot, collect money etc.
They already sort of fixed this by having zombies get stronger as the player levels up while also unlocking new weapons, which in effect slowly makes your weapons less effective against them so when you get a new one it feels very powerful against them, but actually isn’t(weapons do improve slightly faster than zombies). Though I’m not a fan of this method and its affect isn’t strong enough keep players interested in looting on its own.
Dying Light is certainly better with finite weapon repairs than without thembut its a flawed solution.


Story

I’ve only seen people complain about it, but DL’s story is pretty good. The plot provided a constant sense of urgency(Maybe too much urgency, I felt bad having a free-running race while my allies were slowly dying). Some moments were misses, DL has some issues showing emotions and I think maybe it needs to be told it’s okay to cry, though there were certainly some good emotional scenes.

The worldbuilding however is amazing, Techland did a good job constructing an immersive universe with depth that still fits well in game format.
Night time is terrifiying in a way that gets my adrenaline going, and it does it without jump scares or making the player powerless – A lot of horror games lock the player in a flight position which isn’t particularly difficult and ‘flight’ often doesn’t require very much attention. In DL, we have fight and/or flight. There were several instances of these physiological affects happening to me as I played the game.

 


Summary

The levels are massive, populated, diverse and the player and infected both interact with them nicely. The art and graphics are great(apart from the unwanted effects and Gameworks), combat is exiting, the campaign is good and the side quests are plentifuloverall, I’d give Dying Light 7.9/10

I’d recommend this game if you liked Dead Island or melee action games and you have a good PC(Gameworks doesn’t work so well with AMD because nvidia works better with profits than consumers). The horror is good, but not overwhelming and can be avoided by sleeping through the night.

 

 

 

 

-Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy- Review

May 24, 2016 no comments Posted in Playstation & Sony, Video Games

Before the PS2 Naughty Dog were only known for making Crash Bandicoot before selling him off after 3 games and a racing title. Now let’s see the beginnings of the franchise on the PS2 where they did pretty much the same thing to it; 3 games and a racing title before abandonment.

Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy was released for, as mentioned, the PS2. The developers wanted a to create a new and unique series for the PS2 to go along with its status as a new console. In 1999 while some of Naughty Dog were working on Crash Team Racing others were working on the game then known as Project Y. After a development period of nearly 3 years the game released in December 3rd 2001. Many of you already know I love the series, hell I named my dogs after the title character but can I recommend the first game after nearly 15 years? Well that question will be answered if you read. Or not, but if you’re here then I presume you have nothing better to do.

-When something goes wrong in the happy-go-lucky world of somewhere-

Jak and Daxter are two teens who live in Sandover Village. The former doesn’t talk while the latter doesn’t know how to stop talking. The two ignore the warnings of a cranky green eco sage named Samos and decide to take a boat out to Misty Island and explore for some reason. After arriving, they see two figures plotting with an army of Lurkers. The duo, worried by what they are seeing, prepare to leave, but are attacked by a large Lurker. Jak manages to destroy it using a barrel of Eco, but the explosion throws Daxter into a pool of Dark Eco. Daxter flies back out of the pit, transformed into an ottsel which is a otter/weasel hybrid thing.

They seek help from Samos who states that only Gol Acheron, the Sage of Dark Eco, could change Daxter back. However the other sages that could teleport them to him have mysteriously deactivated their teleportation gates so the duo will need to go on foot, using Power Sta- I mean Cells to get past the macguffin walls the game will throw at them. The game continues as Jak and Daxter learn that the Blue and Red sages of eco have gone missing and sure enough, the culprits of their disappearance turn out to be Gol and Maia. The two have been corrupted by Dark Eco and now wish to flood the world with it by destroying ancient silos full of them left by the Precursor Race long ago.

After making it to their citadel the heroes defeat the villains as they operate a Precursor robot, locking them within one of the Dark Eco silos with Daxter getting himself to accept his new life as a talking ottsel. They celebrate with the rescued sages, Jak fails at getting some from Samos’ daughter Keira, and then they discover a precursor door that can only be opened by getting 100 out of the 101 Power Cells. Upon doing so the team are greeted with a blinding light that is supposed to give us a sequel hook. The story is nothing noteworthy, I mean I skimmed over the mysterious precursors who have left pieces of their somehow more advanced old technology all across the land which includes an entire underwater city however we’re not given any more details besides that. The main focus is on, as you’d expect, the interactions between NPCs and such when getting Power Cells along with the game’s dialogue. Jak may not talk but the kid sure knows how to express himself otherwise, he has a lot more character than you’d think a silent protagonist could have. Daxter can get annoying to some and I’ll be the first to argue his humor is worse here but when his dialogue works off Jak it is great. And Samos’ crankiness is done right in a way that works without the player getting sick of him.

Animations and voice acting is all well and good. I’ve heard some people who don’t like the art style but the type of American cartoonishness they’re going for works to the game’s benefit in my book. The game has a amazing set of colors for locales and character designs that doesn’t make you get tired of looking at the game’s list of locations and NPCs.

-SUPER JAK AND DAXTER 64? BANJO KADAXTER?-

Yep, this game is a good old fashioned collectathon and a extremely well made one too. Completing tasks get you Power Cells either by using your platforming skills or by completing missions and minigames for the NPCs. Precursor Orbs are used to purchases Power Cells from NPCs and collecting all 7 Scout Flies in a area gets you a Power Cell. Jak can jump, double jump, punch, spin kick, roll, roll jump, perform a long jump and perform a uppercut punch. He can also do a spin kick in the air to gain a bit more time in the air before falling. Jak is also able to manipulate Eco to his advantage. Green Eco restores health, Blue Eco makes him run faster, break boxes in the vicinity, activate devices and attract collectables. Red Eco increases the damage and range of his attacks and Yellow Eco lets him shoot energy from his punches or from his first person view through his goggles. Not great powerups at all but still helpful in their own right and not always situational. Jak controls well enough with a small criticism being his movement speed although that’s easily circumvented via repeated roll jumping.

Overall getting Power Cells is a relaxing enough task, with enough variety to keep things interesting. The game has no load times, its one seamless multi-level world. You can use teleport gates to get around to the villages in when you need to. The details that I adore in this game include the ability to see different parts of the world from various locations and the dynamic soundtrack that adds instruments in certain areas. Speaking of which the soundtrack is good enough, well suited to each situation or locale but the stuff I consider really nice here is the relaxing tracks such as Sentinel Beach’s theme.

That’s more or less a good word to describe this game in general; relaxing. It’s in no way difficult and getting everything doesn’t require a guide, it’s something I also think you can do in a comfortable amount of time. Nothing is too strenuous and if you want to you can just stick with getting the 72 Power Cells to beat the game. You don’t even need all the Orbs to get 101 Power Cells but I get them anyway because it’s not annoying for me to. Again, this is just a relaxing game to play without dumping anything near a lot of time to do so, I can get to 100% in around 9 hours without practice easily. Yep, I recommend this game for those who want a great, well made collectathon that knows it shouldn’t make every area overly massive because it can. It knows how much and how little of everything it should have which includes stage length. Get the PS2 version of the HD version on PSN if you feel like trying it out…just not the Vita version for the love of god, that version is buggy as all hell.

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-TheAceAlucard

-Ratchet and Clank (PS4)- Review

April 29, 2016 no comments Posted in Playstation & Sony, Video Games

Yep, we’re skipping over the PS3 games (for now anyway, it’s mainly because my ToD copy decided to freeze). Ladies and gentlemen after 2009 it became clear Insomniac Games were running out of ideas for their franchise. The game before this one had only 5 planets for god’s sake. Then they got a movie deal for a retelling of the plot of the first game. So obviously we need a game tie in. That’s where a re-imagining of the original Ratchet and Clank for the PS4 comes in.

Ratchet and Clank was released last week this April, with the US getting it a good deal earlier and Europe getting it earlier than us in Ireland. At the time I’m writing this I’ve yet to watch the film. The game was in concurrent development with Rainmaker Entertainment who are behind the film adaption. This lead to there being shared or at least touched character models, environments, animation and some writing between Insomniac and Rainmaker.

I was happy enough to see this kind of direction be taken, and if there was any game that needed fixing it was the first one. Retool the characters to be in line with their less asshole sides from the future games, add upgrade systems, some sexy visuals and new stuff…..instant sell for me. One thing that was odd was how it was a PS4 game being sold for 45 euro. I immediately thought back to the last game in the series which was sold for 30 euro for a reason. There were reassurances this was done to throw back to the original games’ price but I was still uneasy.

“The game, based on the movie, based on the game”

For the sake of this being a recent game/recent film I’ll not bother with a plot summary, especially since it’s just a revamped version of the first game’s plot with some new faces with the Galactic Rangers and Dr. Nefarious there for fanservice. The plot is what it is and that’s all I can really say.  I feel I can’t discuss much for the plot here, especially since part of it as a whole is in the film. Fair Warning: This isnt going to be very long. Once again Ratchet can do everything he could from before so the new things are the things being talked about.

The aiming system is the same from Deadlocked and Into the Nexus, for some reason it was dropped after Deadlocked until the previous game. Also returning from Nexus and ToL is Raritanium. You can find it from hidden ores that you can break open or get it as a random drop from enemies and can use it to upgrade a weapon’s various stats like Range or Rate of Fire. This system, since its introduction in ToD, has always bothered me as it made leveling a weapon up only increase its power but its grown on me considerably although in my opinion getting Raritanium seemed a tad harder here from what I’ve played.

New to the series are Holo-Cards. These cards can be found in packs of 3 or from enemy drops. They all contain images and info on stuff from the series however when you complete a 3 card set you geta increased drop rate for more Bolts, Raritanium or Cards. Completing a Weapon Deck lets you buy its Omega version in Challenge Mode. There are also 9 RYNO cards in the game, find them all and you get this game’s RYNO (game breaker). The best part is you can get the RYNO right before the final two bosses in case things weren’t easy enough for you. I find the Cards to be a nice addition, especially for a fucking fanboy and collecting all of them is pathetically easy in Challenge Mode. Gold Bolts in this game aren’t just used for screwing around with cosmetic stuff and concept art, it’s now used for CHEATS. Want the game at a higher speed? Infinite Ammo? Invulnerability? Granted those last two can only be done right before the final boss but these things don’t turn off Playstation Trophies, they only turn off XP. This makes getting 100% in Challenge Mode a good deal easier and can help you scrubs nuke the final boss faster.

Now…for the downsides. There’s no Arena Battles. No Armor. This game takes a lot from earlier games but not those two for some reason. In fact out of the Weapons you can buy only TWO of them are unique to this game. They’re great weapons (the Pixelizer is fucking amazing) but c’mon only 2 new weapons? Really? In terms of this game being a reboot there is a lot of level design and structure taken from the original. While there is new additions around 70% of the game is better looking versions of the original areas. Speaking of which this game looks fucking fantastic, this game shows how well the PS4 can do more cartoonish environments spectacularly. However like the previous game it only runs at 30fps instead of 60fps. However I’m more okay with that choice here since Nexus LOVED to fall UNDER 30fps while this game has it more constant and uses motion blur as a cover up.

The game is longer than the incredibly short Nexus and Quest for Booty with about 12 planets. I ended up completing it within around 9 hours. In Challenge Mode, since you’re skipping all the cutscenes, you’ll end up with a pathetically short playtime for each run onwards. Speaking of cutscenes the uses both clips from the film and in-game cutscenes. It makes the game feel more like a tie -in game with these clips playing in between the gameplay segments, and the quality of cutscenes with NPC’s aren’t very good quality. The humor is more of what we’ve already seen, with good Ratchet wit….mainly from the cutscenes that are clips from the film. The in-game dialogue is probably the blandest in the series, especially outside story events but even those are a good deal on bland side. Voice acting is great stuff but I can’t stand the one’s for Cora and Victor Von Ion. No they don’t use Stallone for his game counterpart. Ratchet isn’t the jerkass he is in the first game obviously and impressively sounds a good deal younger in his voice acting. We have Captain Qwark narrating the game which is absolutely a great decision. Some of the things he says is obvious stuff although its played for laughs most of the times he does it.

Upon completing the game and getting all the Gold Bolts you can unlock the Insomniac Museum again which is a lot…shitter than its previous entries. It’s just fan service over cut content with some Japanese Ratchet and Clank stuff in there for good measure. At this point Insomniac could cut me a break with the fanservice, this isn’t exactly a series that forgets it’s a series. The soundtrack is decent, I find the first game’s soundtrack to be a lot better but there are some great tracks in here.

In Short

The game is great, but after all the games in the series I’ve played I wanted a lot more out of it than what I got and I feel there’s things missing besides the aforementioned lack of armor and arena challenges. Maybe I’m just sick of the series or disappointed for the wrong reasons but I can still recommend the game, it’s not difficult in any sense and has a immense amount of things going for it. It did what it set out to do I just would like a lot more than what was there but the great fun I had is fun I wanted from this series for at least nearly 3 years. I would say it makes me look forward to the film…that is until a bunch of not-good reviews of the thing started popping up since yesterday. Oh fucking well.

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-TheAceAlucard

-Ratchet Deadlocked- Review

April 1, 2016 no comments Posted in Playstation & Sony, Video Games

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, in every franchise there comes a time of trial. At this point Ratchet and Clank started the trend of spewing out a game every year and a half or so. Now the previous games were of unquestionable quality. However, we have in our hands what may be the first outlier.

 

Ratchet OwTheEdgelocked was released for the PS2 in 2005. Europe once again got a title alteration in the form of Ratchet Gladiator, although I haven’t bothered to check what innuendo or inappropriate phrase “deadlocked” is. Strangely enough when searching for development info on the game next to nothing turned up. Probably appropriate because to a lot of people this game just…”exists”. It apparently got enough attention to garner a digital only HD remaster but we’ll get to THAT later. The game got some positive reviews from critics overall not as much as the previous games though. Although this is a little early to mention, the lack of Clank as a playable character was apparently a point of contention….WHY? I’ve barely mentioned his sections in previous reviews for a reason, I didn’t find them entertaining when they bothered to show up. Enough review stretching though, this isn’t going to take very long.

-ALL HAIL RATCHET, HEROES RISE AGAIN-

I kid, people make complaints about the darker plot but it isn’t REALLY “dark”, it doesn’t come close to feeling like it has edge shoved down your throat in the actual game in fact this is probably one of my favourites when it comes to Ratchet and Clank humour. Let’s begin.

Ratchet, Clank and a mechanic named Al (that I never mentioned in previous reviews) have been given command of the Starship Phoenix. The crew get warned by Sasha that Dreadzone; a show broadcasts gladiatorial combat in lawless regions of the galaxy, have been kidnapping heroes and forcing them to kill. Soon after Ratchet and his friends get boarded and kidnapped by Dreadzone thugs. Ratchet wakes up later finding that he’s been forced into some cool looking combat armour with no hole for his tail, and I’m not kidding about that he nearly flat out fucking says where it’s been stuffed. Soon after being forced into completing a “qualification course” he meets Gleeman Vox, the creator of Dreadzone. Long story short Ratchet is forced to compete in DreadZone, and is fitted with a Deadlock Collar which will explode if he becomes uncooperative or boring. If you’re wondering how Dreadzone is able to broadcast such “sport” on intergalactic television then you’re not running with the joke and somehow manage to not get why the station’s name is “Vox”.

Look I could get into more detail with some of the smaller scenarios but I don’t really NEED to. By the end the team compete long enough to find a means of shutting down the entire hero containment station as well as defeating Vox. The in between stuff is the great humor, most of the cutscenes don’t have much relevance to the plot but are fucking hilarious either way. Special mention goes to the news crew that comes up with creatively outlandish tales of Ratchet and Clank’s “true” nature, which includes Ratchet being a crime boss, selling cigars to children, getting drunk and crashing a oil tanker onto a bunch of baby alien equivalent of seals. Sure the game gets dark on occasions but overall don’t serve much of a purpose than to justify the change in direction. There’s this character named Ace Hardlight who is Dreadzone’s current major star who is losing popularity and appears on occasion to play up how much of a big deal your battle with him will be but once he gets defeated he brings up how he was corrupted by Vox before passing on for good from the plot and that’s it. Look I’d be complaining a lot more about the lacking of any major plot changes if the writing wasn’t so great. With that out of the way let’s get into what was really altered: the Gameplay.

-OBLITERATING EVERYTHING THAT’S NOT YOUR FRIEND-

Ratchet controls similar to how he used to with some changes. He automatically strafes when a weapon is equipped and now fires at whatever that camera is aimed at meaning aiming is more of a active thing now. Ratchet is now accompanied by two combat bots that fight with him and can be commanded to do things whenever the game forces you to make them to progress. They suck, they die a lot and getting upgrades for them only serve to delay the inevitable: they die and you need to command them to…rebuild themselves. There are only 10 guns in the game, a good deal fewer than usual but the weapon system has been altered a tad. Weapons can go up to Lv. 10 and can now be fitted with mods:

Omega Mods- Purchased through the Weapons store, these can add secondary effects if the weapon is compatible. Examples include Shock, Napalm, Acid and Morph mods.

Alpha Mods- Gained through leveling a weapon up which increases the amount of Alpha Mods it can hold and adds a new one. These I don’t generally mess with since the once the game puts on for you work with the weapon well enough, but in Challenge Mode the Weapons Vendor starts selling these along with XP Mods which help immensely in getting weapons and health to max.

The game is now set around completed missions in campaigns to unlock new campaigns on new planets. Most missions revolve around straight up shooting with platforming, vehicle missions and boss fights thrown in sometimes. Hence the game has quite some repetition and often times I hear people compare the game to what if the arena missions from previous games were turned into a whole game. I disagree with that comparison, I feel the game does change things up enough to make you forget the amount of combat there actually is and the fact that there are different visuals in the form of new planets help though a lot of the places have very little color due to fake edge. Plus this game isn’t as long as the others in the series so things don’t drag for long at all. From the start you can now select what difficulty you wish to play in which can be changed at any time and only affects what character skins you can buy with Difficulty Stars you get when completing missions.

Like Ratchet and Clank 3 the in-game economy is extremely lenient, especially since you get cash for completing missions and getting skill points in this game. You can blow through this game rather easily, the only major challenges being the final gauntlet followed by the final boss. For some reason though there’s no armor system in this game. Challenge Mode returns, and with it comes more powerful versions of your weapons that let you go to LV. 100 but its easy as hell to rack up levels and the power boosts when leveling up are smaller. Hey, at least when you reach Lv. 100 the weapon’s projectiles become rainbow powered.

-More multiplayer!?-

The online multiplayer returns with a couple of new modes. It met the same fate as the R&C3 multiplayer but when I tried to play some matches on the HD version on PSN NOBODY CAME UP. Apparently nobody cares about it as much as the one in R&C3 where I actually did get some matches. I suppose the online multiplayer is dead so let’s talk about LOCAL CO-OPS. 2 players killing everything in sight. You both share the same weapons and ammo meaning both of you cant hold the same weapon but it’s still fun to break the game with “teamwork” since when a player dies as long as one is alive the dead one will respawn. Too bad the co-ops is only local multiplayer though.

 

-What did I mention earlier about a HD version?-

I did mention a HD version. And it’s amazingly terrible. All of the cutscenes that aren’t prerendred have glitches galore which you can easily find on Youtube. Some are funny but most are not and its fucking unbelievable how messed up this port is. Thankfully the actual gameplay is free of glicthes…most of the time. In fact my most recent playthrough had a glitch where I got a skill point from a planet I wasn’t on yet. Special mention goes to the fucking slowdown when a lot of things are moving on the screen which happens more times than it should. Basically if you can find a PS2 copy that’s cheaper than the already cheap HD version then you should get that unless you want to see a poor excuse for a remaster.

-So does this game have quality?-

Might be nostalgia talking but I still find this game to deliver in the Ratchet and Clank fun I look for despite the repetition. The soundtrack isn’t memorable at all though and I can go outright and call some tracks just crap for trying to fit with the game’s fake edge. Same goes for the aesthetics although there are a couple of exceptions but I noticed a few reused assets from R&C3 on occasion. One thing that really gets on my nerves is the in-game commentary by the news crew that gets repeated REALLY DAMN FAST. Overall, the game is completely skippable but it’s not a long game. Its something I can at least still have some good fun with and not take a lot of my time doing so.

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-TheAceAlucard

 

-Ratchet and Clank 3- Review

March 28, 2016 no comments Posted in Playstation & Sony, Video Games

 

….what? I don’t have anything better to do.

As you know from my last review Ratchet and Clank 2 was great. So a sequel came out a year later in 2004, with development being heavily revolved around rigorous testing and fan input on what problems could be fixed. The game would be known in the US as Ratchet and Clank 3: Up Your Arsenal while once again Europe were not able to handle the disgustingness of such a subtitle and just left the game without it. Now let’s see how the 3rd entry in the series changes what the first two games established.

-Plot….what? I ran out of ideas-

Ratchet and Clank are playing intergalactic chess in their apartment (as all great stories generally start). They also watch some Secret Agent Clank, a show Clank managed to get for himself with Ratchet as the chauffer. Afterwards they turn on a newscast showing Solanna (R&C1 galaxy) being caught in a massive war against tyrannoid invasions commanded by one robotic Dr. Nefarious. This includes Ratchet’s home planet so he immediately drags Clank onto his ship and the two make their way back to Solanna. Upon arrival Ratchet is reluctantly put in the position of sergeant of the Galactic Rangers; who mostly consist of rather pathetic and humorous robots who need Ratchet to constantly bail them out of trouble. I’m taking this as the reason they didn’t show up to fight Drek in the first game or they were on sabbatical the entire time.

Ratchet and Clank are greeted with a transmission from the Solanna President after taking out the tyrannoids on Veldin, who (while giving credit to Clank thanks to being a fan of his show) tells them to go after the man who defeated Nefarious once before…Captain Qwark. Qwark incidentally managed to escape his “employment” at Megacorp and made his way to the Florana jungles. By the time the heroes catch up with him he is completely feral and has about as much coherent thought as his new monkey friend Skrunch. Ratchet takes him to the Starship Phoenix under command of Sasha, the president’s daughter. After having a orgasm over all the Starship’s features (you will too) Ratchet begins his fight against the tyrannoids. After Ratchet gets Qwark’s memory restored via playing one of his “historically accurate” videogames in front of him, Qwark creates the “Q-Force”, a team of “elite” soldiers working against Dr. Nefarious, and assigns Ratchet a new mission to infiltrate Nefarious’ base and acquire as much information on Nefarious’ plans as possible.

Wondering why someone like Qwark is given command? Its played for laughs mainly, the guy isn’t the asshole he was in the last two games with his new character playing off humor similar to the Behind the Hero videos about him. It’s a great change, one that later games would continue to play off in different but similar ways.

Ratchet and Clank eventually arrive at Planet Daxx and learn about something called a Biobliterator, but not what it does. They also find a music video by Courtney Gears (har har), which tells robots to destroy organic lifeforms. Courtney Gears kidnaps and hands over Clank to Nefarious after the heroes make a attempt into investigating Nefarious through her. Nefarious present Clank a ultimatum: Help him conquer organic lifeforms or be a disgrace to his robotic brethren. Unbeknownst to the player and Ratchet, Clank refused causing Nefarious to replace him with a evil twin named Klunk while holding Clank as prisoner. Ratchet and Klunk. Ratchet, with Klunk, then follows up on the Bioblierator on the Obani Moons. While helping them access the third of the moons, Skidd, another member of the Q-Force, is kidnapped by Courtney Gears. Ratchet enters the third moon to save him, but is too late as Skidd gets transformed into a robot. Ratchet defeats Courtney Gears and later infiltrates Nefarious’ Star Cruiser with Qwark.

When Ratchet arrives, however, he discovers that Dr. Nefarous lured them to the ship as a trap, and he activates the self-destruct system before teleporting out. Qwark says he may have found intel and, much to Ratchet’s dismay, Klunk asserts that they must leave him behind. The duo escape as Qwark is left to die in the exploding cruiser. After a humorous funeral scene, Ratchet is fighting off yet another Tyhrranoid invasion in the city of Metropolis. Nefarious uses the Biobliterator to turn the helpless citizens and Tyhrranoid invaders alike into robots. Before Ratchet can attack him, Dr. Nefarious escapes the city and Klunk attacks Ratchet. After defeating Klunk, Ratchet and Clank are reunited. They discover via looking into the star cruiser’s crash site and playing a blacklisted “historically accurate” Qwark videogame, that Captain Qwark is still alive and is hiding at his secret hideout after he survived the self-destruct via escape pod.

I haven’t been mentioning the backstory between Qwark and Nefarious shown in the Qwark videogame segments. The two used to be in the same biology class (with Qwark being 26 at the time) and years after Qwark stops Nefarious’ amoeboid attack he accidently knocks him into robotizicing machinery which turned him into the robotic doctor he is today.

Back in the present day Qwark refusing to fight because he doesn’t want to die and Ratchet and Clank begin their final assaults on Nefarious. They destroy the Biobliterator only to find it to be the first of two and the weakest one, with the final one being held at Nefarious main command centre. Ratchet and Clank arrive at the command center and confront Nefarious, but before they can defeat him he teleports inside the Biobliterator, which transforms into a giant, heavily armed robot. Having regained his bravery, Captain Qwark flies in to fight alongside them and they engage in aerial combat against Nefarious and the Biobliterator and defeat it. The Biobliterator self-destructs, and Nefarious and Lawrence (his butler) are left stranded on an asteroid after attempting to teleport away from the explosion. The ending fades to the Q-Force and their allies watching the premiere of the latest Secret Agent Clank holofilm.

The story, despite having some more meat, is about as good as R&C2’s. The humourous and quirky dialogue is back and better than ever, with Dr. Nefarious being so good at his job he returns as a villain and later a protagonist in 2 more games.

 

 

 

-How to use a Ratchet again because this one is different to the other ones-

Sort of. Ratchet can do everything he could before so we’re solely focusing on the gameplay changes made to 3. What your XP gets you in this game is a bit different. Ratchet starts with 10HP which can go to 100 (200 in Challenge Mode). His weapons can now be levelled up from V1 to V5, gaining mods and powerful additions each time, with V5 giving them the most destructive upgrades. Because of this, Ratchet’s weapons can get extremely powerful, so much so you can beat the game without buying more than a couple of guns. The guns in this game are probably some of the best in the series in terms of power and even if they seem weak, all of their V5 states cause utter destruction and the last two planets in the game give out large XP amounts. The Starship Phoenix allows you to test weapons before purchase so you can determine whether or not you think it’s worth buying but if you know what you’re doing in this game you can buy just about everything. There are 2 bonus crates you can come across also; the Jackpot crate which temporarily doubles XP and bolts and the Inferno crate which makes Ratchet temporarily immune to damage and make all of his melee attacks kill in one hit.

The in-game economy is the least strict in the series, rivalling only Crack in Time. You get a LOT of bolts in this game, particularly when doing optional things and there is no more bolt paywalls. There’s no Hoverbike races or Ship Battles; there’s just Arena Challenges, Sewer Crystal Hunts and Ranger Missions. Arena Challenges work like they should with some platforming challenges thrown in to have something else to do there as well. Sewer Hunts are…something else. On Planet Aquatos you can go into the large system of pipes filled with Amoeboids and get Crystals for 2,000 bolts each. There are 101 Crystals in there. However you can’t fully explore the place without the Gravity Boots and Treasure Mapper (just to see where the fucking Crystals are on the map of the huge place). Not to mention there’s extreme fucking slowdown in the place. I don’t know whether or not it’s the enemies that cause it or why its in the PS3 version but jesus christ the place is nigh unplayable to go through with the speed it runs at the deeper you go in. The Ranger Missions are a set of missions that generally involve defeating enemies or using vehicles that come up on certain planets. Some are mandatory, some are optional that get you new items, but they all give you cash payouts and that is good. Something to mention is that Arena and Ranger stuff all refill your ammo after starting a mission which is great for saving cash.

The Quick Select now has 2 rings for storing weapons and gadgets. Also you can now change between that last 2 weapons you’ve use by tapping triangle instead of just the last weapon you used. A new series staple is the Swingshot (or Hypershot) activating automatically when you jump towards a target so there isnt a reason to keep it in the Quick Select anymore. Also Gadgets are rather barely used in this game with one gadget only being used in ONE PLANET. Items in this game to give Ratchet some need tricks; like a spare health refill in case he runs out or two of the items from R&C2 being combined into the Bolt Grabber V2 which can get loads of free cash from breakable objects extremely fast because of what it powers up.

Clank sections are back, working as he used to now guiding a monkey with a banana shooting gun as well as the Gadgebots. He’s controlled 3 times so it’s not worth talking about. Same goes for the Qwark Vid-Comics where you get to play…functional (I guess) 2D platformer sections. There are 5 and they’re all mandatory. They’re decent enough and you get a good deal of cash for doing well. They can even be skipped in Challenge Mode. Overall the differences this game brings are enough to justify itself as a sequel. The only time you should ever fail is when the enemy manages to get the better of you and not due to lack of power. The last couple of areas final boss are good challenges though even when you’ve been breaking the game in two with all your V5 weapons and equipment. It’s a great example of R&C gameplay and has obvious input from people’s complaints from the first two games, if a little lacking in the pure platforming department (Qwark Vid-Comics aside) with some planets just being a battle fest.

-Um, what? Multiplayer? Fucking hell-

Yep this game has ONLINE PS2 MULTIPLAYER. Predictably due to the set-up required you wouldn’t be using this for much more than local until the Playstation Network allowed use of the online multiplayer in the HD port. Its decent enough, with some Deathmatch, Capture The Flag and Siege modes. It’s nothing worth explaining in detail, I don’t tend to play it too often but it isn’t a ghost town in terms of people that are using its online these days. At least I think so from the little matches I played. Just don’t expect too many original assets, there isnt even any new music for this mode from what I recall besides the menu music. I imagine something like this paved way for a lot of what we know as today’s console online multiplayer with a number of features you’d be surprised for a PS2 game to have, that and I never played too many PS2 games WITH online capabilities. Might look into that sometime.

-Sooooooo…-

Presentation wise the game is good but I much prefer the aesthetics of R&C1 and 2. This game doesn’t have as much colour then the others and its soundtrack isn’t the best in the series. It’s not bad by any means and still works well but it’s not terribly good either. Maybe it’s just the kind of tone they were focusing on but it is very hard for me to remember music from 3. A few planets make a return from R&C1 with completely different aesthetics and level design but, with the exception of Aridia, have the same tracks from R&C1 although in Aridia’s case the planet looks NOTHING like the original so there wasn’t a reason to even use the same name.

Overall the game is about as good as its predecessor in my book although I can see why the changes it has have people call it the better game. It’s just rather easy for me to blow through at times but the humour is great stuff and its probably the most accessible R&C game. Pick it up along with its predecessor for your PS2 or PS3 although the graphical oddities in 2‘s HD version make reappearances in 3‘s HD version.

531591

-TheAceAlucard

-Ratchet and Clank 2- Review

March 17, 2016 no comments Posted in Playstation & Sony, Video Games

 

Got some things to explain. Why the second game? Because the first game is aged shit. I COULD NOT play it again for the review and it only sets the basis for this game, while this game sets the basis for the ENTIRE SERIES. I’ve decided to skip ahead to 2, and I’ll explicitly explain to you exactly why soon.

-How the series went from decent to awesome, R&C1to R&C2 –

Ratchet and Clank was released in 2002 by Insomniac Games for the PS2. It was a action-platformer that had a large focus on using ludicrous weapons and gadgets to get through various sci-fi planets. However its design choices were detrimental in it being as aged as it is compared to the other games. Combat could get clunky, you could only get a max of 8 hit points, you needed to be a absolute hoarder of cash to get anywhere, difficulty could get obnoxious and weapons were EXTREMELY situational most of the time. There was a weapon named the Taunter that did nothing but make noise to, as the game puts it; “lead foes into traps”. Basically you either wasted your money on it or spent more money to get a mine weapon that complements it in only certain situations. Worst of all for a good chunk of the game the two main characters were the EXACT OPPOSITE of what you’d want out of partners. Ratchet acted like a typical teen who sounds like a surfer “dude” who’d use worse like “tubular” whilst Clank was just a textbook nerd who was prudish and stuffy as all hell. The two had no chemistry for most of the game and were not enjoyable heroes to be stuck with which is one of the worst things you can do. The game isn’t terrible or even all that bad, it has some good things about it that I do love but I can find those in ANY other Ratchet and Clank game.

Luckily the game managed to get enough praise to have a sequel start its development 5 months after the first game’s release. And HOLY FUCK did they fix EVERYTHING.

-NOW THE AMAZING PART-

Ratchet and Clank 2: Going Commando (Locked and Loaded in Europe, apparently we can’t handle nudity jokes) was released in 2003 and is one of the best examples of a sequel overtaking its predecessor in every way. Everything about the game’s development says they wanted to fix criticisms of the first game and add a few “big ideas”, things that would add to the game’s “Wow-factor”. And they did for the most part. Mention must be given to them specifically fixed the personality of Ratchet before I begin the plot synopsis. He’s grown up more or less, now able to take charge in stressful situations without being impetuous and cocky. As well he’s less of a dick and is more friendly to Clank.

So without further ado, LETS FUCKING DO THIS.

The story starts off nearly a year after the first game where Ratchet and Clank are having a interview on the TV show Behind the Hero. The two state that after all the praise and festivities they’ve started living a uneventful life again, with Ratchet explicitly saying “No one needs a hero right now”. A corporation head watching from a entirely different galaxy disagrees and teleports the duo to a space carrier. The man introduces himself as Mr. Fizwidget, founder of the Megacorp company an extremely powerful corporation that manufactures every product in the Bogon Galaxy. He requests Ratchet’s aid in retrieving a biological experiment that was stolen from the megacorperation by a mysterious thief. Ratchet almost immediately accepts with Clank being hesitant…that is until Fizwidget tells them the rewards of the job; a penthouse suite, a job as Megacorp accountant and a robotic masseuse. Clank agrees immediately after . Ratchet is then given combat training and a new body armour (complete with helmet) on the 2 week trip over to the new galaxy. After failing to stop the thief’s escape from his flying lab Ratchet begins his journey after him during which Clank gets kidnapped from his apartment and held as hostage by the thief. Ratchet rescues him and the two eventually manage to track down and recover the experiment as the thief makes his escape. After heading to the rendezvous point on a abandoned mining planet, Fizwidget accidently lands on Ratchets ship thinking it was “a little debris on the landing pad”. The old man waves it off stating that “Its insured!”. He retrieves the Experiment and offers the two a ride on his ship but accidently ejects them out after attempting to turn on the radio. The two fall into the inner abandoned mine, Clank assumes Fizwidget kicked them out on purpose but Ratchet decides to give him the benefit of doubt as a easily distracted old man. They make their way out of the mine but are held up by the thief. The thief unintentionally knocks off his own mask (by humorously slipping off the top of his ship), and it is revealed that “he” is actually a female Lombax named Angela Cross. Ratchet states he doesn’t have the experiment, which she states has put the galaxy in danger.After finding a way to repair their ship, Ratchet and Clank discover on a couple of Megacorp research and development facilities and that Angela’s claims are true, as the Experiment is revealed to be a dangerous predator that Megacorp intends to market as a pet.

They try to persuade Fizzwidget to destroy the experiment on a number of occasions but fail due to the man’s convenient incompetence. The experiment now dubbed the “Protopet” is now being cloned and shipped across the galaxy. The team decides to head to Megacorp Headquarters to halt the cloning of the experiment where Qwark happens. They discover that Captain Qwark, the disgraced superhero from Ratchet & Clank, had disguised himself as Fizzwidget and planned to release the protopet from the beginning in spite of its hostility, so he could save the galaxy from his own threat and restore his reputation.

To be fair to the game this isnt what you’d call a left field end as videos appear in the game explaining what happened to Qwark after Ratchet and Clank stopped him from assisting the main villain by taking him out. Qwark was arrested after selling fake gadgets to people under a false identity and was charged with paying a extremely high sum to the recipients of the defected products. He attempted to flee custody, got arrested and escaped by flushing himself down the prison toilet. He attempts to use a “Helix-o-morph”, a gadget Angela designed to repair the genetic flaw in the Protopets that causes their aggression, and zaps the original Protopet, but it malfunctions, mutating the protopet into a gigantic, vicious monster that swallows Qwark whole. After Ratchet defeats the giant Protopet, Angela and the real Fizzwidget arrive on the scene, with Angela explaining that Fizzwidget had been tied up in a closet the whole time. After spitting Qwark back out, the giant Protopet is changed back to normal once Angela retrieves the Helix-o-morph and fixes it by putting the batteries in the right way. With this the device is hooked up to Megacorps TV transponders allowing it to fix all of the Protopet clones, ending the game with Qwark being forcibly signed on as a test subject for Megacorp products including the…crotchitizer.

Well as you can probably tell this series goes about things with a generally humorous and quirky narrative (I sadly cant sit here listing examples so I cant really do it justice) which is much more enjoyable thanks to the better character in the main protags and well as, for the most part, good characters in general. And trust me I did cut a lot out of the synopsis including all the Thugs-4-Less scenarios which I love. Fun fact: despite Angela being a female of Ratchet’s species absolutely NOTHING happens between them and it’s great because she has a good deal of personality which is why they never used her again. It’s what it needs to be for a Ratchet and Clank plot, I’m not expecting anything deep and intricate from a series that loves having fun doing ridiculous things with its weaponry. Voice acting is good, with James Arnold Taylor taking on the role of Ratchet…for good, even up to this year’s game and film. It’s a bit odd hearing his first go at the role though he sort of fluctuates, sometimes making Ratchet sound different on occasion at the beginning.

 

-How to use a Ratchet (lololololololololol)-

Let’s start with what the original game introduced. Ratchet can run, crouch, jump, double jump and do a combo with his wrench on the ground. He can do a overhead swing with the wrench and toss it while crouching. Weapons and Gadgets are selected by holding triangle to bring up the Quick Select. Here you can choose which weapons or gadgets you wish to equip without having to go into the Weapons menu to equip them. The game doesn’t pause in the Quick Select menu, and you need to pick which ones that are in it in the pause menu. Firing the weapon is done with circle and double tapping triangle swaps to the last weapon you held. Ratchet can also glide with Clank (in the original he needs to upgrade him first) and perform a long jump forward and up with him. Bolts that drop from breakable objects or enemies can be used to purchase weapons or get past paywalls the game throws your way sometimes. Gadgets are used to manipulate specific things when needed, like a Swingshot for the swingshot targets. They sound situational and they REALLY ARE, especially the last gadget which you only use 2 and a half times since you get it near the end of the game. What’s worse is that there are two items that conceptually do the exact same thing: Infiltrator hacks stuff with a minigame and the Electrolizer activates stuff with a minigame, not to mention the access points for each look similar enough.  Clank sections return…in two areas where you perform a decent platform challenge whilst commanding robots to do shit for you. Nothing worth mentioning really, Clank sections sort of stay like this until Crack In Time so meh.

Now the new things and get into the problems afterwards. The game adds XP meters for both your weapons and health. Every time your heath XP is maxed your heath increases. Including Nanotech Increases you can find your health can go all the way up to 80 HP just from 4 HP. This is not only better than the original game its also important since enemies can start doing more than 1 HP of damage. Luckily you can now buy armour in this game, decreasing the damage you take. Sadly the armour system is introduced right after you repair Ratchet’s ship which is about nearly a third into the game which is rather late. The weapon’s XP allows it to permanently transform into a stronger version of that weapon when filled. The amount of things your quick select can hold has been increased. A very useful addition is strafing with L2, which allows you to aim MUCH EASIER than the last game. You can even lock on to enemies with weapon mods (which is rather stupid). In the first game you had to pray the weapon had some kind of target indicator which would angle the shots because you have to move Ratchet to aim. Additional means of acquiring money has been added, there’s now Arena Challenges, Hoverbike Racing, Crytal Searches, and Space Combat Missions as well as optional boss fights. The mods I mentioned earlier can be bought with Platinum Bolts which you might find looking around the planets, they don’t do too much so you don’t have to get them but they’re nice enough to have like a Acid or Shock Mod. There is even a weapon shop that lets you get back R&C1 weapons for no cost if you purchased them on a R&C1 save file, meaning you get free weapons if you have. This game also introduces the Charge Boots as a means of moving faster, which you get after finding the Hoverbike Race track on the Megacorp Games planet.

The New Game + that lets you replay the game with all your stuff and stats has been tweeked into Challenge Mode. Here you have a bolt multiplier that increases each time you kill a enemy and decreases when you take a hit, letting you get insane amounts of cash very fast. This lets you buy the million bolt arm or the RYNO II; a insanely powerful rocket launcher that breaks everything. Any weapons that have their XP maxed out can be repurchased in their MEGA state, which also comes with ANOTHER XP bar to fill making it even more powerful after its full.

Introduced in this game is the Insomniac Museum which unlocks after getting EVERYTHING in the game. Or you can do this quite deliberate and easy to pull off glitch put in by the developers to get there from a secret teleporter Silver City. The Museum showcases a bunch of cut content, gives you immense amounts of behind the scenes and game info as well as letting you mess around with all kind of cut stuff or developer tools. It’s one of my favourite parts of the game just for the pure fun of messing around and learning neat stuff from people who had a fun time their game.

 

-Issues may include…-

OK I’ve blabbered about good things long enough let’s get into the reviewer clickbait: THE PROBLEMS. Firstly the Space Missions are crap design-wise. The controls are simple enough however you’re in a spaceship with full 360 degree movement instead of only need to worry about turning, rising and descending. The ships you’re against go everywhere and are much more accurate than you are, in the time it’ll take for you to find them you’re already taking a bunch of potshots. You’ll be mashing R2 to straighten the ship constantly to get a good idea of where you reside in the area. Basically look up one of the missions on Youtube (I can’t be bothered, no good examples came up on my first search) and see for yourself how clunky things are. Luckily there are only 4 mandatory missions but 2 of them REQUIRE upgrades in order to accomplish the mission without failure, which means getting Raritanium from earlier space missions and buying better shields and weapons at Slim Cognito’s later in the first third of the game. They do give great payoffs and a few of them arent combat orientated.

One of my main issues with the game is the tad unbalanced in-game economy. It means that if your not hoarding things can get troublesome. Let me explain. There are a lot of weapons in this game that, while good for taking different approaches, only serve to waste a lot of your cash when it comes to boss fights where dealing damage is everything. The game has QUITE a number of weapons that are useless in terms of damage as well as throwing good weapons in the vendor right after a few crap ones. With the occasional money paywalls and armour that you’ll need to buy, don’t be surprised that you’re going to have to grind if you bought whatever came up in the shop, not knowing how ineffective it is. R&C1 had this problem too but in that game enemies didn’t take “damage” as much as they took “hits” so many non-situational weapons were still effective from beginning to end. Here the stats matter and weapons like the Lancer or Heavy Lancer lose their use before you get halfway into the game. GET the Mini-Rocket Launcher and Bouncer weapons before deciding on anything over 20,000 bolts.

Speaking of boss fights, special mention goes to the fucking one against the giant robot piloted by the Thugs-4-Less leader. Something HAS to be wrong with this fight design-wise, it takes way too fucking long to finish, your weapons do piss damage to his incredibly large HP so your only option is these turrets…that also do piss damage and get destroyed by the giant robot very easily. It’s a fucking mess.

-Presentation-

The game looks great for 2003 PS2 standards and the aesthetics of each area are generally overwhelmingly pleasing. Ratchet’s new armours make him more cool looking than the…”outfit” he had in the first game. Graphical quirks occur left right and centre in the HD version, particularly with cutscenes that happen in a ship, but usually aren’t enough to diminish the quality of them overall (we’re not at Ratchet Deadlocked HD yet). The humour is great and I cannot do it justice, with only a few jokes that lost touch over time. Music is fucking awesome, its bombastic, its funky, its atmospheric, it has so much variety with different instruments. Its everything it needs to be and more and I recommend a listen to it. The only problem is, the game has no credits music. Why? I don’t know, it just plays the Final Boss music during the credits instead for some reason and there’s no credits music in the soundtrack. Also why is there only ONE track for Hoverbike Races? The Ship Missions have multiple music tracks I’m sure they could squeeze out one more.

-So is the fucking amazing game a fucking amazing game?-

Yep. The in-game economy is one of the few worst in the series and certain sections I fucking tire of but overall it’s a fantastic game and a major improvement over what was, allowing the series to continue to the point nearly running out of ideas and then getting a reboot and a film next month. Recommended for any PS2 owners or anyone with a PS3 can get it as part of the HD collection, where you can get it with its meh predecessor and its equally good sequel.

4

On a humour note, look up japanese Ratchet and Clank box arts if you have time to waste. They’re…weird and sometimes inaccurate. For Ratchet and Clank 2 the cover shows a oddly drawn Ratchet in his original design, something that’s only present in the first cutscene in the game.

-TheAceAlucard