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.
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.