….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.
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.