Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando
Game Info
Platform(s)
Playstation 2
Publisher
SCEA
Developer
Insomniac Games
Genre
Action/Platformer
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Mild Violence
 
Grade
The Good

• Amazing graphics
• Huge selection of gadgets and weapons
• Everything is upgradeable and customizable
• Long and varied adventure

The Bad

• Low difficulty

 
Grade
A+

When Insomniac debuted on the PS2 with Ratchet and Clank, it gave gamers a whole new look at the action-platformer genre. It accumulated laurels from professional critics and gamers alike. A sequel was a no-brainer decision. Insomniac went back to their lairs of game development, and they have emerged with a gem of undoubted caliber.

GRAPHICS Ė The original Ratchet & Clank was an absolute delight to look at. There is no doubt about that. Everything in the game felt alive and flourishing. It was decidedly different from other games because of the amount of animation in the background, along with great character design, animations and visual effects. So, the question is, how do you top that? And the answer lies with the guys over at Insomniac. Every single planet (read level) in Going Commando is full of an even larger amount of background animation which brings this gameís world to life in a manner which few other games have been able to achieve. The levels feature an amazing amount of draw-distance and you can literally keep staring into the horizon which is chock full of detail. The characters themselves carry a large amount of detail, which comes in handy in the cutscenes. The facial expressions and lip-sync are spot on. The weapons too share the same level of attention to detail that is visible in every nook and corner of this game. The extremely varied weapons spout forth various types of ammo ranging from lava to bouncing bombs. Every single type of explosion in the game is great looking thanks to Insomniacís Corn engine. Whenever you use your weapons to blow **** up in the game, itís Corn working behind the scenes to give you a great view of spare parts flying away. The game features even more on-screen enemies, without the slightest hint of slowdown. The best way to gauge the graphical prowess of Insomniacís engine is to spend a little time in the one of the gameís arenas. Enemies lunge at you from every direction, you fire at them indiscriminately with your best weapons, watch them explode, the floor itself takes potshots at you with spinning blades and blue flame. Then in an instant you are lifted off the ground and forced into a cylindrical cage match, where you are forced to fight more enemies and the lava filled floor fires off flaming boulders at you. All this moves at a sweet 60 FPS. It never slips, not even for a single second. That is the beauty of this game. But thatís not the whole story about the graphics, the Space shooter sections and the races are very well done too. And not mentioning the spherical levels would be wrong. These innovative levels are wonderfully realized. Jump high enough and you will even be able to see beyond the short horizon.

PRESENTATION Ė GC is a true testament of good presentation. Everything from character design to the menus oozes production quality. The title screen shows Ratchet playing Sony games, showing short clips of Jak 1 and 2 and even R&C and GC. This is one of the best title screens ever, it lets you see exactly whatís going on with Ratchet and Clank after the first game. The menus are well designed and itís almost fun to work with them. You might actually want to go through the Help/Info menus, just for the hell of it. The OSD is also extremely well built. You can multitask with blowing **** up and watching your ammo, health and weapon exp because the OSD is laid out so well. The cutscenes and FMVs work very well in the game, as they did in the first game. They build a cartoony yet believable background world for you to believe in, carrying on with the originalís legacy.

SOUND/MUSIC Ė The music in the game is quite similar to that found in the first. Itís a sort of sedated techno most of the time, but it picks up during the more action oriented levels and the boss battles. The music works well in the sense that itís not overly intrusive in the action. One of the most memorable themes in the game is the Arena theme, a fast paced percussion/bass based piece that really motivates the gamer. The voice acting featured in the game is a definite above average. Ratchet sounds more mature and less annoying this time around, owing a lot to the fact that a different voice actor is voicing him now. Clank maintains his intellectual stoic act, sprinkled with a little bit of enthusiasm and emotion. The rest of the old cast that has made it through to GC sounds, mostly the more interesting of the crew, retain their quirks. The new cast is also voiced well enough to stay at par. The rest of the game outside the sphere of cutscenes, which is mostly blowing **** up, stays true to itís roots with convincing explosions and weapon effects. Insomniacís killer app also features some very funny comments voiced by your enemies as they die and after they occasionally kill you. The roars, groans and booms are all very authentic, lifting the overall experience of battle.

STORY Ė Platformers of the past rarely featured detailed storylines. But the recent influx of platformers is almost always coupled with decent stories. The original R&C followed a simple story, with a few twists. GC does the same. The game sees new heroes Ratchet and Clank bored by their slowed down lifestyle, because ďno one needs a hero right nowĒ. Not for long. They are immediately teleported away by a verbally clumsy Fizzwidget, CEO of the galaxyís biggest corporation, aptly named Megacorp. He needs our heroic duo to retrieve a stolen experiment for him. Our heroes donít ask any questions and immediately set out to immerse themselves in another adventure. Along the way they find out that things are not as they seem, are they ever? They will meet interesting characters along the way, both old and new, to unveiling the truth and maybe saving the world again from chaos.

GAMEPLAY Ė Ah, finally we have reached the sweetest, most satisfying part of a game. GCís gameplay is pure satisfaction. Itís the absolute zenith of perfection in the action platform genre. The core of GC lies in blowing **** up. But thatís what it is, the core. The overlying layers of varied gameplay are what make this game a wholesome experience. The game has evolved and grown considerably since itís last outing. The gameplay can be elaborated upon in the following categories:

Basic Ratchet:
The core of GC is using weapons to destroy enemies. That is also the core of many other games, so what does GC offer that makes it so different? Of course, like itís predecessor GC offers a large spectrum of unique weapons ranging from a Lava gun and Sniper rifle to a Mini nuke and a futuristic Shotguns, and those are the tamer of the crew which can be bought at Megacorp. Now, when you buy these weapons and they become your property, thatís when things really start going. Each weapon has an experience bar which fills up as you use that weapon to kill enemies. Completely fill up that bar and your weapon will automatically upgrade to a new weapon, upgraded in both visuals and power. This makes you want to use every single weapon in the game to see what that weapon upgrades into. Not only this, you can also get mods for your weapon off the street, for platinum bolts, such as lock-on and shock. Thus adding another layer of customizability. Every weapon has itís pros and cons, and regardless of your style you will have to use each and every weapon here if you want to make it through the game. Weapons from the past also make a gimmick comeback, along with a revved up RYNO II. Your weapons arenít the only thing that can be upgraded. Your health can be upgraded too. As you kill more and more enemies, you will gain experience which will add to your nanotech exp bar. After the bar fills up one point of Nanotech will be added to your max health. You start off with very few nanotech points, but you can end with a whopping 80 points of nanotech. And you need that because the enemies found later on in the game can do major amounts of damage. Even your armor can be upgraded, granted you have enough bolts to buy better armor. The majority of the basic levels revolve around finding objects and getting to locations to push the story forward. The game also features vast barren levels where you can collect crystals and mine for Raritanium. These levels feature some of the most vicious enemies and are frustrating and yet fun. The spherical level encountered early in the game is also fun to play in.

Gadgets:
Like itís predecessor, GC features many fun to use gadgets. These gadgets distract you long enough from the pure action sequences to remove any sense of monotony that you might be getting. Most of these gadgets couple well with the platforming sections, designed specifically for these gadgets. The Electrolyzer and Infiltrator force you to use your mind and reflexes to beat the puzzles. Many of last yearís gadgets return with new additions. The Hang Glider and Levitator are minigames in their own rights.

Basic Clank:
The Clank sections of the game, to my disappointment, have been greatly reduced, both in difficulty and length. Although these parts feature a greater type of Bots, they are too straightforward and easy now. But, although one type of Clank gameplay has been toned down, another type has flourished. There are two Giant Clank sections now, both on spherical levels. These sections are great to play through. Clank retains his weapons and moves but the length and depth of these sections has increased. Both sections are in fact lengthy boss fights.

Maxigames:
Insomniac had spoken a lot about ďMaxigamesĒ prior to GCís release, and they were right to do so. These maxigames are fun getaways from the main game, and they also help to rake up moolah to buy the more exorbitantly priced gadgets and weapons. There are three full fledged maxigames in GC. Firstly there is the Hoverbike racing. This is a world apart from the originalís hoverboard racing. These races are not pretending to be full fledged races, they are races. The hoverbikes can use and collect turbos, they can also use a variety of standard weapons. The races feel very swift and the explosions and weapon effects are well done too. The tracks are functional, full of traps and shortcuts. There are different levels and type of races, which of course give you different amounts of bolts.

The second maxigame is the Space shooter. This maxigame is based on well known games like Starfox and Starlancer. You control your ship and shoot down enemy ships and structures. The diverse levels are well designed and allow for a fair amount of dogfights. Even your ship can get new weapons and upgrades. Customizability is the word here. You can buy weapons and upgrades from a shop, given you have the required amount of Raritanium, which you will have to mine. The missions here range from a simple enemy wipeout to racing another ship.

The last and arguably most fun maxigame is Arena battle. Here, you are pitted against a horde of enemies in an arena for a gladiator-esque battle. These long and fun battles provide both gaming experience and bolts. The battles range from short 10 round battles against weak enemies to the 60 round Impossible Challenge. The arenas themselves provide challenges in the form of spinning blades, flames erupting from the ground and even a gravity defying cage match where the floor fills up with lava and you are forced to fight on the inner surface of a vertical cylinder, while the lava spits flaming boulders at you. The occasional mission also pits you against a huge boss and sometimes it forces a handicap upon you.

Controls:
GC
controls like a utopian dream. Thatís the plain truth. Every portion of the diverse game provides great control over your character/ship. Ratchet is extremely responsive to your slightest command. The act of changing weapons is very smooth. Ratchet can now strafe and this addition melds in easily with existing controls to allow for a much greater control over Ratchet in the more chaotic battles. The evasive flips have become even more useful and easy to perform now. The rest of the sections, including the racing and space shooting also control quite well.

DIFFICULTY Ė GC might fool you into believing that it is a difficult game if you let it do so. But, face the truth. It isnít. Despite a larger number of enemies, a much longer health bar and chaotic and strategic battles, GC is quite easy. Itís almost as easy as itís predecessor and itís rival Jak II. A few battles and a few maxigame missions might seem troublesome, but theyíre not if youíre loaded up with all the right weapons. The boss battles are embarrassingly easy. The real challenge kicks in during the challenge mode.

REPLAY VALUE Ė This game gives the true definition of good replay value. If you let the game grab you, it will. It will ensnare you in itís vice like grip. There are almost too many things to do and unlock. The first playthrough itself offers many unlocks. The Gold bolts return as well hidden Platinum bolts. The skill points also make a return. The maxigame missions will definitely take you a while to go through. And of course, the weapons and armors will require you to spend time collecting bolts and then upgrading them. The bolt collection can be done more easily on second play. The game features enough unlockables and weapon upgrades to keep you occupied for a very long time.

OVERALL Ė Ratchet and Clank: Going Commando is the epitome of perfection. Every single aspect of this game has been polished to an unbelievable extent. Everything has been resized to a colossal proportions, from the graphics to the weapons to the maxigames. This is one of the best action platformers of all time. It dwarfs itís competition along with itís predecessor. If you own a PS2, you owe it to yourself to at least rent this game.

- - Rise of the Phoenix

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