Monday, January 23, 2012

Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters - It Sure Does

Continuing down the line in the Ratchet & Clank series, we go from the PS2 to the PSP with the fifth game, Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters, released in 2007. This is the first game not to be developed by Insomniac, but rather High Impact Games, and is also the game that came packaged with my PSP when I first got it. I never completed it when I first played it, and going back to it again after all this time I remember why.

Our heroes Ratchet and Clank are relaxing on the planet Pokitaru when a little girl named Luna appears, wanting to take pictures of the duo doing "heroic thtuff" for a school project. However, Luna gets kidnapped and is taken to another planet, after which the two go after her. Meanwhile, Clank discovers Captain Qwark spying on him and Ratchet at the beach, trying to jump into their next adventure. When Clank asks why he isn't spending time with his family, Qwark breaks down and is encouraged to find his biological parents (apparently he was raised by monkeys).

Starting with the positives of this game, the voice acting is still rather good like with previous installments, and the music is catchy and fits the tone of each world. There aren't that many weapons and gadgets compared to Up Your Arsenal, but there is still plenty of variety for a handheld game and they all work well. You can also upgrade your weapons by defeating enough enemies, as well as by purchasing mods to enhance their capabilities from a separate vendor. A first for this game is the ability to customize your armor, by way of collecting pieces from various armor sets to gain special abilities as well as increase the damage resistance to Ratchet.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, I discovered a few issues that really began to bug me as I went forward. First off, it's a tad difficult to actually move Ratchet or Clank when playing as either of them. The analog stick is the primary form of control, but sometimes it doesn't feel like responding to the simple command of moving forward. The D-Pad is a secondary form of movement, but even then you can only move in so many different directions, so I ended up having to switch between these two countless times just so the character could move in the direction I wanted them to. On the other hand, the analog stick works perfectly fine when playing a hoverboard race or robot combat mini-game, which don't seem to to fit in to the overall scheme of things and felt almost pointless.

An even bigger problem I ran into was the camera, namely adjusting it to match where I wanted to look. Since the PSP doesn't have a second analog stick, camera controls are moved to the two shoulder buttons on the system (holding both allows you to jump higher/farther), and simply mastering it made it rather infuriating for me. This combined with the difficulty to move the player character frustrated me to the point where I had to hold myself back from exercising physical violence against the UMD. None of this is helped by the fact that regular enemies seem slightly overpowered, but that one's probably just me.

Due to the problems I have just described, I haven't actually beaten the game, but I don't plan to continue anytime soon. Aside from that, what I've managed to play of Size Matters wasn't too bad for a small package. If you can get past the problems with the basic controls, then you will have a better time than I did with this game, guaranteed.

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