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Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando
Platform:  Playstation 2
# of Players:  1
Developer:  Insomniac Games
Publisher:  Sony
Features:  Analog control, Vibration Function
Ratings:  Teen
Memory Req.:  8MB Memory Card, 475 KB
What can’t Insomniac do right? Last year’s million-selling Ratchet & Clank was a fantastic combination of action and platforming, and the sequel, Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando improves on it in every way. Hands down, this is definitely one of the best and most fun games on the year. Featuring larger environments, new gameplay elements and greatly improved visuals, the game is guaranteed to appeal to a wide range of gamers.

Action fans will love the 20 all-new weapons (which brings the total to 51), and stuff that blows up real good and as often as possible, while platform gaming junkies will be pleased at the huge levels and many challenges that await. Getting from Point A to Point B here is quite a lot of fun, and there’s a load of stuff to grab on the way, and it means a lot more this time out thanks to the RPG-like elements Insomniac has added. Yup, that’s right, Now Ratchet can (and needs to) increase his health bar as he goes through the game by destroying enemies. To keep things fresher still, enemies also grow along with Ratchet, which makes them quite a bunch of tough little (and big) S.O.B’s by the end of the game.

Going Commando is great stuff, and an incredible experience in every aspect. You can tell that this game was play tested to death before its release, and that every possible aspect that could be fine-tuned was, and then triple checked just to make sure. There’s a plot here, but I’ll only give away the beginning: Our heroes are being interviewed for a TV special about their lives since the last game when they’re teleported to The Bogan Galaxy. There they meet Abercrombie Fizzwidget (well, his hologram), CEO of a huge company, who offers them a chance to get back into the adventuring for profit business by locating a stolen “experiment”. Ratchet jumps at the opportunity (must have been the health plan and weapons, among other things), but Clank holds out for the security of a desk job before he commits to joining the cause. There’s a hell of a lot more, but a good story is best experienced as it’s played.

The game goes for laughs and gets them over and over. The script is well written and there’s a load of humor to balance out the heavy emphasis on action. As much as I enjoyed the first Ratchet & Clank, I found myself about 6 hours into the sequel thinking out loud “Man, you’d have to be dead if you don’t find something here to like!” The main point of the game, I’d have to say is FUN. There’s absolutely nothing here that isn’t an incredible amount of fun. The space battles are a total blast, the new spherical worlds and arena combat areas would make a sweet budget game on their own, and the wicked amount of upgrading and secret weapon mods that can be acquired make the game a hell of a lot deeper than more “serious” action/adventure titles out there. Clank even gets more screen time as well as a funny new attack.

Going Commando’s graphics are outstanding. The levels are larger, more colorful, and contain more interactive elements than in the first game. Characters all animate fluidly and look quite real (well for the game’s 3D cartoon worlds). When it comes to maxing out the PS2’s strengths, Polyphony, Insomniac, and Naughty Dog are Sony’s 1-2-3 knockout combo to any and all competitors. Any dev team that whines about the hardware or can’t produce games packed with this much life should go back to programming Commodore games or something. Of course, the music and sound effects are also top shelf. There’s absolutely no doubt that everyone involved here has obviously given 110% in every aspect of the game’s production. Hell, even the game’s label art is cool!

I suppose I should find something to complain about, or some sort of constructive criticism, so here goes: After this, Insomniac should concentrate on putting their talents into different a genre than mascot action/platform games. As great as Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando is, there are still a large enough segment of gamers out there who won’t touch this type of game with a 100-meter pole. Too bad and more for me, as I always say. This game is sure to be another top seller for Sony, but I really want to see Insomniac stretch out and try something really special. I happen to have an idea that’s been floating around in my pointy little head for a few years. Guys, just give me a ring, one of these days and we’ll chat…


Greg Wilcox

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