First Impressions: What's a Ratchet without a Clank? Trouble.
Sony's two unofficial mascots through the PlayStation 2 generation have seen year after year new sequels that have innovated platform gaming to new heights as we know it. Jak and Daxter of course arrived from the original designers of the Crash Bandicoot series, Naughty Dog. Jak having gotten an early start in 2001, it wasn't until a year later when Sony's other ambiguous duo appeared in the fall of 2002 in the self-titled breakout hit, Ratchet and Clank. That year while Jak and Daxter were duplicating the results of darker sandbox mayhem from Rockstar's hugely popular Grand Theft Auto games, Ratchet and Clank was the more kid-friendly sort of platform game. But then, the Ratchet and Clank franchise spurred its own course for reformatting. Versatile as the characters in this series have been known for, Ratchet and Clank: Going Commando inherited an entirely more destructive pace with many more weapons that would evolve through a RPG-like upgrade functionality. Ratchet and Clank: Up Your Arsenal followed another year implementing online into the foray of platform gaming for the first time. It's the fourth year now for the furry one and the mechanical one. Soon enough, Ratchet: Deadlocked will present gamers with yet another Ratchet and Clank game like you haven't seen yet.
Ratchet and Clank have dealt with their share of excitement, and then boredom, and more boredom. By now though, they're pretty much the prime intergalactic heroes of the galaxy, and their names are out there. Their names are so well-known that they're about to be the stars of a new TV tournament series whether they want to or not. In this case, they don't. It's when the dynamic duo learns of the capture of a group of heroes that they set out to rescue them. In the meantime, Captain Starshield dies at the Dreadzone event. Dreadzone is a combative death sport aired live in the Shadow Sector empire. As you can tell, this is yet another one of those evil territories spit out somewhere in the far reaches of the galaxy. In this disorderly quadrant of space, the very barbaric TV network known as Dreadzone is run none other by a bloodthirsty mogul sort named Gleeman Vox. Now that his show is short of one hero, he needs fresh meat. Ratchet is his man, and both he and Clank get kidnaped by his robot henchmen. Forced to participate in this Running Man-inspired proceeding, Ratchet and Clank are tailored with an electrifying surprise: a shock collar. If the ratings aren't going well, their bodies won't feel so well. Get the point? But lucky for Clank, he won't have to do any of the dirty work as he'll act as Ratchet's mission engineer. Communicating through a radio feed to support Ratchet in this newest endeavor, the fuzzy guy's going to have to act alone dishing out death and destruction until a chance of escape opens up.
Since the beginning, Insomniac Games has always tweaked its future Ratchet and Clank installments in one form or another. The second game received a bounty of more weapons and its very own RPG system. The third game had online installed. Now the fourth game is emblemizing a bit of a different type of departure. Detaching Clank from Ratchet's back isn't what I mean either. It's the notion that the series is ever so slightly blending itself into the basis of a squad-based shooter. For true platform fans this might be a disappoint, as apparently Ratchet: Deadlocked won't focus on jumping segments as much as it might have before. Then again, the franchise never really paved the way for those as much as it has for unloading round after round of ammunition. Now the offline game will close in on a much more cooperative mentality, resembling its addition of online last year and even more so with the multiplayer build this year too. What this system will entail exactly is teamwork siding with two very special robot companions.
Their names (if they even have them) aren't important. What's relevant is what these things can do for Ratchet. Ratchet's buddy bots will take orders on missions that will lend purpose to Ratchet's progression. They'll fight alongside Ratchet, or can be used to tighten screws into their sockets whilst Ratchet defends enemy threats and vice versa, or can shell out EMT charges that are grenades capable of disabling energy fields Ratchet cannot destroy on his own. Bots are also useful for hacking into security systems Ratchet has no control over. He isn't human, but he isn't a machine either after all. Bots, just like Ratchet's new weapon modifying system will be this time, are also interchangeable (unfortunately, the option only covers different paint schemes and replacement heads). This time weapons won't just jump to the next tier by pushing them far for long periods of time. Ratchet: Deadlocked will contain a robust supply of elemental mods in order to tweak Ratchet's guns and his new metallic partners. Two distinct families of modifiers will exist here though to add something to look forward to and to spice up the game with a larger goal. Called the Alpha and the Omega (nice names), Ratchet's mod modes can either be shopped for or rewarded to him. Alpha types are those mods that act similarly to the weapons from past Ratchet and Clank outings. The more Ratchet puts a weapon to use, the more its mod level will rise to power. When it does, Ratchet will be able to assign and rearrange the points he's gained concerning the firing speed, ammo capacity, and estimable power the gun drives into its enemies. On the other hand, Ratchet can also pick up Omega mods using bolts from vendors now in addition to weapons and ammo. Some of these would include acid, napalm, electricity, and ice-based augmentations, which add a proprietal attribute to each weapon's performance. As with the other mods, these can be lifted and exchanged between gadgets once they're a part of Ratchet's goodie bag.
With his guns and his bots at his back, Ratchet will face a slew of mission types as always. Platform-based objectives will still present themselves, such as blasting away at foes whilst grinding on rails. More often though, Ratchet will have to conquer the planet paths he'll access along the way by enduring dangerous and exciting instances like eliminating enemy hordes, demolishing specific structures, vying against competitors in hoverbike tournaments, and acquiring command of control points. Ratchet will also get the chance to spot himself online a whole bunch (multiple players will interact as variants of Ratchet), as once again Insomniac's taking the series to a second home in online gameplay. For eight people all together, a mixture of familiar and then not so familiar game types will merge together in choices like Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, King of the Hill, Conquest, and Juggernaut. What this means for players isn't so predictable, as a unique selection of game settings grazes these modes. For example, one team of two people may have allowance of sentencing their fate against a team of two others and a third team of four all at the same time. Three and three can head butts with two, and even a single person can find themselves confronting more than he or she can handle. The diversity between these different modes varies of course through on foot and also vehicular-based gun-toting action like last year. There'll be nodes to dominate all over the map and defensive measures to upgrade within Conquest. There'll be bases to clobber and protect in King of the Hill. There'll even be the creative take of tag in Juggernaut, where one individual is a monstrous overlord who's stronger than everyone combined, can regenerate health, and has the power to vanish into thin air. Teamwork will help in this thing's defeat, but will pass on the wealth of these abilities onto whomever punched in the final blow. As these cooperative modes aren't your average takes on these now standard multiplayer modes, Ratchet: Deadlocked is looking ready to give players a good time online all over again.
This series used to be so much more chipper in its space-based futuristic style. Ratchet: Deadlocked now seats players in front of a gloomy sight full of dark cloudy skies, muddy swamp grounds, and into an archaic battlefield where the structure isn't entirely stable any longer. Ratchet's latest outing may not be as colorful as it once was, but the game's definitely transitioning into a bit of a sharper palette over last year's title. In one way or another, players always knew what Ratchet's face looked like since the beginning. His orange-furred catlike body was revealed more openly before, or in the last two games with a suit of armor that only covered everything but his tail and his face. Now Ratchet is nothing more than a Master Chief-esque combat suit. His tail doesn't peek from his bottom anymore, and his helmet is imprinted with a bright yellow visor across its grim V-shaped body. Ratchet kicks cool's ass with his hunky new self. But, has his kid-friendly identity run away for good?