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Ratchet and Clank: Up Your Arsenal

Usually when a game series manages to pump out sequels every year you would suspect that they would be sub-par, but the folks at Insomniac Games have managed to make another sequel to my favorite videogame series of all-time, Ratchet and Clank.  The unlikely intergalactic duo are back in there most ambitious adventure yet in Ratchet and Clank: Up Your Arsenal.


I have always been a long time fan of the Ratchet and Clank series because it blends great platforming, action and a plethora of other mechanics so seamlessly together, and it manages to crack me up while doing it. 



After the events of Going Commando, The duo have become celebrities ( more than the other).  Clank managed to land a role in the Television action show, "Secret Agent Clank" where Clank plays a tin can equivalent to James Bond.  Ratchet also has a role, but it's certainly not as influential.  He plays the role of Jeeves, Clank's valet.  The two are living the life when they see a news broadcast of an alien race called the Tyhrranoids attacking Ratchet's home planet, Veldin. 


Ratchet of course isn't too happy about this and he gets over there to save his home.  Upon arriving he is greeted by the Galactic Rangers, a cavalry of robots that aren't what you call...well..brave.  After you clear the planet of the 'Noids you get a transmission from the President and learn that the alien attack was planned by the wicked robot, Dr. Nefarious.


After the president fills you in you are taken to the Starship Phoenix, where you then meet the President's daughter and captain of the ship, Sasha.  She tells you that we must defeat Dr. Nefarious before he unleashes his devastating weapon that will turn every squishy (what he refers to humans) into robots, because he just hates us humans.  To do this you must seek help from the only man ever to defeat Nefarious, Captain Qwark. 


After finding Qwark you soon discover that he has gone completely loony, so you do what everyone would do to bring him with you...smack him with your wrench.  He still hasn't got it back so you must bring him back to the Starship Phoenix to try and get Qwark's memory back so you can defeat the demeaning Dr. Nefarious.


Out of the three games, Up Your Arsenal has the best storyline.  It's still not as captivating, and epic as say the Jak and Daxter series, but it manages to grab you in and get you really into the characters and you'll actually care for them as you progress throughout the game.  There are a few twists and turns in the game that you should look for, also.


Gameplay and Control:

Previous Ratchet and Clank games have always been known for the great amounts of game types all mixed into one.  While there aren't as many types in Up Your Arsenal as Going Commando there sure are enough to keep you occupied.  You still have the rock-solid platforming, explosive action, and those quirky puzzles from the previous installments in here, plus you have a few more game types that are sure to please.  Clearly the best of the new features is the new Qwark Vid-Comics (A comic book videogame).  As mentioned earlier, Qwark has lost his mind, and through the course of the game you will find Vid-Comics that you can play threw your VG-9000.  These are brought to you by 2-D side-scrolling platforming levels, and they are nothing short of amazing.  This is clearly the best part of the third installment.  By completing these comics you'll bring back Qwark's memory so he can help you defeat Nefarious. 


Another worthy feature is the Battleground missions, which involves you and a group of Galactic Rangers free-falling out of a ship into a battle-zone filled with Tyhrranoids.  There are many different objectives throughout the many battles including clearing a base, gaining a base, taking out drop ships, or operating turrets to gain ground.  They work very well and let you take control of two vehicles, the Land Slider and a Hovercraft.  The Clank missions also make their glorious return, but the number of Clank missions are a bit limited for my taste.


The controls are solid as always, they are still responsive and tight, as we have seen in the previous installments.  No real big features have been made to the controls and that isn't a bad thing in the least bit.


Weapons and Gadgets:

If you ask a fan of Ratchet and Clank what he likes about the series they might say the humor, the characters, or maybe even the enemies, but odds are they're going to say the Weapons and Gadgets.  It's the games bread and butter no matter how you look at it.  This is the only part of the game that I was let down by.  There are some great weapons in this game like the Plasma Whip, and the Infector,  but overall this is the least inventive arsenal yet.  Some weapons just seem too similar to previous weapons; same thing goes for the gadgets.  There is even a gadget that is a combination of two previous gadgets in one.


This installment has a total of 20 weapons and 9 gadgets, while Going Commando had 22 weapons and a staggering 15 gadgets.  I understand that after two games worth of weapons and gadgets you can begin to draw blanks when it comes to creative juices, but come on Insomniac would it hurt to have a little more imagination in the weapons?  That said the weapons that are here are pretty impressive and have many good things about them.  All weapons have up to five levels of upgrades, and that's only on your first way through the game.  Ratchet does have an impressive arsenal this time around, but I just wish there was a little more innovation.


Going Commando dipped in pretty:

The R&C series has always been one of the best looking series on the PS2, and UYA definitely doesn't stray from that path.  This game is full of eye-candy.  The environments are vast, expansive and full of color.  The explosions and particle effects are at their best, and they can and most definitely will blow you away, both figuratively and literally.  The characters animate very well in the cut-scenes much ado to the vibrant colors you will encounter.  The game runs as smooth as a Slip N' Slide coated with Crisco, with only drops in frame rate when you have the real big explosions going off in every direction.  This game looks better than 90% of the games on all the systems; this could easily be an Xbox or Gamecube game.


Oh yeah it looks good, but how does it sound?:

Ever heard a catchy song or beat than began to hum, whistle, or even sing it?  You'd be hard pressed to find a song in Up Your Arsenal that won't make you crazy when it's playing in your head hours after you're done playing.  All the weapons pack a serious punch.  You'll really think that that weapon could really blow up a small island or something, much in part of the great sound effect work. 


All the weapons have distinctive sounds, and all sound very refined.  The Plasma Whip has a very satisfying...well whip and the Infector splishes and splashes as it hurdles towards a bewildered foes.  The Voice Acting is top-notch with all the original actors back to renew they're parts.  Ratchet still has the sarcastic "Why Me" attitude, and Clank still has that great giggle that seems to make the she-bots go crazy.  Captain Qwark sounds better than ever with the more dialogue than both of his previous appearances, his voice is still wacky, defiant, and manages to get his point across, even though it's hard to take a guy with an antenna on his head seriously. 


No laugh track needed for this one:

Ever laugh so hard during a cut-scene that after it's over and you're actually playing the game, it's hard to focus because you're still laughing out loud?  I guarantee you that you will do this while playing Up Your Arsenal.  When you first encounter the humor in UYA, you will immediately notice that is way more adult-oriented than the previous installments.  My favorite quote is from Captain Qwark when he is talking to his pet monkey Scrunch about their past events in the jungle he says, "It was mating season how was I suppose to know she was your sister?"  It's lines like those that will leave you gasping for air from the laughter.   The comedy isn't as mature as Conker's Bad Fur Day, but it's not as child-friendly as say a Sly Cooper. 


Skill Points, Titanium Bolts, and Trophies, OH MY:

Once you beat UYA for the first time, you aren't just encouraged to play again, it's expected.  In fact if you didn't go back at least a good two or three more times threw you'd be missing out on a good 65% of the game.  Skill Points are back and are as random as ever, Titanium Bolts replace the previous Platinum Bolts, and are double the amount of Going Commando;s, there are 20 weapons worth of five upgrades to get, and once you finish one time through, there are mega weapons to buy that feature four more levels of upgrades!  Last but not least are the brand new trophies.  Trophies can either be found or earned.  Throughout various levels are gold trophies of the main characters of the game.  Some trophies can even be earned by fulfilling certain achievements.  When it's all said and done the Single-Player is a bit shorter than Going Commando, but the amazing amount of extra material to find, collect, and unlock is staggering, and is sure to keep you busy for more time than most RPG's.



When it's all said and done, Up Your Arsenal is the best Ratchet and Clank game so far.  It features better graphics, better audio, a gripping storyline, and the best humor yet.  There are many things that Up Your Arsenal does better than Going Commando, but the lack of variety makes it the lesser of the two in terms of weapon and gadget value, and imagination.  I just wish that the weapons were just a tad more on the creative side, but don't let that turn you off to this game.  If you have the previous two games you really need to purchase this, and platforming fans that need a good time that will keep them busy for a while should look no further than Up Your Arsenal.  If you're a big fan you already own this game, if not go do so now. 




-Blake Becker (GoinCommando)

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