(Available on PlayStation 2 and on PlayStation via the Ratchet and Clank HD Trilogy. Ratchet and Clank 2 is also known as “Going Commando” in the U.S.)
Locked and Loaded with content
When a game gets a sequel, you expect it to improve upon its predecessor in nearly every single way. Ratchet and Clank 2: Locked and Loaded (aka “Going Commando in the US) does exactly that. There’s more weapons to use, planets to explore and the buddy cop dynamic between Ratchet and Clank evolves.
The first Ratchet and Clank game (of which I also did a review of) is a game that is still fun to play today, even with the dated visuals and a control scheme that now feels clunky after playing the more recent games in the series. As mentioned before, Ratchet and Clank 2 improves upon its predecessor in pretty much every way but there are one or two things that pull it away from being a perfect sequel.
The mixture of platforming and run and gun gameplay from the first game returns with some big and much welcome improvements. Ratchet is a lot easier to control in the second instalment. His animations look more fluid and smooth than the previous game and Ratchet being easier to control, helps with the platforming sections.
It isn’t just Ratchet who feels better to use, so does Clank. In the first game, Clank’s gameplay sections was primarily puzzle based and provided a break from the action side of things. Clank was a little bit clunky to use in the first game and whilst he still can be, it is much better now. The puzzle gameplay comes back and has been evolved as puzzles require more thinking to complete them as there are more elements involved.
That isn’t it for Clank, as Giant Clank makes a return. Giant Clank has new moves and easier to use. Giant Clank is used to fight bosses on moons that orbit the planet that you are currently visiting. The boss fights are epic, think Godzilla vs King Kong but there is a problem, the camera. When locking on to an enemy the camera can suddenly jolt back when they move around. Sometimes you’ll be fighting with your camera for control and it can be somewhat annoying.
Space battles return in a big way in Ratchet and Clank 2. You will be occasionally put into huge space battles which task you with taking down a number of enemies or to defeat a massive space fleet. The first game dabbled with space battles but the sequel improves and expands upon them. The controls feel tighter, flying feels smoothing and dogfighting with the enemy space ships is incredible fun, it makes you feel as if you are piloting an X-Wing. You can even customise your ship with new weapons and parts that will improve the speed and handling.
The biggest improvement to the gameplay is the addition of strafing. The strafing mechanic makes fighting enemies easier and more fun as you know have more control over Ratchet in firefights. Strafing allows you to target enemies better and evade their gunfire and attacks a lot easier. The addition of strafing makes Ratchet and Clank 2 feel like the more recent entries when it comes to gameplay which is cool. Replaying the old Ratchet and Clank games has made me realise how much I use the strafe mechanic when playing these games.
Whilst they do of course look dated in today’s standards, the graphics are definitely better than its predecessor. For a game that released in 2003, Ratchet and Clank 2 doesn’t look half bad. Textures aren’t as muddy as the previous game and have more detail to them. Each world in the game looks unique in style and the improved graphics really help with the atmosphere. Every planet is pleasing to look at even if their residents aren’t exactly pleased to see you.
Every weapon looks different and wonderfully elaborate which is a big plus in a game where one of its biggest elements are the crazy armaments. Two of my favourite weapons, the Lava Gun and the Sheepinator are wonderfully detailed. You can see love and the passion that the developers have when creating these amazing weapons.
Ratchet and his robot pal Clank look better in their second outing. The character models are more intricate this time around, Clank looks more metallic and his bolts look as if they are part of him instead of looking like they are painted on. Ratchet’s fur is more visible this time around thanks to the improved graphics.
It isn’t just Ratchet and Clank that look good, so do the enemies. The skin and the clothing on the enemies are just as comprehensive as the main characters. This is nice to see as it shows that the enemies of which you plow through many of, are just as passionately detailed as the game’s stars.
Like the first game, each planet you go to has their own unique music which helps to give each world you visit its own identity. From the upbeat futuristic sounds of Megapolis to the more serious and criminal underworld tones of Canal City on Planet Notak, each world sounds unique and helps keep travelling between them feeling fresh.
There is a weird omission that is somewhat sound related. In the PAL (UK and European) versions of the game, there are no subtitles, even though subtitles are listed in the menu. Subtitles are listed but you can’t click on them. It’s as if Insomniac were going to add them in but forgot to before releasing the game. I like to have subtitles on when I play games just in case I mishear something a character says (it’s rare that does happen but has done in the past).
The lack of subtitles also creates a problem, how are deaf people going to understand the story of Ratchet and Clank 2? It’s strange that there are no subtitles in such a high-profile game. It’s a huge oversight from Insomniac Games and Sony. The HD version of Ratchet and Clank 2 (which is a part of the Ratchet and Clank HD Trilogy that released on PS3) also lacks subtitles.
The story of Ratchet and Clank 2 follows on from the first game, Ratchet and Clank have become famous and are now celebrities. They are suddenly teleported by the CEO of Megacorp who tasks Ratchet with finding a stolen experiment whilst giving Clank a job in the company. What should be a simple enough task turns into a galactic quest as the thief escapes and has captured Clank.
For those worrying if the buddy cop relationship atmosphere is gone or has lessened do not fret, as you rescue Clank pretty early on and the witty banter that goes on between them carries on.
The story is bigger this time around and whilst told in a similar way, it is done better. You still go to planets, complete the objectives get a video detailing more of the story and a new location and you’re on your way but, it’s done in a way that makes it feel better. It’s hard to describe but the narrative does have a better flow this time around. Stories for sequels run the risk of not living up to the first one but Insomniac nailed it with Ratchet and Clank 2.
Ratchet and Clank 1 was a game that was so fun to play that going through the game again on “New Game Plus” is something I wouldn’t mind doing (and have done so several times). Outside of the main story though, there wasn’t much else to do apart from hoverboard racing. Thankfully, Ratchet and Clank 2 remedies this.
Ratchet and Clank provides a wealth of content to do outside of the main story. There are skill points for you to achieve and platinum bolts (these replace the gold bolts) to find. You can now level up weapons by using them in battle and once you max them out, you will unlock a more powerful version of the weapon used. Maxing out weapons can be done on your first playthrough but they will more than likely be done on your second playthrough.
There are optional Space battles that you can do so if you’re a fan of dogfighting in space then you can do so whilst earning money. Space fighting isn’t the only way to earn money though, as there are arenas with several rounds each with varying degrees of difficulty and payouts. Not only can you earn money by doing the arena but you can also level up your weapons too, it’s a win-win. Replacing the hoverboard racing is hoverbike racing which acts just like a race should but with weapons and boosts scattered along the track.
Insomniac knew that one area that would definitely have to improve on is replayability and boy did they. The story can take you anywhere between 10-15 hours and doing all the side content can run up between 30-40 hours. There’s plenty here for Ratchet and Clank fans and newcomers alike to try out. You could say that Ratchet and Clank 2 is “locked and loaded” with content (I’ll see myself out).
The first Ratchet and Clank laid the foundation for something great and Insomniac Games delivered the greatness, in the form of Ratchet and Clank 2. R&C 2 does exactly people expect from a sequel, be bigger and better. It improves upon nearly every aspect of the first game and then some. Whilst it does have some problems the camera and the odd omission of subtitles, Ratchet and Clank 2 provides a fun and memorable experience.
Ratchet and Clank 2 is a fantastic example of a sequel done right.
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