Jump to content
LCVG

My Love Letter to Insomniac Games


JFo
 Share

Recommended Posts

(I know I'm a bit late to the party, but I have to get this out of my system.)

 

A couple weeks ago, I purchased Star Wars: Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike, a game which I had been looking forward to with much anticipation. Imagine my dismay when I discovered that the game was completely mediocre on all levels (yes, even the much touted flight missions). The disappointment from this realization put me into a sort of mini-funk. I had just spent $50 on a game I didn't really like that much, and I needed something good, cheap, and fun to pull my spirits up.

 

That weekend, I picked up a used copy of Ratchet and Clank for $15 at a local Gamestop. I purchased it based on the recommendations of my fellow LCVG forum members, the good reviews I had read online, and my complete admiration for the platformer genre. I hoped for something decent; what I got may very well be the best 3D platformer I've played since Rayman 2: The Great Escape. In other words, I completely fell in love with this game.

 

So, what makes Ratchet so good? Really, its success derives from a number of factors that, when put together, equal more than the sum of its parts. Let's start by talking about the level design and the way this game is put together. The glut of 3D platformers these days simply copies the formula set forth by Super Mario 64. That is, they tend to be collect-a-thons. As fun as this formula can be when it is done well (Jak and Daxter executed it perfectly), it's left little room for any variety in the genre.

 

With Ratchet and Clank, your job is to not explore the levels like you did in Super Mario 64. The object is to simply get from point A to point B in one piece. In the process, you have to work your way past numerous enemies, many deadly traps, and countless treacherous jumps. The game has a much more linear design than many others of the genre, and in that regard, it shares a lot in common with the old 2D platformers, in which your objective was to also simply get to the end of the level without dying. Your efforts in Ratchet are always rewarded with some prize at the end, be it a new weapon, a new gadget, or an Infobot that will take you to the next world. At the same time, the levels are all designed in such a way that they quickly bring you back to the beginning without the need for endless backtracking. As a result, the game remains fun and exciting from beginning to end. Best of all, there are no mini-quests inserted towards the end to artificially lengthen the playtime. I spent at least 22 hours before I finally beat it, and I never got bored.

 

Another reason Ratchet plays so wonderfully is due to the integration of the weapon system. When I first read about the game, I worried that the weapons would simply be a novelty carelessly thrown in to differentiate it from other platformers. Thankfully, I my fears proved to be unfounded. The weapons not only provide some much needed variety, but each and every single one of them is useful in some way. Take, for instance, the level in which you encounter swarms of land sharks. Here, your trusty wrench isn't fast enough to fend them all off. Instead, your best bet is to use the Flame Thrower while running around in circles. On another level, the Taunter can lure enemies with long-range weapons closer to you for some easier hand-to-hand combat. And then there's the Glove of Doom, my favorite weapon, which allows you to stand back and watch as little explosive robots automatically seek out your prey and blow themselves up to save your butt. I've seen too many shooters in which you one gun becomes the be-all, end-all weapon for killing every single bad guy. Ratchet and Clank does not fall into this trap. They may not be flashy, but they get the job done.

 

I should also mention how much I enjoyed the story. Indeed, it was a simple tale, but one told well through amazingly well-animated cut scenes which clearly defined the characters, their motivations, and exactly what was happening and why, all with just the right dose of humor mixed in. Too many games, I feel, try to be overly enigmatic with their plotlines, leaving you to wonder just what the hell is going on. That's not the case here. You know what you?re doing and as a result all the characters, from Ratchet and Clank to Captain Qwark and the plumber become endearing and memorable.

 

Finally, let me talk about the technical aspects of the game. Graphically, this may be the most visually impressive PS2 title that I have yet played. The levels have incredible scale, stretching out far from the limits of the levels themselves. The characters models all look remarkably smooth and detailed, and the texture work, while simple, presents a bright and colorful variety to each level. The real-time graphics are so good, that at first I could not distinguish between them and the pre-rendered cut scenes.

 

My only real criticism comes from the game's soundtrack. I was eager to hear this one on my Pro-Logic II capable system, and I must admit, I was a little disappointed. The sound, for the most part, remained in the front soundstage, with very little activity in the surrounds. I would have loved to hear the sounds of bullets whizzing past my head or the roar of a vicious monster behind me. For that matter, some more ambient noise from the environment would have been nice (although the Gadgetron world did have a lot of traffic activity running through the surrounds). Stranger still, the music sounded extremely subdued, coming almost exclusively from my center channel speaker. I hope that they spread out the mixes a little so that the music can sound fuller, with more life in the sequel.

 

Speaking of which, I it should be obvious that I am totally stoked now for Going Commando. Even though I only have to wait less than a week to buy it, that still seems like it's too long. I can't wait to play some of the Maxi Games, as well as try out the new weapons and the new RPG-like elements. I downloaded an interview with the President of Insomniac Games at IGN, and he confirmed that Going Commando would not only support progressive scan, but it would also run in 16:9! I?ll admit let out a Homer Simpson-like ?WOOHOO!? when I heard that.

 

Tuesday cannot get here fast enough.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree with you on all points regarding R&C. One of the best platforming games ever, and easily the best 3D platformer since Rayman 2.

 

I also loved the first Jak and Daxter, but haven't yet tried Jak2.

 

Sly Cooper is also a fantastic platformer, and can be had for a good price.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

No, I have not played Sly Cooper. However, I will look into it.

 

I must admit that I'm happy with my purchase of the PS2, mostly because of the abundance of good platformers, a genre that is sorely lacking on the GameCube and the Xbox.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the link, Carlucci! I can't wait to play it.

 

I was just checking out Sly Cooper and something caught my eye: the developer, a little studio called Sucker Punch. They're responsible for a fun little N64 game called Rocket: Robot on Wheels. If they're behind Sly Cooper, I suspect it will be decent enough. :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So have any of you picked up Going Commando yet? I'm dying to pick this game up, but I have bought so many other games of late that it's just eating at me. I still haven't picked up SOCOM II or Jak II yet, either, let alone the other console titles I want (Top Spin, Viewtiful Joe, Rebel Strike, HELP!).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Three hours before I can play it.

 

Oh, the anticipation is killing me. That's it, I'm quitting my job and going home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All right, I won't "quit" my job. However, I will not perform my tasks with the same level of enthusiasm as I would give on a normal day. I will, in essence, "quit" caring. That's how a real man takes a stand against his corporate oppressors! Ha!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm three hours into Ratchet and Clank: Going Commando now. At this point, I have no complaints whatsoever. None. In fact, I exceptionally happy with the number of improvements/enhancements this new game features. It's as if Insomniac took all these great ideas for a game they never got to make and put them into this one.

 

I don't want to say too much before I have a chance to get through more of it (or better yet, all of it). However, I will say that if you enjoyed the first game, this one will definitely please you as well.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I thought that R&C had great level, weapon and character design, an amusing story, wonderful voice acting, and was incredibly boring. Destroying thousands of crates and endless nuts & bolts collecting was not my idea of a good time. I liked a lot of the weapons, but once I realized I could simply use the standard gun and stand just beyond the enemy AI's range and pick them off unawares, I lost interest. Is R&C:GC just more of the same? I'm not saying it was not a good game, or that you're all fools for liking it, but it was not my beverage of choice. I wanted to like it, and if the sequel improved on those issues I might give the series another chance.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well right now i am getting my arse really handed to me, the standard gun isnt doing much and you need to use all weapons because u will just run out of ammo, there is only one gun so far you can use to snip enimies and you only get 8 shots max without getting more ammo, I never played the first, but this game is great and def getting more challenging the deeper i get.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by adamsappel@Nov 13 2003, 09:40 AM

I thought that R&C had great level, weapon and character design, an amusing story, wonderful voice acting, and was incredibly boring. Destroying thousands of crates and endless nuts & bolts collecting was not my idea of a good time. I liked a lot of the weapons, but once I realized I could simply use the standard gun and stand just beyond the enemy AI's range and pick them off unawares, I lost interest.

With all due respect, did you play through the whole game? Did you play any of the Clank missions? Did you play any of ther shooter missions? Any of the stealth missions? Any of the boss battles? Any of the giant Clank missions? Any of the gravity boot missions?

 

This game had so much variety and need for multiple weapons that I didn't even notice the collection part aside from getting some money to make my weapons even cooler.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by adamsappel:

I liked a lot of the weapons, but once I realized I could simply use the standard gun and stand just beyond the enemy AI's range and pick them off unawares, I lost interest.

 

Believe me, you cannot get through the entire game like this. You most certainly won't be able to use your standard blaster with any degree of success against the tanks. You most certainly wouldn't be able to use it against some of the hover craft that wait out in the distance and shoot an endless barrage of missles at you if you get too close. You most certainly can't use it against the swarms of giant crab creatures that sleep peacefully until you touch them or something else alerts them to your pressence.

 

As I said in my initial post, all of the weapons are necessary and all of them are incredibly useful. You may have discovered this if you had played through it some more.

 

Here's another thing to keep in mind. At first, I thought the game started out pretty good, but I found that I grew more and more fond of it as I played it through. I do believe it is one of those games that requires a player to get through most, if not all, of it to really appreciate it. But, if you found it boring and didn't like it, that's fine too. If that's the case, don't bother with the sequel, as it does feel very much like a continuation of the first one.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

All right, I'm sitting here now, having just beaten Ratchet and Clank: Going Commando, less than one week after I purchased it, and with about 22 hours of playtime clocked in.

 

Typically, when I've put that many hours into a game, I've had enough and am ready to move on to the next great thing. And while I will move on to the next game on my list (Prince of Persia simply cannot be ignored by me a single second longer), I feel as though I haven't had enough. I want more. I want more weapons. I want more race challenges. I want to do more battles in the arenas. I want more flight missions. I want more spherical levels with Giant Clank (who looks remarkably like The Iron Giant when he flies). I want to get that armored suit that costs 1.5 millon bolts. And yes, I want the Zodiac.

 

I guess you could say, I wish the game kept going on and on. Either that, or I want the next one to come out right now. Insomniac, get your butt in gear! Another year (presumably) is too long to wait for another Ratchet and Clank game!

 

Fortunately, when this holiday season is over, and I've played through all of the titles on my X-mas list, I will be able to go back and play through this game again. This time it will be on challenge mode, a much more difficult version of the game where you can earn voluminous quantities of bolts as well as the chance to upgrade your weapons even further. Think of it as the hard mode for a game that's already pretty tough. Don't worry, you do get to keep all your weapons and all of the bolts you already have from the first round. I know that this is going to be one of those games, much like Metroid Prime, Splinter Cell, and Halo, to which I return in the not-too-distant future. For me to rank Going Commando with those three games should give you an idea how much I liked it.

 

Simply put... one of the year's best. Play it now, if you haven't already.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...
Originally posted by stencil:

At what point can I re-buy my weapons from R&C?

 

You won't have to wait too long. The old weapons come back a few levels into the game. You'll know you're close when you see a building with a big, run-down Gadgetron logo.

 

Don't expect to use them too much, however, as the bad guys eventually become so powerful that using something like the Bomb Glove on them is about as deadly as a spitting in their eye.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Don't expect to use them too much, however, as the bad guys eventually become so powerful that using something like the Bomb Glove on them is about as deadly as a spitting in their eye.

 

I can see that already. The difficulty of the first couple levels is already up there. There was one section I had to redo three times already, and it had a pretty brutal re-start point.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

I finally got around to checking out the second Ratchet & Clank, and I must say I'm very impressed. I knew I would be just by the word of mouth it got. It was pretty cool when the default, wussy laser gun automatically upgraded and turned into a much more kickass weapon.

 

Anyhow, some friends and I were trying to figure out what kind of animal Ratchet is supposed to be. We've seen plumbers, bandicoots, hedgehogs, raccoons and whatever Daxter is (hmm what's Daxter, a weasel?), but we couldn't seem to come to a consensus on Ratchet. A cat is the most popular right now, but it doesn't seem right. Anybody know? Should I RTFM?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...