Anyone can make a game. It’s true; just run down to your local game shop and pick a game off of a shelf. It doesn’t matter which shelf or even which platform. Chances are, you’ll find more games that aren’t worth the $1.13 it cost to package it, let alone 50 hard-earned greenbacks. So when a game comes out that’s actually good, gamers notice, and when the sequel is made, we’ll all be playing it trying to see if it stacks up to our beloved original. Sequels and trilogies tend to sink past the depths of mediocrity rather than rise up to become a stellar franchise. But Insomniac Games has achieved greatness with its third installment of the Ratchet & Clank series, and for that, everyone should take notice.
Besides having one of the best titles ever, Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal has a plethora of fun and useful weapons. Some games give you tons of weapons, but you rarely find occasion to use them all. Instead, you pick a few favorites and stick with those. But Up Your Arsenal has such an assorted variety, each with a different function, that you’ll end up using most of them and love every minute of it.
Each weapon seems as if it were created for specific situations and enemies. While your Plasma Whip might work wonders on the tribesmen on Planet Florana, it may not be as effective as the Plasma Cannon against the giant sewer slug monsters on Aquatos. And who doesn’t love taking out an enemy from a hidden location with a well-placed shot to the head? Bust out the Flux Rifle for some great sniping opportunities.
The system for using these weapons has been improved from previous Ratchet & Clank games, and it works beautifully. You now have the ability to cycle through your three most recently used weapons, just by quickly tapping the triangle button. This comes in quite handy when you’re facing a particularly nasty boss, as it allows you to better plan your attack. Ammunition can be found in abundance throughout the levels and can also be bought from vendors.
The vendors have been upgraded as well, having a much more streamlined interface that allows players to quickly and efficiently replenish all their weapons at once. Up Your Arsenal has added the “Max Ammo” button, which will automatically fill all your weapons to full capacity. There’s also a vendor aboard the Starship Phoenix, which allows you to test out new weapons in the VR Arena before you buy them.
As with its predecessor, Up Your Arsenal has incorporated various weapon upgrades, making already-great weapons even better. Just by using a weapon you can increase its firepower, ammo limit or blast radius. If you like a particular weapon, you may find yourself using it as much as possible just to get the upgrades.
Another great addition to Up Your Arsenal is the Vid-comics. Certain missions will reward you with a Captain Quark Vid-comic, which you can take back to your room and actually play. These are simple, side scrolling 2D platform games that chronicle the adventures of Captain Quark. These mini-games are quite fun, and you will probably find yourself going through them several times either to find that last token or to beat your previous best.
The level designs are fantastic and add to the seamless feel of the gameplay, as does the way each level is tied together. Every level has a main mission, and most have several optional missions that offer more bolts. You can replay a level at any time by returning to your ship and selecting a planet. Some levels will require you to go through them again at a higher difficulty or to explore them with a new gadget, but going back to these levels doesn’t seem like a chore. This is probably due to the fact that you don’t need to go through the entire level again. Instead, you can just find what you need and leave.
As if all of this weren’t enough, Insomniac Games has added both a four-player multiplayer mode (with a multi-tap) and broadband capabilities for up to eight. The gameplay modes in Up Your Arsenal include the traditional Deathmatch and Capture the Flag modes, but the Siege Mode is a true treat. This mode works much the same as Star Wars Battlefront (read DailyGame’s review), or the Territories mode in Halo 2 (read DailyGame’s review) in which players fight to maintain control of their own bases while capturing the enemy’s. These multiplayer options and the game’s inherent fast-paced style create some incredible action that leaves gamers very satisfied.
One more plus for the replay value of Up Your Arsenal is the Challenge Mode, which allows you to play through the game against tougher enemies while retaining all of your weapons, experience points and bolts from the previous journey. The enemies pack a bigger punch in this mode, and you can buy even more upgrades to your weapons. Challenge Mode also offers combos, and the more enemies you defeat without getting hit, the more bolts you earn.
It seems as if there aren’t enough adjectives to describe the graphics, but “vivid,” “colorful” and “vibrant” would be a good start. The graphics aren’t a huge leap over Going Commando, but things have definitely been given a little more oomph. Even the bolts seem more alive. However, while the game looks great, the PS2 shows its age. There’s quite a bit of pop-up in Up Your Arsenal, and while it doesn’t detract much from the game, I found it to be annoying. Still, that’s a minor quibble, because overall the game is impeccably polished, with fantastic explosions, lush and diverse environments among the planets and outstanding character animations.
The dialogue in Up Your Arsenal is as funny as ever, with some scenes that might have you rolling on the floor. The scene with Ratchet imitating pop star Courtney Gears is absolutely hilarious. Still, much like the graphics, the sound doesn’t improve much from the last game, although everything is amplified a bit. The voice acting and ambient sounds are particularly good, as they were in previous games.
Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal is a fantastic game. It has beautiful graphics, smooth controls and plenty of different modes to keep gamers busy. With the addition of multiplayer and online modes, Up Your Arsenal will stay in your PS2 for quite some time. Other improvements add to the already-solid gameplay, tweaking the game to near perfection. Insomniac delivers another great sequel, one that will be sure to please.
- Gameplay: 9.7
- Continues the tradition of fast and fun gameplay, with plenty of weapons and smooth controls.
- Graphics: 9.6
- A great-looking game, with colorful and vibrant graphics and some great explosions.
- Sound: 9.2
- Great voice acting, a Ratchet & Clank staple, infused with some humorous dialogue.
- Replay: 9.6
- Even without the multiplayer and online play, it’s worth a second go. The Challenge mode is also a nice addition.
- Overall: 9.6
- Once again, Insomniac Games presents a beautiful, technically superb game. With some great tweaks and additions, newcomers and fans alike will not be disappointed. It’s a joy to play.
— Jocelyn Paradise