Review: Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando (Playstation 2)

In this review, we save the galaxy in the Playstation 2 game Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando. We find out how well this adventure game plays.

This game was released in 2003 and is the sequel to the game Ratchet & Clank. When we reviewed the previous game, it got a great score, so we decided to continue playing this series to see what it’s like.

The story continues off where the previous game left off. Ratchet & Clank has saved the galaxy and got a bunch of gigs after for their heroics. Unfortunately, things have gotten somewhat boring because the galaxy no longer needs saving. Meanwhile, in another galaxy, Abercrombie Fizzwidget, owner of Megacorp sees their transmission and decides that he has finally found the people he is looking for. So, he teleports Ratchet & Clank from the interview and explains that he needs their help to find the stolen protopet. After dazzling the two main protagonists with rewards, the two set out to retrieve the stolen property.

There are a number of familiar features in this game if you’ve only played the first game. For one, the quick select weapon system makes a return. This is the system that allows players to quickly select a weapon from a simple ring. For another, those small shops also make a return to sell you weapons. As you complete levels, more weapons become available for purchase.

The weapons themselves are both familiar and new. Ratchet has the default wrench which he can use as a melee weapon. The other weapons are swapped out and used one at a time. There is a bomb glove, Tesla gun, and even the Walloper to name a few returning weapons. There is a host of new weapons, however. This includes the Synthenoid, Shield Charger, and Seeker Gun. There is a bunch of weapons in this game with their own strengths and weaknesses, but describing all of them would take forever. Let’s just say there is a huge variety to choose from. Some have ammo, others don’t need it.

Also making a return are various tools. Some can be selected and used while others are automatic. The Infiltrator can be selected and used. Now, where this game improves in this front is the fact that if you find a module to use an item such as the infiltrator, the game will recognize context sensitivity a bit like the N64 game Conquers Bad Fur Day. You just press the triangle when the message pops up to use it. Not all tools work like this, but some do which certainly saves a step or two from time to time.

Some gadgets are automatic and can’t be selected to be used. Anything that saves an unnecessary step is always a positive in my books, so this isn’t a bad thing. An example of this is the grind boots. You just jump on a rail and you’ll automatically begin grinding (assuming you have the item in the first place pf course).

Now, here is where the game begins to diverge from the previous game. There are certain things you can train and improve on. It basically takes an RPG element and brings it into an adventure setting which is interesting in and of itself.

Most of the training improves weapons. An example of this is the Lancer. When you equip this weapon, you might notice a small meter underneath it. As you kill off enemies with this weapon, that meter will begin to fill. So, if you fill it all the way up, it will upgrade to the Heavy Lancer which is a more powerful version of this weapon. The meter will stay filled and the icon will turn orange to indicate that it is the upgraded version. You can only upgrade a portion of the weapons. If you can’t upgrade it, then it will simply either show a full meter or no meter at all depending on the menu.

What may be confusing at first is the fact that there is a second meter that fills up as you kill off enemies. It doesn’t matter if you are whacking them with your wrench or blowing them up with another weapon. As long as you are killing enemies, you are filling this meter sitting below your health. What you are training is your overall health capacity (AKA nanotech). Once you fill this meter, you will become electrified and kill off all enemies in view. After that, your health capacity will increase by one hit. I honestly don’t know how high this goes, but I do know I’ve upgraded that quite a bit all the way to the end of the game and didn’t see an end in sight. This takes into account a reasonable amount of grinding to boot.

Another way this game diverges from the previous game is the fact that there are multiple retailers available. There is a special vendor that sells special weapons somewhere in the game. It’s only in one location of the game, so if you want to save up for some special weapons, you need to remember where this vendor is located.

In addition to this is the armour vendor. These are much more rare then the weapons vendor, but do make a number of appearances – especially on the back half of the game. These vendors will upgrade your armour and allow you to take less damage for the same hits. Weapons vendors are blue while the armour vendors are yellow.

Another new concept in this game is the use of multiple currencies. Bolts are the main form of currencies, but there are smaller currencies to be found throughout the game. The next most prominent currency is raritanium. You can either find these while fighting it out in flight mini-games taking out enemies or dig them up with the mining equipment in two different locations. You have limited opportunities to collect these items, but you can easily grind for it. Raritanium is used to buy upgrades for your ship. Believe me, you’ll need a few sooner or later to complete some of the harder missions in the game.

There are two more minor forms of currencies. One are crystals found in a desert planet. At first, they are just used to repair your ship, but after that, you can clear out the rest and trade them in for an additional boost in bolts. Each crystal is sold for 1,000 bolts, so it winds up being worthwhile to collect as many as possible. An ice planet has moon stones. At first, they are used to move a rock and collect a required piece of equipment. However, after that, they are used to earn bolts. Each moon stone is sold for 3,000 bolts. Again, a worthwhile thing to grind for even if it is found in a really hostile location.

Like the previous game, there are a number of mini-games to be played. One mini-game is the various dogfights available. You get to play them as you stumble across them between planets. While the first mission is always mandatory, you get the chance to take on additional missions for additional bolts. Many of them are certainly worth taking on to make a number of weapons more affordable.

A second mini-game is the racing missions. Again, the first ones are always mandatory, but after that, there is a series of challenges that are optional for additional bolts. Definitely worth pursuing especially early on in the game.

A fourth mini-game is the arena. Like other’s, the first challenge is mandatory to advance the story. The other challenges, however, grant you additional bolts. Some have special requirements to fulfill, but are largely just pitting you against various waves of enemies.

A third mini-game is the electroliser puzzle. This minigame is necessary to get further into the game. Each puzzle features a series of sparks floating around on a grid. You have a bunch of little objects in this grid that you either rotate vertically or horizontally. The goal is to allow the sparks to enter each object. Miss one as the sparks approach and it’s game over. You have to rotate every object all at once which adds to the challenge.

Meanwhile, the infiltrator puzzles are new to this game. You have a starting point on a sphere and you need to navigate a more or less invisible maze within a time limit. Get to the end in time and you unlock whatever it is you need to unlock. Run out of time and you’ll be sent back to the beginning.

Making a return is the Clank bot missions. Clank can control various small bots to perform different tasks a bit like Pikmin. You can get them to halt, follow, attack, or enter. What’s new, however, are the additional tool bots. They can’t really attack, but they can perform special tasks. Lift bots lift objects. Bridge bots will bridge large gaps. Finally, the hammer bot will hammer various objects. Sometimes, you can destroy obstructions, but other times, you can hit seesaws to propel you and other bots to higher ground. There aren’t that many of these puzzles like this, though.

A side mission in this game revolves around platinum bolts. Like the previous game, platinum bolts are used to upgrade weapons. These upgrades, however, come in sooner in the game. You can spend platinum bolts to get special upgrades such as electric charge shots or lock on mechanisms.

Like the previous game, there are skill points you can collect. Skill points in this game have a hint, but by and large, you just collect them on the fly. The more skill points you earn, the more special features you unlock.

Also like the previous game, you can enter into a challenge after you beat the game or simply warp back to before you beat the final boss. Challenge mode gets you to replay the whole game, only with all of your upgrades intact. The caveat is that enemies are generally tougher. A bonus, however, is the bolt multiplier. If you defeat an enemy, your bolt multiplier goes up by one. You can keep going for a maximum of x20. The thing is, if you take damage, your multiplier resets. Still, you can get a great way to earn a lot of extra bolts should you take on this mode.

One thing I like about this game is the expansion of optional quests and side missions. Not only do they give you some added variety for the whole game, but they also allow players to play to their style. Some players might be more into completion of everything, so they can just keep taking down various challenges for added rewards. Meanwhile, if you are the type of player that just wants to race through the game and complete it as quickly as possible, that option is available too.

Another positive is the training system. You aren’t really expected to grind a whole lot to get the upgrades as you can get a number of them just by emphasizing its use as you go along. Still, you can challenge yourself and get as many upgrades as possible by replaying different planets for that added training. The more your grind, the easier time you’ll have with later missions, but that decision is left to the player.

In addition to this, I do like the games length overall. Even if you are going at this game with speed in mind, it’ll still take your average casual run at least 3 days to complete. So, there is a lot to enjoy in this game even if you are going to a quicker run.

I also thought the checkpoint system was certainly reasonable. If you die, you’ll get sent back to the previous checkpoint. Enemies will respawn, but you can take the opportunity to train up for a higher health capacity while you are at it at least. You can also learn from your mistakes while you are at it.

While I do have a lot of ways in which I can heap praise on this game, this game is by no means perfect. Probably the biggest problem this game suffers is targeting. A lot of weapons have tracking capabilities. This includes the turret and chopper weapons. This seems all well and good until you realize that a critical requirement for tracking capabilities is the ability to see your enemies. If you find yourself running away, you need to run towards the camera in order for some of these weapons to work. Otherwise, they will never track even if the enemy in question is breathing down your neck.

On a related note, locking onto enemies seems to be a bit on the buggy side. It wasn’t something I noticed right away, but in later missions, some objects and enemies won’t lock on very well. As a result, some of my shots miss and get me to take damage.

One issue I had with the previous game is the fact that health can really only be refilled either by going from one planet to another or by collecting the nanotech objects. You can’t replenish your health otherwise. In this game, this has been mildly improved with the pink health restoring four hits. Additionally, every time you upgrade your nanotech capacity, you get your health fully restored. Still, it would have been nice to have the occasional area to replenish my health completely or get the ability to buy health at vendors. So, while improved somewhat, I find this to be a bit of a flaw in the game itself.

Otherwise, I really didn’t have much to complain about in this game. I found a lot of reasons to like this such as the wide variety of missions and mini-games as well as the upgraded weapons upgrade system. The training of health also winds up being a plus for me as well as all the optional missions to help give yourself a leg up on things. The targeting and locking is both bugged and flawed in my books, but that’s about the only real complaints I have. So, generally speaking, this game is quite solid.

Graphically, this game works quite well. The scenery and the various locations are nicely designed. The animation sequences both major and minor all work quite well. What I think is a nice feature is the heatwave and punch effects from heat or shockwaves. I thought this gave the game a nice look and feel overall. So, an impressive visual experience in my books.

In the audio department, I thought this game does build on the success of the previous game. The music is nicely done even though I still think nothing really stands out especially for me. I’d still say the music is pretty solid nevertheless. Meanwhile, the voice acting is nicely done. Also, the sound effects are quite solid. So, a great effort all around if you ask me.

Overall, this is definitely a great game worth playing. It has a lot of variety and there really isn’t much of a learning curve. The training meters do take a little getting used to, but that’s about it. The locking system is bugged and limited, unfortunately, but that’s really the only gameplay complaints I could come up with. It’s all positive from there. The graphics feature some great effects and the scenery and animation sequences are nicely done. Meanwhile, the audio is pretty solid all around too. So, definitely a recommended game in my books.

Furthest point in game: Beat the game and played a few minutes on challenge mode.

General gameplay: 21/25
Replay value: 8/10
Graphics: 9/10
Audio: 4/5

Overall rating: 84%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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