Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Game Review: Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando

Mr. Fizzwidget: One of the most clueless characters in the series
During my slow revival as a gamer, I turned to Playstation 2 games to obtain gameplay experiences that I found to be unique, and it turns out that I chose the right kinds of games. One of these games happens to be Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando, the 2nd installment of a long running franchise that many gamers still adore today. While I have talked about the potential future of Ratchet & Clank regarding their reboot which is coming soon, I would like to take a step back and review this game to give my thoughts on how well the series executed its mission back in the day.

Who is this guy pictured above? Oh, that's Mr. Fizzwidget, a guy who clearly comes across as one of the most clueless characters in the entire Ratchet & Clank franchise, and probably in video game history as well. I will talk about him later...

Controls - 20 out of 20 Points

One of the best things about playing a Ratchet & Clank game would be the controls. Here in Going Commando, this is especially the case. Once you learn how to control Ratchet and the various weapons that he will collect throughout this long adventure, you will get a better feel for the game as a whole. You will get a better sense of what to do, when to perform an action, and when to strategize. The gameplay controls make your learning experience seamless, and after playing this game a few times, it's hard to forget which buttons to press.

I was amazed by how comfortable this game's controls were. Going Commando was the first Ratchet & Clank game I played and it didn't disappoint in this department. The gameplay itself contained a ton of variety, which I am a strong advocate of, and it kept me interested in the sense that I knew I didn't have to use just one weapon in order to get past a daunting obstacle. The use of weapons is Ratchet's M.O., so to speak. Without any weapons except for his handy dandy wrench, Ratchet will have trouble getting past many areas.

Above and Below: What you will see in the Inventory

Clank also proves to be very useful as he will occasionally be given robot companions to guide through the smaller parts of areas, places Ratchet can't venture into. I found Clank's solo gameplay parts to be very interesting as he showed solid leadership skills, utilizing the strengths of his peers. Clank can also get a special add-on where he can become a giant, attacking big baddies in important boss battles. Just think of the Transformers series when picturing Clank powering up. I admit that when Clank battles a huge boss, I can't help but think that I'm watching some sort of King Kong monster movie or something.

Back to Ratchet, it seems to me that Insomniac Games has a clear view of how to handle him as a character. When it comes to using gadgets and gizmos, Insomniac almost always puts in something for Ratchet to use that becomes helpful at some point during gameplay. If you're in the mood to throw Ninja Stars at enemies, then so be it. If you're in the mood to just blow up everything that's in your way, then you can have it your way, almost like Galaxy Burger... er... Burger King.

Graphics - 19 out of 20 Points

Amazing. Simply amazing for its time. You can tell that Insomniac Games put a great amount of time in making sure that every detailed graphic was up to par with the gameplay experience. You only need to play through this game to get an idea of how beautiful some of the graphics are. Some of the design choices did swing and miss, but I wouldn't worry too much about any of the off-putting designs. 

Story - 17 out of 20 Points


Laughing out loud. I couldn't help but keep doing this while watching some of the scenes that occurred in this game. When engaging in the Ratchet & Clank game universe, expect the unexpected in the comedy department. Whether the jokes revolved around the Protopet, the mysterious masked thief (who turned out to be Angela Cross), Mr. Fizzwidget and his everlasting clueless demeanor, or Captain Qwark being foolish, there was always something to laugh about. Some things felt out of place during scenes, but for all the right comedic reasons. Those things were purposely done. Insomniac has done a great job over the years of making light of otherwise serious adventure plots with the inclusion of comedy spots.

"Dang! A space cat blowin' up a giant killer robot? RUN FOR THE HILLS!"
The story for Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando, in all seriousness, wasn't perfect. The story certainly had bright and funny moments, but there were also times when it just wasn't necessary to add certain elements. I laughed at many things in this game, but not at everything. Comedy is interpreted differently by everybody, so it's only typical that I wouldn't find some things funny.

Creatively speaking, though, Going Commando definitely hit the mark. I loved the sudden change of alignments midway through the game as the player finds out that the mysterious masked thief was Angela Cross, a female Lombax who was really trying to do some good for her home planet. I came away from this game wondering why a character like Angela never showed up again in the R&C series because it seemed to me that she would have staying power had Insomniac Games further developed her character. It remains to be seen if Angela Cross will ever be brought back, but let's hope so.

After a while, and I'm glad I didn't forget about this, it seemed to me that Mr. Fizzwidget, both the real one and the fake one, came across as absolutely clueless about everything that was going on. It amazed me just how clueless this guy turned out to be after he initially made the call to Ratchet and Clank for help. He wasn't very helpful, but hey, that was the point after all.

Music - 18 out of 20 Points

I will make this brief about the music. I loved most of the soundtracks. These tunes were very upbeat and appropriate for the setting of this game. It was easy for me to get into these soundtracks because they fit right in with what I was doing, just blasting away at enemies and hoping to survive long enough to hear the best parts of the soundtrack. There were a couple tunes I could do without, because of repetition, but most of which I would like to remember for some time to come. These tunes are a must-listen.

Replayability Factor - 19 out of 20 Points

"I wonder what this thing does!"
Simply put, if you are a gamer looking for a legitimate challenge, this is definitely a game you want to consider picking up. Especially if you were already familiar with this kind of game, as in you played the first Ratchet & Clank game, then you will have no problem jumping into Going Commando. The learning curve here is pretty much the same as it was in the first game, and the changes that were made here don't hinder anything. In the heat of gameplay, you will be thoroughly challenged by enemies who sometimes won't give you any breaks, meaning that you have to stay on your toes.

I believe that at least 95% of all the gameplay elements you encounter in this game have a legitimate purpose behind them. When you use a weapon in a particular area, you most likely have to use it to give yourself an easier time, and that's where the game's strategy comes in. I really like that. You have to pay attention to detail as well as blow things up into oblivion. That is a good mixture for a very enjoyable gaming experience.

Overall Score - 93 out of 100 Points (No Bonus Points)

I want to add that Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando is the kind of game for people to jump into if they want to become gamers. This is the type of experience that you can take in and come away with feeling some sense of accomplishment. I can't say that I was fan of everything I saw in this game as I believe that some things could have been left out, but this is overall something to go back to and blitz through if you are bored and want a taste of nostalgic gaming. 

Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando is easily one of the best games I have ever played strictly from a gameplay perspective. I just loved how the gameplay flowed from beginning to end. By the way, a good tip would be to constantly upgrade your aircraft because you may otherwise get stuck in certain areas. I encountered this problem and it wasn't pretty. "Can someone lend me some Raritanium?"

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