Ratchet and Clank: Size Matters first made its debut early last year on Sony’s PlayStation Portable. As with many titles on the system, Size Matters has since made the transition from handheld to home console, having now ended up on the PlayStation 2 a little more than a year after its initial release. Unfortunately, however, things haven’t panned out quite as well as developer High Impact Games might have hoped for. Essentially, while the game is not entirely devoid of merit, there are more than enough issues in regards to gameplay, visual tearing, and multiplayer to result in Size Matters ending up little more than a disappointing outing in a venerable franchise.
The overall story line is a decidedly weak affair; the cut scenes do not intertwine particularly well with the overall flow of the game, and the narrations feel loose and feel as if they lack in seriousness. The story itself sees Ratchet and Clank following the trail of a kidnapped girl named Luna. Along the way, the dynamic duo stumbles across a forgotten race of genius inventors known as the Technomites, and soon uncover a nefarious plot far worse than either could have ever imagined.
Fundamentally, the game sees you guiding the pair around a tropical island as they continue their pursuit of the kidnapped girl, bulldozing plants, robots, and any other bad guys in their path, while keeping in tune with the series successful blend of platform and shooting-based gameplay. You assume control of Ratchet – with Clank aiding you from the confines of a backpack - and explore various environments and settings, as you blast your way through enemies and collect Bolts throughout the journey. As fans of the Ratchet and Clank universe will recognize, Bolts act as a form of currency that can be spent on new weapons, ammo, and upgrades.
Indeed, Size Matters lives up to its predecessors in terms of collectables, delivering a diverse range of weapons and gadgets, many of which can be upgraded for increased functionality. This aspect can prove somewhat compelling if you are willing to pursue it, and the knowledge that your weapons can be kitted out with add-ons only offers further incentive for bashing up various foes you come across.
The strategic gameplay is undoubtedly the strongest attribute in the game. Along with a full collection of attack items, Ratchet can equip various armor sets with elemental alignments. Match the armor set and Ratchet’s attacks can be altered; for instance, you’ll be able to produce a wrench that possesses fire-based attacks. Ignoring the camera issues (which we’ll come to later), when the game is performing at its best, it is precise and the command input is generally very responsive; indeed, Size Matters is yet another Ratchet and Clank title that provides mirth and amusement, yet, regrettably, the remainder of the game is largely a negative affair.
Visually, Size Matters is largely underwhelming, and certainly doesn’t exhibit any noticeable improvements over its handheld counterpart. Environments are conspicuously dull and insipid, with some in-game objects so badly rendered that it almost makes you wonder if they were produced on the original PlayStation. Those of you hoping for at least some incremental touches over the PSP original will feel cheated to say the least – and with good reason.
Aside from the bland visuals, the game also boosts a number of other noticeable flaws, including – as mentioned previously - some rather horrid camera jitters. During heated battles, the camera angle will typically swing up and down within a restricted area, making your job all the more difficult. Additionally, the angle will often point directly at the ground completely obscuring your viewpoint, limiting any chance of remaining alive during enemy confrontations. Fortunately, it’s not a problem that sustains throughout the game, but it does appear enough to be an annoyance nonetheless.
Elsewhere, the mini-games on offer are fun in small, limited doses, but are ultimately as flawed as the rest of the game. To elaborate, the Skyboarding controls are difficult to turn and the hit-detection seems to not be performing at its highest standard. On the flip side, Clank’s destruction derby is not as shaky or unsteady, but is virtually devoid of any redeeming qualities whatsoever. Conclusively, while the mini-games do act as a means of passing some time from the main game itself, they do not ultimately provide an overall compelling experience.
The multiplayer in Size Matters is mostly objective based with minimal variety between each mode. The options are limited to only split-screen two players, and the game rarely works properly with two teams of one. Playing co-op isn’t as fun as it may sound, and merely consists of completing an assortment of disperate tasks with little to no reward. Along with the mini-games, it is just not a fantastic, thrilling way to pass some time from the main game.
Lastly, in addition to what has been mentioned thus far, there are the memorable glitches that the game holds so dearly from time to time. Ratchet and Clank: Size Matter’s audio often cuts out completely preceding a cutscene but the most obnoxious part of the game comes during some of the platform elements. You’ll come a cross a moment where Ratchet locates a platform, only for you to discover that pushing backwards on the analogue stick actually sends you forwards, resulting in Ratchet plummeting over the edge to his death. It is unexplainable occurrences such as this that you begin to realise just what an unforgivable travesty Size Matters can ultimately be.
-The Final Word-
Ratchet and Clank: Size Matters for the PS2 is full of merriment. Despite the glitches and flaws, when the gameplay is free from foreign or inappropriate elements, it is highly enjoyable. This game should be played by the faithful, constant, hardcore enthusiasts who were not able to get the game on the PSP.
|Platforms reviewed : PlayStation 2|