Ratchet and Clank: Size Matters: PSP Review - 05/02/2008

The Ratchet and Clank series has been a great triumph in the genre, mixing fast paced shooting mechanics with leisurely platforming sections and puzzles. This variety does the game a lot of justice and proves it to be one of the best action/adventure titles your money can buy.

This latest addition to the Ratchet and Clank series has a similar storyline and plot to the previous games on the PlayStation 2. It also holds its own when compared to the home console instalments. The plot is based around Ratchet and his robotic chum, Clank going off on a vacation but getting pulled into a trap by a little girl. Nothing is what it seems with a few good, but expected, twists and turns. The story is told very well and most cut scenes look crisp and detailed. The graphics are some of the best on any handheld, let alone Sony's PSP!

For the most part the quality of the graphics is exceedingly good, with only a few frame rate issues towards the end of the game when hordes of enemies adorn the screen. There was no sign of pop-up issues during the course of the game which was a surprise as most of them have at least a few on the PSP. All in then, the graphics are incredibly well done and compliment the game's excellent story. The audio also gets a big thumbs-up. With lasers that sound like they belong on the Death Star and a wrench clang that actually makes you feel like you're smashing an alien Weresheep in the face!

The enemies in the game are as hilarious and original as always.

The Gameplay is also incredibly simple and almost identical to the PlayStation 2's, although with the loss of an analogue stick and two shoulder buttons, it really pushes the boundaries of how a PSP game can control. It's simple and effective: it uses the nub for movement, O for shooting, Square for the wrench, Triangle for weapon selecting, X for jumping, directional buttons for strafing and R and L for camera control. It works perfectly, and you'll soon be forgetting that you're playing a PSP title, simply because it handles so well and has no camera trouble whatsoever. Playing the game is a real treat and contains several options. There are many armour pieces to collect throughout the game, and once you have a whole set you can use its power; so if you have a complete fire set, your wrench is capable of burning enemies on contact. You can even mix and match armour pieces with others to create special hidden sets that use unique powers and abilities.

Once you complete the game, as in most of the Ratchet games, you can choose to play again in challenge mode. This allows you to play through the entire game again, but at a higher difficulty setting. Since the main game is pretty short and easy, this adds some great replay value, as well as allowing you to collect some more armour pieces or to go back and find the last titanium bolts or do harder Clank Challenges. Clank Challenges are Size Matters' version of the Arena challenges from the other games. They involve Clank battling other bots in vehicles rather like Robot Wars, or guiding Gadgebots through a puzzle similar to Lemmings. These add more variety to the basic running and gunning and platforming that you'll be doing for most of it. There are also many bosses throughout every level - the first few being pretty simple, but the latter ones near the end a real pain and frustrating to dispatch. But when you finally do them, you'll feel a great sense of achievement that you just won't get from most PSP games, being easy and repetitive.

While it's great to begin with, the action sequences do begin to drag by the end.

Not to forget one of the better features of Ratchet's handheld is the multiplayer, that includes Ad Hoc mode for you and a local friend, and a Wi-Fi option to go all out from anywhere in the world, provided that there is an access point nearby. There are a few different modes, but nothing new if you've played the PlayStation 2 version's multiplayer. Still, it's brilliant that such an obscure title would include a deep multiplayer and still offer an excellent single player campaign.

- Sam Foster



High Impact Games
PSP - PS2 (March '08)