Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters
As with so many PlayStation 2 franchises, Ratchet & Clank are also making the jump to the PlayStation Portable. Developed by High Impact Games, Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters doesn’t really try to reinvent the franchise, but it features all of the things that made it a success in the first place.
The main problem with third-person titles on the PSP is camera control. But like that other great platforming game, Daxter, Size Matters succeeds in delivering a very adequate control scheme.
It’s still not perfect, but without a second analog stick, I doubt it will ever be. You can rotate the camera by using the shoulder buttons and you can center it behind Ratchet by pressing both at the same time. By default, strafing controls are mapped to the D-pad, but there is another option that maps them to the analogue stick. I highly recommend playing that way, as you’ll have a much easier time evading enemy fire.
As with other R&C titles, the storyline takes you to a myriad of exotic planets. Though some locations are starting to feel familiar, they are still as colourful and well-designed as always. You’ll visit tropical beaches, neon-filled megacities and remote space stations. Though the PS2 games offer larger, more lively worlds, the PSP version isn’t far off.
The high level of detail on the characters and the exquisite lighting and particle effects make this one great looking PSP game. The game is generally very fluent, but when there are a ton of enemies on-screen, it occasionally stutters. The game only needs to load when you’re visiting a new planet and even then, it doesn’t take too long. It’s nice to see Huge Impact Games already doing so much with the PSP’s hardware, despite being a relatively new studio. The sound effects are good too, but the music is a bit standard. The cast has once again done a fine job casting Clank, Ratchet, Quark and the many other characters, but frankly, only the opposite would have surprised me.
Of course this wouldn’t be a vintage Ratchet & Clank game without a wide array of powerful, over-the-top weapons. While some weapons feel familiar, like the Scorcher (flamethrower) and Concussion Gun (shotgun), there are quite a few brand-new toys to play with, such as the Bee Hive Gun or the Mootator, which turns enemies into cows. As always, the R.Y.N.O. (a multi-missile launcher) is by far the most powerful toy, but it won’t be unlocked until you’ve finished the game at least once.
All weapons gain experience as you use them (until they ultimately transform into a more powerful version) and some can even be equipped with ‘semi-legal modifications’, as they say in the game. Your armour can also be improved, but unlike before, you can’t buy new suits, which means you’ll have to find them. Every armour set is comprised of four parts (helmet, gloves, body part and boots) and when you find all four, you’ll even get extra powers. For instance, the Crystallix suit causes crystals to erupt from the ground, which deal bonus damage to enemies. Some sets won’t be available until your second -or even third- play-through.
Indeed, if you want to gather everything in the game, you’ll have to finish the game more than once. Reaching the end shouldn’t take you more than six hours, which is a bit on the short side. However, the aforementioned replay value more than makes up for that.
Though running through the levels and blowing everything up will take up most of your time, Size Matters also offers other things to do. There are a few very enjoyable StarFox-style space missions as Giant Clank, where you fly along a set path and just fire away at the many spaceships that cross your path. Furthermore, the game is spiced up with a few minigames, most notably skyboard races, Lemmings-like puzzles, demolition derbies and a futuristic version of soccer. Next to garnering all the weapons and armour pieces, you can also search for the 20 titanium bolts scattered across the levels or try and grab all the skill points. Both will earn you extra unlockable stuff.
Though it hardly offers something new, Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters is yet another very amusing title in the series. It’s surprising to see so little has been lost in the translation to PSP. Thanks to its great gameplay and beaturtiful graphics, Size Matters is definitely a recommended purchase.