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Developer:
Insomniac
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Platform: PS2
Release Date: October 25, 2005

by Josh Ferguson




The Ratchet & Clank series has been one of the more popular platformers for the PlayStation 2 console. Since the release of the original, the series has been a hit with both buyers and critics. With Ratchet: Deadlocked, the fourth installment now released for the PS2, fans can once again expect to see another great game in an excellent series.


Ratchet: Deadlocked begins with reports of several different heroes that have mysteriously vanished, the most recent of which is Captain Starshield, who reportedly has been killed while participating in an illegal combat game known as "Dreadzone." Dreadzone is the newest fad in reality television, but of course many of the participants don't see it that way and are normally abducted and forced to participate. However, Gleeman Vox, the individual in charge of Dreadzone, realizes that his show can't reach its full potential until the arrival of the most famous hero of them all, Ratchet! Vox soon sends his forces to capture Ratchet, Clank and Al and bring the group back where the legendary Ratchet will be forced to take part in the death-defying sport.


While earlier installments of the series featured Clank participating in the field alongside Ratchet, this time the gun-slinging hero is alone. Instead, Clank is used as a means of gathering intelligence and sorting out the information that you will acquire while on your adventure. Of course, Al will not be able to participate in combat either, and stays behind trying to figure out how to free the group from the collars that have been placed around the necks of the three. If the collars are tampered with, it seems that they will immediately explode, and if Ratchet refuses to participate in the show, they will also explode. So as Ratchet fights his way through Dreadzone, the other two have their own missions to accomplish.


One of the biggest things in the Ratchet & Clank series has always been the weaponry that Ratchet is able to wield. Sadly, the amount of weapons that Ratchet is able to wield is fairly small compared to some of the previous installments, but the available weapons are still enjoyable. Like previous installments, Deadlocked features a variety of weapons that gain experience by defeating different enemies. Once a weapon gains enough experience, it will then gain a level and become even stronger. While many of these weapons are somewhat similar to those that were used in previous installments, the biggest change is in the concept of weapon mods.


Ratchet: Deadlocked features two different kinds of weapon mods that can be used to make your weapons even more powerful. The first is the Omega mod, which is purchased from different vendors located throughout Dreadzone. These weapons add a little extra kick to your weaponry by adding shock, acid, napalm and other forms of attacks. The second mod, known as Alpha mods, is added to your weapons by leveling up Ratchet's arsenal. Each weapon is capable of carrying ten of these Alpha mods, but not all weapons are able to use certain Alpha mods. Some examples of these mods include increased rate of fire, a larger amount of ammo or an increase in the weapons power.


Sadly, for the first time in the series, Ratchet: Deadlocked doesn't feature the option of carrying over weapons from other games. While the previous installments had the option of scanning your memory card to unlock weapons from other games, there is no option available this time around.


With the different mods and weapons available, Ratchet has quite an arsenal, but he's also been given the use of two battle bots known as Merc and Green. These bots not only have their own share of weapons, but they are also able to turn screws, launch grind cables for Ratchet to ride across, use EMPs on different enemies, and hack into different locations by using their own hacker ray. Players will also be able to purchase different upgrades for their battles bots from Al, and can also purchase different paint jobs and heads. While Merc and Green are helpful on the field, they'll fall during combat frequently. However, the two can easily be resurrected by pressing the down button on the directional pad and they will be back up and running in a matter of seconds.


Considering that some of the missions involve a whole lot of enemies getting blown up, the game does a fairly nice job of flowing smoothly. However, there are the occasional missions where I noticed the game suffered from some slow-down. While this wasn't frequent, it took place most often in missions involving a large number of enemies, and explosions.


While the past Ratchet & Clank games have had their share of platforming throughout missions, most of that has been removed this time around. This is probably because Clank, who served as Ratchet's means of flying, has been removed from the field. While there are still gadgets such as swingshot and grindboots, compared to previous installments the platforming has been severely cut down. Instead, most of the actual missions are just a few minute long combat sequences where Ratchet and his bots walk around and blast different enemies with their arsenal.


Throughout some of the missions in Dreadzone, Ratchet will be able to use a couple of different vehicles. While the vehicles add a little variety to the missions, some, including the Puma and the hoverbike, can be somewhat difficult to control.


One of the best new additions to Ratchet: Deadlocked is the option of a co-op play through. Playing through the game co-op causes a split-screen and takes away the ability of using your battle bots. However, chances are an actual human player will be somewhat more useful than the computer-controlled battle bots anyway. Also, both players are not able to wield the same weapon at once, and must use a different weapon than the other player. The co-op play still features the same story and everything, but you don't get to see all of the information concerning the battle bots and a few other things.


Similar to Up Your Arsenal, the game features a lot of replay value with the online play. There are several different types of games that players will be able to get online and play against others, including capture the flag and the ever-popular deathmatch.


As for the presentation, Ratchet: Deadlocked looks as good as any of the previous installments and may be even a little better. Everything from the characters, levels, cinematics, and explosions are all excellently done. The sound is also great, with some excellent voice acting and music. However, one thing that I found rather annoying were the loading times between switching from planet to planet. While you are able to use the start button to skip the initial launch from the planet, you are then forced to sit there and watch your ship fly through several different screens. After seeing this with every planet, it becomes a little tiresome and annoying.


Overall, Ratchet: Deadlocked is another great addition to the popular Ratchet & Clank series. While the games co-op play is an excellent addition, the decrease in weaponry, platforming and overall use of Clank seems a little odd for the series. Still, Ratchet: Deadlocked is an action-packed game that fans of the series should not ignore!


Final Grade: 86%




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