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Developer:
High Impact Games
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America
Platform: PSP
Release Date: February 13, 2007

by Josh Ferguson




In the past, one of Sony’s more popular games for the PlayStation 2 has been the Ratchet & Clank series from Insomniac Games. However, the latest title in the series, Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters, moves away from the PS2 and on to the PSP. Also, rather than being developed by Insomniac Games, a relatively new developer named High Impact Games has taken over development. So will these changes have a positive or negative effect on the game? Read on to find out.


The storyline in the game follows the events of Ratchet: Deadlocked as the lombax and his little robot pal are on a much-needed vacation. However, their vacation falls a little short when the two witness a young girl abducted by a group of robots. Being the heroes that they are, Ratchet and Clank team up to save the girl and go on another adventure.


Fans of the Ratchet & Clank series may worry that this installment won't stay completely faithful to the series, but if that’s the case, I assure you that there's nothing to worry about. The game has definitely gone back to the series' roots, and returned with many of the platforming elements that were nonexistent in the previous installment, Ratchet: Deadlocked. Ratchet and Clank are able to perform many of their usual moves, including a boost jump and a stretch jump, which consist of normal jumps that use Clank's propellers to increase the length of the jump. The platforming has always been one of the more popular elements of the series, so if you are a fan of those elements, then you shouldn’t have any problems.


When it comes to the Ratchet & Clank series and other platformers, one thing that is very important is a decent camera. Without a decent camera, the entire gaming experience can be completely ruined. Throughout the Ratchet & Clank series, the camera has been pretty good, but these games were all on the PlayStation 2, which has dual analog sticks. For the PSP, a system with only one analog stick, Size Matters does have a pretty good camera. Players can rotate the camera in the game by using the shoulder buttons, which has been an effective way of controlling the camera on the PSP. While it might be a little bit more difficult to locate enemies and see where enemy fire is coming from, all in all, the camera in Size Matters shouldn’t lead to much frustration.


Anyone familiar with the Ratchet & Clank series also is aware that one of the main focuses of the series is the weaponry. Size Matters features some similar weapons to things we’ve seen in the series, including acid bombs, sniper rifles, rocket launcher, a shotgun-type weapon, and something that can turn your enemies into cows. As it has been with the series, each of your weapons gains experience with use, and once you obtain enough experience, your weapon will upgrade and become stronger. Players can also purchase different types of modifications for their weapons, which can make them far more effective.


Aside from weapons, Ratchet is also able to obtain several different types of armor that will not only reduce damage dealt to him, but also give him certain types of bonuses. For example, each armor type has a helmet, a glove, boots, and body armor. While it is possible to wear completely different armor sets together, each armor set won’t really shine until you have obtained each piece. My personal favorite was the wildfire armor set, which causes Ratchet to be engulfed in flames and dish out fire damage when he strikes an enemy target. While it isn’t the strongest armor set, whenever Ratchet walks around, you can see his feet make scorch marks on the ground, which I thought was pretty cool. Obtaining all of these armor sets is going to take a little bit of work because some can be quite difficult to find. Some of them will be found by merely searching through levels, while some of them are obtained by completing several different mini-games.


If you are one of those gamers who were deeply depressed by the fact that Clank was somewhat of a side character in Ratchet: Deadlocked, then fear not, Clank has returned! Throughout many of the game's missions, players will have to take on the role of Clank. Some of these missions include taking flight through space and battling a large amount of enemy ships, while others include taking control of Gadgebots.


While completing Size Matters probably wouldn’t take any more than 10 hours, the game still features quite a bit to keep any gamer occupied. For example, players can go head to head with other owners of the game for replay value and added excitement. Aside from multiplayer action, the game has several alternate skins that you can unlock and a large amount of mini-games, including racing on flying skateboards, missions where Clank does battle in something similar to Robot Wars, and others that are very similar to the game Lemmings. There are a large number of these mini-games which will definitely keep players busy for a while. The game also has the different armor sets, hidden skill points, and titanium bolts that can be obtained.


Graphically, Size Matters is a pretty close comparison to the PlayStation 2 Ratchet & Clank titles, which really is saying a lot. Like previous installments in the series, Size Matters features several different environments that you will travel through that are not only large but also quite impressive looking. Of course, being a Ratchet & Clank title, one would assume that there would be a lot of explosions, and yeah, you would assume correctly. One may also assume that these large-scaled environments and all the explosions from your guns may cause a bit of slowdown, but that is where you would be wrong. Size Matters does an excellent job of maintaining a smooth frame rate throughout, and rarely will you encounter any type of slowdown. Also, the game features cutscenes that are comparable to the PS2 versions, which look nice and usually start right up without any load times at all. While they look nice, and the lack of load time is always a plus, sadly, during these cutscenes Ratchet won’t be wearing the armor that he is actually wearing during gameplay. This really isn’t a big deal, but it does seem kind of funny when one second he’s wearing armor and the next it’s gone. The game also features some great-looking character models, but if you have played a Ratchet & Clank installment before, you already know this.


The sound throughout the game is also one area that is quite impressive. The voice acting in the game is near perfect, with the series' usual voices returning as Ratchet & Clank. As for the sound effects, many of them are basically the same as previous installments in the series, and most of which get the job done. While the sound department is generally good, the biggest issue would be that occasionally the music will get stuck for a few seconds and completely stop playing. The music issue happens occasionally while traveling around the game and sometimes when you are searching through menus or just starting the game up after putting the PSP in sleep mode. Still, even with this sound issue, Size Matters features some great sound.


All in all, Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters is not only a game that fans of the series will enjoy, it's also a game that any PSP owner unfamiliar with the series should pick up. While there are a few minor issues, such as some camera trouble and bugs with the sound, the high points far outweigh the problems, making Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters a must-have for PSP owners!


Final Grade: 90%




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