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In Memory
Sean Pettibone


Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters (PS2)

As a conversion from a PSP title, players probably won't expect a lot from the Playstation 2 version of Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters. Overlooking this game would be a mistake, since it offers the same solidly entertaining and challenging platform action, shooting and strategy that have made previous games in the series so popular with gamers. After their long-awaited vacation has been rudely interrupted, the heroic duo once again on a quest to save the universe from a deadly array of foes. Along the way, you'll encounter piles of enemies and foes. As in the previous games, you'll find an array of interesting weapons and gadgets to use. Many of these should be familiar to fans of the earlier games, with some old favorites like the Shocker, used to electrocute nearby foes returning. One of the coolest weapons are the agents of doom. These mini-robots can be deployed and detonated at your command and used to explore and explode dangerous areas of the game. You'll spend the majority of your time playing as Ratchet and when you're playing him, you'll find some familiar mechanics in play. You have your trusty wrench at your side at all times and this is useful in close combat. When you defeat an enemy they release bolts that you can use at the stores scattered throughout the levels to purchase additional ammo and weapons. However, in a unique twist, you can also play as his robot companion Clank in certain sections of the game, which allows for some unique play mechanics to ensue. This approach definitely helps to keep R&C: Size Matters from feeling stale, though it doesn't stray too far from the already successful formula, with an excellent mix of strategy and action that makes playing it a real joy.

As you play the game, you can also adjust the camera angle by pressing the shift buttons, which can be quite useful when you're on a moving object and you face opponents coming at you from different angles. As you battle, your main character will take on damage, which can be repaired by collecting blue energy orbs you find throughout the game. As you defeat different levels and missions, you can enter your starship and fly to different planets. There is some load time here, but it's the only kind you'll face. Once you land on a planet and get into the heat of the battle, the levels stream seamlessly which allows the game to flow without any breaks in the action. From a control standpoint, the games on console have always done an excellent job of balancing the 3D platforming and shooting action elements the series has been famous for. Aside from this, you can use the shift keys to spin the camera around and switch into a first person mode for targeting specific objects. This system is fairly intuitive and makes good use of the console's buttons to create and effective, easy to use interface. The game controls quite smoothly, and the remapped controls have made an excellent transition from the PSP to the dual shock, making for a seamless experience between the two titles. This familiarity means that players familiar with the earlier Ratchet & Clank titles should be able to jump right into the new game with little effort.

From a gameplay standpoint, Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters follows the constructs of the PSP version faithfully and plays almost identically to its handheld predecessor. The levels progress in a fairly straightforward manner and don't really diverge if you have to go and replay them when you lose your energy. The game does change some of the power-ups and weapons crates you encounter, but there really isn't much variety in the way the enemies attack or in their numbers. This makes some portions of the game easier to beat than others. Even the bosses don't really change their attack patterns, which makes defeating them an exercise in persistence and memorization more than it relies on the player's skill. The single player game is broken up with a series of moderately entertaining mini-games and sub-missions which are enjoyable enough, but don't offer the depth or challenge of the main game. Players who don't want to play through the entire game solo can also choose to play online via the PSP's wi-fi connections and battle it out with up to four other players online. These arena modes are quite entertaining as well and do an excellent job of showcasing the variety and number of weapons available to the player. The game also succeeds from a from a visual standpoint. R&C: Size Matters features the same highly polished production values players have come to expect. You can see the attention to detail in the high-quality animation and movement of the characters. Everything from the enemy characters to the in-game cut-scenes fits together coherently to create an excellent game that offers a variety of terrain to explore. As you reach different planets, you'll face everything from high-tech cities, to jungle areas and even beaches. Each planet also brings with it a unique set of enemies and obstacles to face. You can see some similarities between the worlds after awhile, but the ability to switch between the two main characters helps to keep things fresh.

While there have been several high-profile PSP titles to date have tried to mimic the scope and depth of their console editions, Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters is one of the better titles. Superior textures and improved lighting effects are evident, and this conversion to the PS2 has made its high-quality all the more apparent. The new multiplayer split screen modes are loads of fun and add high replay value to the game. Most importantly, Size Matters' remapped controls and challenging gameplay you've come to expect from the series. Its stages run the gamut from being to simplistic to overly difficult, but things generally unfold at a good pace with excellent mini-games to break up the action. The game's cinematic sequences are also well-done and there are plenty of surprises along the way. In the end, this is a successful transplant of the popular platforming series that fans won't want to miss. Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters does an excellent job in converting the already excellent PSP game to Playstation 2 without missing a beat. - Michael Palisano

Grade: B+

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