Voice Module








In Memory
Sean Pettibone


Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters

(Sony for PSP)

Sony's popular shooting and platforming duo have arrived on the PSP with the release of Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters. The game brings a familiar look and feel to the action with similar play controls, visuals and level designs to its console editions. As you'd expect, there are tons of cool weapons and gadgets, engaging mini-games and challenging boss battles along your journey. While the earlier levels are fairly easy, the game becomes more difficult as you go along which can be frustrating. Long load times and a somewhat linear play are evident, but these problems aren't enough to detract from what is an otherwise solidly entertaining title.

Set after the events in last year's Deadlocked, Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters finds 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. During the game, you can switch between the weapons easily at your configuration screen and select which button they'll be assigned to.

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. Most of this translates nicely onto the PSP with movement assigned to either the d-pad or analog nub. Shooting and jumping are done using the PSP's face buttons and holding down one of them makes your weapon management screen appear. Players can also assign a strafing function to the analog pad if they want. 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.

From a gameplay standpoint, Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters follows the basic structure and flow of the other games in the series and should be immediately familiar to veterans of the series. 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 many PSP titles to date have tried to mimic the scope and depth of their console editions, Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters succeeds in bringing the look and feel of its earlier titles to the handheld platform. As you might expect, there are some minor compromises made but the game still offers vast worlds to explore, though not quite as large or expansive as some of the earlier games offered. There are tons of weapons making for an impressive and inventive arsenal to pick from. Most importantly, Size Matters offers the intuitive controls and challenging gameplay you've come to expect. The game's levels are a bit too linear and some of the camera movements are a bit spotty. Size Matters' stages also run the gamut from being to simplistic to overly difficult, but the game generally unfolds 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. While there are certain elements in the game's execution that don't feel quite as smooth as they should, Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters does an excellent job in transferring the console experience to the PSP.   


- Michael Palisano

> Related Reviews

Every Extend Extra (Q? Entertainment for Sony PSP)
Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops (Konami for PSP)

Lumines II (Buena Vista/Q? Entertainment for PSP)

< Back to Main Page