Ratchet and Clank: Size Matters (PSP) – Review

Size Matters Cover“Ratchet and Clank: Size Matters” is the 5th game in the popular shooter/platformer series, though while the previous entries were created by Insomniac Games, this installment comes from High Impact Games, which does include a number of former Insomniac people, and is also the first to appear on the Playstation Portable. While the game has every element of a Ratchet and Clank game, there’s just something out-of-place with it due to how the elements are combined that make this title definitely lacking from it’s previous namesakes.

Story: A-

The story starts with Ratchet and Clank getting some much needed vacation time when a young girl, Luna, recognizes them as the galaxy-saving heroes that they are and wants to research them for a school paper. However, in the midst of showing off their movies, Luna is captured by some robots, though leaving behind a piece of strange technology that Clank identifies as an artifact of the Technomite race, once thought to be fictional, diminutive but great inventors. Ratchet and Clank follow the trail of Luna’s captors, though soon find there’s a much more sinister plan at work that threats the galaxy again.

Gameplay: B-

As with the other R&C games, Size Matters is a combination of standard platforming elements with a number of exotic weapons (13) and gadgets (8) that the player earns through the game. The gameplay is closest to “Up Your Arsenal” in that weapons can be improved through repeated kills to become move powerful versions (albeit on a much smaller experience scale), and you can also improve Ratchet’s health through defeating foes. The game includes many of the usual mini-games, including sky-board racing, robot demolition derbies, giant Clank battles, grind-rail courses for the purposes of unlocking doors, and also a mini-game that feels like a scaled down version of Lemmings. As you meet goals of each planet, you gain the location of another planet which continues the plot and more worlds to explore. You can also collect bolts, Titanium bolts, and skill points through the game.

Size Matters - ScreenshotThe newest aspect of the game is the armor. Throughout the worlds are numerous parts of armor sets (helmet, gloves, body, and boots) that you can find. You can mix and match the parts of armor that you’ve collected as to alter your defensive bonus, but if you wear all the pieces of a specific suit, you gain additional powers. For example, one suit adds flame attacks to your wrench, while another suit will cause your wrench strike to act like an explosion should the suit take any damage. Some suit pieces are found by completing parts of the normal missions, but others are prizes in the additional mini-game events.

Besides the usual gadgets, like the swingshot, there’s also two new gadgets. One shoots a spray of water that can attract certain plants, which you can then lead to special planting grounds where the plant will then morph into a common platforming element such as a ladder, a platform or an explosive fruit that you can blow away walls with. Another one reverses the polarity of some magnetic fields which can be used to push some objects around or activate other objects. There’s also a shrink ray, which really isn’t used by yourself directly, but is used to access the grind rail locks and certain parts of some worlds.

That said, while this game follows the standard R&C checklist of what needs to be included, all these elements just don’t mesh very well, make the game rather disappointing.

  • Weapons: While you have a good set of weapons here, there’s a lot of repeat entries. For example, both the Suck Cannon and the Agents of Doom are back, and the RYNO becomes available on the challenge mode. Then you have weapons that feel like ones that have been done before: the Mootator mutates creates into cows, similar to the Sheepinator and other such weapons, and there’s also a shield that can protect you as well as dole out damage to foes. Of the other weapons, they really all feel like standard shooter weapons: while not explicitly called as such, you have your machine gun, shotgun, rocket launcher, flame thrower, sniper rifle, and grenade thrower. This basically leaves 2 ‘unique’ weapons, one that launches a hive of killer bees that attack nearby foes for a time, and a powerful constant laser weapon. Because of this poor emphasis on the exotic weapons that the other games had, I feel a bit let down, expected more out of these. Even as you power up these weapons, they just get more powerful but don’t visually create some of the more interesting effects that the other games had.
  • Level design: These levels are small, really small, compared to the PS2 brethren. Most worlds only have one or two ‘goals’ to them, unlike the PS2 games where there are 3 to 6 missions on some planets. Even with the fewer missions, the number of sections to complete each mission feels small, and numerous continue points with Gadgetron vendors in close proximity make most of the game a breeze to complete. While the visual and platforming elements are each pretty good, it just doesn’t feel like R&C levels I’ve come to know.
  • Bosses: I noted that most of the game is easy to complete. However, there are at least two bosses that seem to be prone to one specific weapon (which one, you have to guess on that), with that weapon in it’s most powerful form; either that, or you’d have to be an expert evader which is rather difficult due to the PSP controls (that is, there are limitations that the PSP controls impose that wouldn’t be an issue with the PS2 controller). I actually had to level grind to get these weapons up to par as well as getting extra armor from the mini-games and building up additional Nanotech levels before I could defeat those bosses. I never remembering this being an issue with any previous R&C boss – usually all weapons would work, a few better than others, but if you had progressed to the game to that point without being sidetracked, the boss would be hard but not impossible. There’s also one boss that requires you to go through 3 mini-stages prior to facing the boss, with death having you end up back prior to those stages, meaning you’d had to run through them again.
  • Overall Plot: While the game uses the concept of planets as with the previous R&C games, there’s several times where you’re not given the option of going off to the new planet or playing a previous one; the mission continues into a new mission as part of the overall plot of the game. This, along with the few number of missions, makes the game feel a lot more linear than the previous titles.
  • Sky Boarding: Of all the mini-games, the skyboarding one is by far the most difficult one to get use to the controls. It just is so badly implemented: you can jump, use a rocket to boost speed or maintain your height if in a jump. However, the camera around turns doesn’t keep up well, and if you run into something while trying to go around these, you’ll crash and start back a few clicks. Some of these collisions seem unavoidable as a result. There’s also a course that has bottomless pits, and it’s quite easy to fall down into these. Fortunately, you only need to complete two of these to complete the game, and the computer opponents are not difficult to beat once you get the courses down, but some of the better suit pieces are part of the rewards for the tougher races and can be difficult to get.

Add in the fact that the PSP controls, or moreso the lack of additional buttons usually found on the PS2 controllers, doesn’t help the game much. While movement can be mapped to the d-pad instead of the analog nubs, there’s still issues with lacking double shoulder buttons which can make for doing some of the larger jumps more difficult, that going to first person mode for some weapons requires hitting Select, which isn’t a readily handy button to reach for and hit without looking, and just that it can be difficult to swing back and fire upon enemies that are chasing you without taking damage. A couple boss battles also are somewhat tougher because of the limited movement and camera control.
Sure, some of the individual R&C games may have one of these elements, but to see all of these in a single game really makes it obvious that these elements just aren’t meshing as well as they have done in the other games, and that really hurts the overall feel of the game.

 Value/Replayability: B

Added to this is the shortness of the game: you can get through the basic plot and get to challenge mode within about 5-6 hrs, even with spending some time in “level grinding”. The number of worlds is rather small, and thus makes even this time seem much shorter. While challenge mode increases the difficulty, adds new versions of the existing weapons at a rather hefty cost and new armors sets, and offers bonuses for getting all the Titanium bolts and skill points, but again, with the limited number of planets, this mode feels like not much more than the main mode and desperately lacking.

However, the game does have the ability to play with up to 3 others via the PSP Internet connectivity, similar to the gameplay in Up Your Arsenal. Besides the usual Capture the Flag and Deathmatch (man and team) modes, there’s also a “Iron Lombax” mode that features 4 different types of objective based gameplay depending on which of 4 environments you play on.

Graphics: A-

Sound: A-

The graphics are pretty much as good as the PS2 R&C games, with a bit of simplification to make them run smoothly on the PSP. Only after massive explosions where there are several bits flying about does the game get a hiccup, but this isn’t unexpected. There’s a bit of jarring difference between the CGI cutscenes and the game, as, since Ratchet is usually decked out in a suit in the game, the CGI rendering of him in one outfit is very obvious. Loading times aren’t bad for the game, and at least have animated graphics to pass the time away. Sounds are fine, with good accompanying music in the flavor of the other games and the usual sound effects borrowed for here. The voice acting is pretty good, using the same actors for the title characters with others providing a good job for their roles.

Overall: B 

I was somewhat excited to have another Ratchet and Clank game, and knowing how well Daxter bought the Jak series to the PSP, I figured that there was a lot of promise for this one. While all the elements of R&C are in Size Matters, the game unfortunately doesn’t come together and is a lot less enjoyable than it’s predecessors. It’s still (sadly) a good game for the PSP compared to what’s out there, but the series has seen much better in its PS2 days.

3 Responses

  1. i need help on dream yime i cant get on the amberela

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