PS2 REVIEW: RATCHET: DEADLOCKED

One of the first questions I'm sure you have concerning Ratchet: Deadlocked is, "Where is Clank?" He's the diminutive robotic, wise-ass buddy that accompanies Ratchet's adventures while strapped to his back. He's in this game but only makes brief appearances since he's kidnapped and not able to assist. Ratchet is also kidnapped but is given the chance to fight for his freedom as he stars in the reality TV series entitled DreadZone. It's must-see-TV at it finest.

Ratchet and Clank, as a series, are untouchable. From the gameplay to the presentation the series is a unanimous favorite, having made many reviews top pick of the year. Deadlocked continues the trend but it has evolved to the point where there in not much platforming or puzzles, elements that were the main component of the original. I like a company that evolves their product and doesn't just force-feed us re-warmed rehash. This is a full-blown action game with lots of shooting and lots of enemies to kill. It's like a cartoon version of Dynasty Warriors, only with way-huge weapons and outerspace locations.

Since Clank is absent, the weapon selection is limited. There aren't as many gadgets but since the puzzles and platforming have been diminished you won't really need them. Weapons such as the Magma Cannon and Dual Vipers are back as well as a variation of the Plasma Whip. No problem there. There are some new blasters but not a lot of them. You can upgrade both the primary and secondary components of each weapon to make them more powerful and flexible. It's not uncommon to encounter hundreds of enemies in a few short minutes. Don't forget that Ratchet's namesake weapon, a giant wrench, is also in the offering.

Not all of the available weaponry can handle such large numbers of enemies so to assist you with your quest you will be accompanied by a pair of robotic bodyguards which can perform a variety of duties, both offensive and defensive. You can hide behind them like a shield or you can get them to launch grenades or open fire on crowds using their various weapons systems. You can also upgrade their weapons and armor as well.

Vehicles such as the hoverbike and the spaceship are back and are used to race around the galaxy or as mobile projectile and plasma dispensers. There is also an ATV that makes short work of the planet's terrain, allowing you to reach specific areas quickly and somewhat more safely. The vehicles are very forgiving and fun to use. They break up the gameplay nicely, not that it gets monotonous but the linear nature of the missions limits your freedom.

Missions are created to be completed. As soon as you complete a mission, you're booted back to the main interface to choose another mission. You don't go looking for them and they don't come looking for you. Instead of the story feeling organic and naturally occurring, the game never lets you forget that you're playing a game.

Online play is loaded with options. Whereas the single-player game may be a little on the predictable side, you can find online games tailored to your exacting playing styles. Servers offer various customizing features such as ammunition limit, respawn rules and general difficulty. Modes include Capture the Flag, Deathmatch, King of the Hill and Conquest, which is basically the same as last year's Siege mode. Juggernaut is a new mode in which one player is equipped with ridiculous powers while the other players try to take him down. There is also an offline co-op mode. There's no doubt that if you like this game you'll be getting your money's worth.

Aside from some new locations and enemies the graphics haven't changed much. But who the hell cares, they were excellent to begin with. They are crisp, colorful and incredibly detailed with an excellent degree of depth perception in the backgrounds. There is some slowdown and it's really noticeable, but like the numerous and annoying load times, it doesn't last long. The characters are brought to life with nearly flawless animation, including expressive faces, and great voiceacting that gives them distinct and mostly humorous personalities. It's easy to fall in love with the Ratchet and Clank universe.

Deadlocked features lots of replay value, plenty of unlockables, widescreen support and progressive scan. It's technically impressive but more than anything it's a lot of fun. If every game I had to review was this good, I wouldn't hate my job so much. Did I just say that?

Preview by Sohail

Ratchet: Deadlocked, the newest chapter in the Ratchet & Clank series will focus around the multiplayer mode 1st introduced in Ratchet & Clank Up You Arsenal. The game will feature 2 modes. Single player story mode and the multiplayer mode.

The story begins with Ratchet & Clank finding out that many heroes have recently disappeared and one of them Captain Starshield is dead. It appears that he was killed while he was contending in a secretive fighting tournament known as Dreadzone, which is owned by Gleeman Vox. Gleeman Vox is the owner of an underground media empire in Shadow Sector, an anarchic area of space at the border of the universe. Ratchet’s ship is taken over by a group of robot thugs and Ratchet & Clank are taken into custody by order of Vox. Because Rachet is also a kind of hero Vox wants him to compete in Dreadzone to improve ratings and sell merchandise. Fitted with a deadlock collar both Ratchet & Clank don’t have much of a choice since the collar is programmed to deliver a powerful shock if the wearer goes into forbidden areas and even detonate if the combatant becomes stubborn or boring.

After wearing a metallic battle suit you are sent off to your first mission, which is essentially a tutorial to help you familiarize with the controls. After completion of the tutorial you will head to Dreadzone Station, which is basically your base. During live combat missions 2 battle drones will provide firepower and support. These drones will be assigned to you in Dreadzone Station.

Clank unfortunately won’t be fighting alongside you this time though he will act as the mission engineer providing you with useful information and monitoring your progress throughout the missions.

Completing missions will earn you medals and dread points. Collect enough of these and new planets will be unlocked. Each planet will offer different missions, challenges and enemies. The 1st planet you will fight on will be Catacrom IV, which is a holy burial ground of robots. This planet is filled with zombie robots that come out of the ground to attack you and just like zombies of the Resident Evil series they’ll keep attacking you even after they are torn apart. Nice!

The 1st mission is quite simple requiring you to get from one point to another, but as you progress missions will get complicated and tougher. Later on in the game the missions will have you racing hoverbikes, capturing control points, destroying key targets, clearing areas of enemies, or activating switches to open pathways. No two missions in the game are similar in nature and the way they are strung together keeps the action fresh. Missions in the game aren’t very long usually lasting a few minutes each and every planet has more than half-dozen missions. Many of the missions are optional, but they are quite entertaining plus the more missions you finish the more bolts you earn.

Bolts in the game will be used to purchase upgrades for your bots and your weapons. For your bots you will be able to change their color and their heads. Besides customizing your bots you will be able to buy weapons, ammo and weapon modifications from vendor stations while in the combat zone. 2 types of mods are present in the game; the alpha and the omega, which will provide different modifiers for your weapons.

Omega mods, which can be purchased, will add special attributes to your ammo. For example, napalm will charge your explosive rounds with lava, an acid mod that will apply a corrosive chemical mixture to your ammo, ice that will freeze enemies and electricity that will shock an enemy and then shock other nearby enemies through a chain attack. You will acquire alpha mods by using weapons and earning experience. These mods will affect weapon stats such as firing speed, knockback and ammo capacity. You will be able to switch out your mods any time you want.

In Ratchet: Deadlocked the combat will be a lot like an arena-style first person shooter. In the game you will have the option to fight in either a first person camera view with controls also like a first person game or a third person camera mode for a more classic Ratchet & Clank style gameplay. In the game you will control Ratchet’s movement entirely with the left analog stick and the camera with the right analog stick. You won’t be able reassign the buttons as you like but the default controls work very well. You will hardly need the face buttons because you can do almost everything in the game using only the analog sticks and shoulder buttons. Plus you will be able to switch between your recently used weapons by double tapping R2 or the triangle button.

Usually, your bots will hover close to you and shoot at any nearby enemies but you will be able to give your bots orders by using the D pad. You can tap down on the D pad to order them to regroup, in case you want to defend from an attack plus if a bot dies during battle, you can order the bot to revive itself by press down on the D pad too. Besides that bots can hack computers to gain entry into restricted areas. Plus they can toss out EMT charges to disable enemy shields and electric fields. Also they can generate grind beams to allow you to move across large gaps between platforms.

Like the previous games in the series the wrench will be your melee weapon. Though the wrench won’t be quite effective against hordes of enemies. The wrench will also be used for activating certain switches or screwing in some bolt so a door or bridge can be activated.

Ratchet: Deadlocked will also feature vehicles. There will be 4 vehicles in the game. The Puma is a fast and heavily armed all-terrain vehicle for one person that has machine guns and a high-powered cannon. The Land Stalker, which seats two people, is a spider like mech that has a machine gun and the ability to fire mortar rounds. The Hoverbike is a light but quick bike that is equipped with forward-facing machine guns, but is really built for racing, rather than combat. Finally you will also get to drive a Hovership though not much is yet known about this vehicle.

Although the main focus of the game will be combat there will still be plenty of platforming. Platform challenges will include rail grinding plus using your fire whip to swing between platforms from time to time. Enemies will come in all shapes and sizes like the previously mentioned zombie robots to tiny jumping aliens and huge scorpions etc. Besides the regular enemies there will also be boss battles in the game.

Two weapons that I know will be in the game are the Obliterator, which is the grenade launcher of the game, and the Magma Cannon which is the equivalent of the shotgun.

Ratchet: Deadlocked looks pretty nice and runs smoothly even when there are lots of enemies and explosions on screen. The levels look good and stay true to their respective varied themes. You will be fighting enemies high above a city, on the remains of an ancient battleground, in an indoor battle arena and in a swamp among many others. The levels will also be full of destructible items. The explosions and other special effects add a fine visual flare to the battles, making the action more thrilling.

The sound of the game though still incomplete will be exactly what you have come to expect from the Ratchet & Clank series when it is completed.

You will be able to play the story missions alone or with a friend in co-op mode. You can also choose not play the missions entirely and just destroy your friends and enemies online. The multiplayer game will be as much fun and feature-packed as the single player game because they both are pretty much the same. All the single-player levels will also available for multiplayer.

In the end, while the game surely is a departure from its platforming roots it seems like Ratchet: Deadlocked will live up to its predecessors and expectations of the fans when it ships.

Features:

  • Ratchet: Deadlocked features co-op gameplay both throughout single-player and multiplayer story mode.
  • Squad-based gameplay allows players to demolish the competition by commandeering their allied bots through critical and strategic battles. Each allied bot will have its own distinct personality, and a customization feature allows players to change body parts and textures.
  • A new weapons system provides players the ability to choose the way their weapon powers up (effects capabilities and functionality), allowing for thousands of mod combinations.
  • The game features non-linear gameplay, allowing players to not have to complete levels in chronological order to achieve success.
  • Featuring a new mission-structure approach, players will be rewarded with a constant progression of items such as weapons, armor and health.
  • With much of the combat taking place in battlefields and arenas, gameplay will be more tournament sports-oriented.
  • All single-player levels will also be available to players for the multiplayer game.
System: PS2
Dev: Insomniac
Pub: Sony
Release: Oct 2005
Players: 1 - 8
Review by Cole
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
4.5
GRAPHICS
4.0
CONTROL
4.5
MUSIC/FX
4.5
VALUE
5.0