PSP → PS2 = Size Does Matter, Indeed
Ratchet and Clank get no rest! One year ago, this crazy duo became part of the PSP’s lineup with Size Matters. A few months ago, in October of 2007, they made a starry debut on the mighty PS3. Now they’re back on the system that brought them to life, the PlayStation 2, making sure all those devoted fans will get a taste of Size Matters on the bigger screen. But how well did the game translate from the PSP to the PS2? That’s the million-dollar question I’m here to answer. Read on!
In Size Matters, the big-eared Lombax and his metallic companion enjoy a nice vacation on the beach. They sleep in comfy deck chairs, drink exotic beverages, and even get massages. You can hear the seagulls and the sound of the sea waves in the background…life is good. But no, this is not The Sims 2: Bon Voyage! Ratchet and Clank are here for action, and that’s what they’ll get.
Everything starts when a little girl named Luna interrupts their peace and rest because she wants to see them in action; Ratchet decides to give her a little show by chasing and fighting a few robo-crabs. Unfortunately, the girl ends up being kidnapped, which leaves them with no choice but to go and fight for justice. The guys will find themselves involved in a mysterious and dangerous quest with many twists, and the robo-crabs will be the least of their worries.
As always, the game is packed with mean, electronic enemies of all sizes, colors, and shapes. The robots have different powers and attacks, and it’s Ratchet & Clank’s task to put them down before the threat increases. Ratchet always carries his handy Omniwrench as his main weapon. He’ll use it to hit enemies or break boxes and other objects along the way. As he fights enemies and destroys stuff, he’ll be rewarded with ammo and crazy amounts of shiny little bolts, which is the trade currency of the series. The game would be just a button-masher if the wrench is all he used. Luckily, Ratchet has a rather nice arsenal of unique weapons that make the gameplay more interesting and exciting.
You’ll start off with the Acid Bomb Glove and the Lacerator. The first one will basically melt anyone that runs through the lingering acid, and the second one is a basic but very useful blaster pistol. The more you use your weapons, the more powerful they’ll get, just like in an RPG. There are also a couple of areas in the game where you can purchase certain weapon upgrades that give you abilities like locking-on enemies or increasing the damage area. Also, as you advance through the story, you’ll pick up other very interesting weapons, gadgets, and armor upgrades, like the Concussion Gun, which is like a shotgun, the Hypershot, which allows you to grapple on to swing targets, the Sprout-o-matic, which helps you grow certain very useful plants, the Agents of Doom, which summons funny robot bodyguards, the Suck Cannon, which sucks up smaller enemies like a vacuum, or the Shrink Ray, which will shrink and grow objects for your convenience.
The armors will also grant unique powers to the weapons. If you manage to collect all the pieces that make up a specific armor, your wrench will be on fire or even ice! It’s important to always look around; there are many secret areas you might miss at first glance. If you’re a good observer, you might also find Titanium bolts, which let you obtain special things like funny suits Ratchet can wear during the game. Dressing him up like a kangaroo or a samurai warrior really adds some spark!
Clank also gets to play this time around. In Size Matters he finally gets detached from Ratchet’s back in order to enter areas Ratchet couldn’t have access to. He’ll count on the help of little Gadgebots, which operate in the same frequency as him and understand simple orders like “follow,” “attack,” “wait,” and “enter.” I really enjoyed this aspect of the game, as it involves quick thinking, reflexes, and puzzle solving, versus the usual platforming and shooting action; it’s a nice change of pace. Clank will eventually transform into Giant Clank and fly into the outer space, which reminds me of the old Star Fox adventures.
Despite the interesting and varied gameplay offered in Size Matters, which was actually praised when the game came out for the PSP, Ratchet and Clank: Size Matters can be a disappointment for PS2 owners. Unfortunately, there are quite a few glitches in the PS2 game that can make it frustrating. Most of them involve less-than-perfect control implementation, which results in poor character handling and awful camera problems.
The camera often gets stuck in the weirdest positions, making the game look amateurish and outdated. The buttons that should re-focus the camera behind Ratchet’s back don’t really work as expected. The title also contains a few mini-games, which would be nice and refreshing if they worked well. However, they’re no fun when the controls are as imprecise and frustrating as they’re on the sky-racing portions of the game, where you almost feel like you have no control over Ratchet maneuvers.
Another downside of playing Size Matters on the PS2 is the graphics. When you compare this title to previous PS2 installments, you’ll realize the visuals here are weak. Most environments and objects look blocky, and the textures seem distorted, especially when the camera gives you a close-up of an item or character. If you were to play it on a smaller TV you might not notice this as much, but if you plan to play Size Matters on a bigger-size TV, the graphics are less than acceptable, even when selecting Progressive Scan and Widescreen (16:9). This is not to say the game was poorly made; in fact, the environments actually have a good amount of detail and the characters are cool and original. The problem is that this doesn’t translate well into the big screen, just like it happened with GTA: Liberty City Stories when it made the jump from the PSP to the PS2.
The dialogue and character voices are one of the best aspects of the game. Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters still has the witty humor that characterizes the series, and the quality of the voice-over work still breaks the standards. The background music, cheery, catchy, and lighthearted, also fits the theme. The sound effects simply blend in. They don’t make you jump out of the seat, but they’re fine. Overall, the game feels like a well-made cartoon.
Just like on the PSP, the game offers a multiplayer mode. However, it is a little weak; considering there are many other great multiplayer games out there, I doubt this game will be one of your top choices. The multiplayer simply consists of two-player, split-screen competition with goals like “capture the flag,” item collecting, and other kinds of fast-paced contests. It will be fun for an evening, but it probably won’t be something you’ll repeat after you move on to the next game.
As you may know, Ratchet & Clank games aren’t known for their in-depth, wonderful stories, but the light plots are usually good enough to give some sense to the mindless but fun action the games are actually known for. However, if you pair that up with the weak gameplay and the obvious graphics and controls downgrade, you will realize this PS2 port just can’t be compared to its Ratchet & Clank PS2 predecessors or the stellar PS3 game, Tools of Destruction. If you missed Size Matters because you don’t own a PSP, here’s your chance to play the entire title and say you haven’t missed a single Ratchet & Clank game. However, make sure you keep an open mind, because this game feels like Ratchet & Clank “light.” It’s low-carb, low-fat, and sugar-free – if you know what I mean.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 3.3 Graphics
You can tell the game doesn’t belong to the PS2 but to the PSP. The graphics weren’t really enhanced to be seen on the big screen and there is lots of distracting visual glitches throughout. 3.4 Control
Combat controls are mostly fine, but certain platforming elements feel rather awkward, and the racing is not good at all. Camera problems put the finishing touch. 3.9 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The background music helps to set the mood, and the characters’ voices are genuine and funny. The tutorial voice is a bit annoying and repetitive though. Sound FX are light but fine. 3.9 Play Value
If you like the Ratchet & Clank duo and didn’t get to play Size Matters on the PSP, this should be satisfying enough. After all, it’s the same game. However, don’t expect miracles – the game was made for a tiny screen. 3.7 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.