Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters

Content review for this game:
Pertaining to the ESRB rating and My age rating.

Gameplay sum up: The basic formula in every Ratchet & Clank game is: land on a planet, destroy enemies in your way, get to the other end of that planet, watch a cutscene, find out what planet to go to next, and repeat. During these missions you'll mostly be shooting and hitting things, but you'll also be jumping and/or hovering (with the help of Clank) from platform to platform, collecting bolts (currency), grinding on rails, walking on magnetized walls, swimming, hoverboarding, and many other things during the course of the game.

Every level has dozens of breakable crates scattered throughout; filled with bolts, health, and ammo. Enemies also shed bolts when you destroy them, and act as the game's currency for buying and upgrading all of your weapons. All levels have more than one weapon kiosk, which is used to buy new weapons, ammo and upgrade your weapons with new attributes like adding electricity to your rounds, or burning acid to your ammo. Weapons level up automatically (and gradually) the more you use them, resulting in increased fire power and new abilities. And unlike most games in the series, you can't upgrade your armor in a shop. Instead, you will have to find single pieces (as in helmets, boots, etc.) as you progress the game.

The majority of the platforming will be done using Clank. He sits on Ratchet's back like a backpack, and (by the third level) is equipped with a built-in, mini helicopter that comes from his head, which is used to hover over small gaps, and jump extra high to reach normally unreachable platforms. To traverse larger gaps, Ratchet will use the Swingshot, which will grab onto certain hooks in the sky, and swing him to the other end. Other than using it as a weapon, Ratchet will use his wrench to open certain doors, by grabbing onto unscrewed bolts and turning them until the closed door opens.

Sometimes Ratchet will have to use certain devices to get through an area; a good example is the Sprout-O-Matic, which is acquired early in the game. This device sprays a special serum out of a watering can, and is used to sprinkle on certain flowers in many of the levels. When you do this, the flower springs to life and will follow you to specific patches of dirt. It will then plant itself in this dirt, and then either grow itself into a ladder, a launch platform (for you to reach a far away area), or a bomb, which you can then hit with your wrench and destroy walls blocking your way.

A few key moments in the game put you in the shoes of Clank. Clank can enter smaller places than Ratchet, and activate devices to further progress certain levels. Although Clank isn't equipped with guns, he can hit things with his fists and control groups of fellow robots. Clank will use these robots to traverse the area by giving them commands like Attack, Follow, Wait—and he'll also have to have a certain amount of them to unlock doors and progress to the end. There are also a few areas with Clank in giant form, where he flies and fights through space. These levels are on tracks, and have you constantly dodge and shoot the enemy, while trying to collect bolts and escape the area. In addition to these, Clank will fight a few of the bosses in his giant form.

There are two planet that gives you access to the arena. The arena is a place where you can compete in multiple matches, which pit you against dozens of opponents, with a variety of obstacles and objectives. After you complete an event, you'll earn a set amount of bolts, armor, and Titanium bolts (to unlock secrets). However, this time, instead of playing as Ratchet, you compete as Clank in three specific types of games. The first puts Clank in a vehicle, with the objective being to destroy your opponent's vehicle. The second is where Clank is made to pick up a ball, and throw it into the goal before his opponent can take it from him and do the same. And the last is like Lemmings, where you have to direct a group of robots to safety through obstacle courses.

Last of all, there are a few (non-optional) areas in the game where you compete in Skyboard races as Ratchet. These portions consist of racing around a track with other Skyboarders, as you try to make it in first place. Although they're pretty challenging (and can get a bit frustrating at first), they're pretty easy to complete once you've memorized the tracks.

Animated blood: A crab enemy contained in the first level explodes into a moderate amount of green goo when you destroy them. The goo disappears in under a minute, and all enemy bodies disappear in a few seconds. Beyond this, there are only colorful firework-like particle effects when you hit or shoot an enemy.

Fantasy violence: (This is set between 1 and 2 of this series) After defeating Drek (main villain in first game), and saving the galaxy, Ratchet and Clank are in need of a little vacation. While they lounge on the beach, a little girl named Luna approaches Ratchet, and asks if she can get input from him, as she's writing a school reports on heroes, specifically Ratchet. After he agrees, Luna is soon captured by a forgotten race of beings known as the Technomites. These Technomites were thought to be a myth; parents told children they were responisble for making all the technology in the galaxy. It turns out they're real, and they're angry that people haven't been giving them credit for all their work. Time to save Luna, and stop the Technomites...

The story itself is full of silly and clever humor. For example: While speaking to Luna, Clank notices Qwark spying on them at a distance. Clank approaches Qwark and asks, "Qwark?!" Qwark replies, "Clank! What a coincidence! What are you doing here?!" Clank replies, "I am trailing Ratchet and Clank, to see what they are doing, so I can join them on their next adventure." Qwark replies, "Hey! That's what I'm doing!" So, compared to the others in this series, the story's tone is far less sarcastic, and leans more towards silly, making it (in this respect) the most kid friendly of the bunch.

The violence is very fantastical, with mass explosions, crashes, constant fire from the enemy, utter mayhem and frantic chaos. And although you will fight a variety of wild creatures, the majority of your enemy consists of several different types of robots. Ratchet will be fighting them with a couple of dozen (fully upgradeable) weapons. The majority of them have exaggerated and ridiculous fire-power, like a flamethrower, a rocket launcher, a gun that sucks in enemies like a vacuum, and even a gun that turns enemies into cows. Ratchet can also attack enemies with his wrench. When Ratchet disposes of an enemy, it will explode into a cloud of bolts (currency), metal (if it's a robot), colorful firework-like particle effects, and/or puffs of smoke. Beyond this, the overall tone of violence is mild, the cutscenes' action is comparable to Looney Toon's over-the-top antics, and the actual gameplay is no worse (in fact, maybe more mild) than the sometimes chaotic and moderately violent cartoons kids watch today.

Content review posted: 03/2008

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