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Ratchet: Deadlocked Member Review for the PS2

Ted_Wolff By:
GENRE Action 
PLAYERS 1- 10 
DEVELOPER Insomniac 
T Contains Fantasy Violence, Mild Language

What do these ratings mean?

The Running Lombax

What else is there to do for a hero after saving the universe from impending doom thrice? I asked myself this question before tackling Insomniací¢â‚¬™s latest, Ratchet: Deadlocked, and thought perhaps Ií¢â‚¬™d take a break, eat a nice home-cooked meal and then perhaps use my ability to thwart evil by looking up Jack Thompson and finishing a little side mission. Oh, if only I were a hero. On the other hand, for Ratchet, the case is a little different.

In the fourth installation, Ratchet and company encounter peril once again, consumed by what the latest reality television programming has to offer: Gleeman Voxí¢â‚¬™s DreadZone, where heroes come to do battle and risk their lives for the enjoyment of over four trillion sentient viewers. Talk about pressure. If thatí¢â‚¬™s not enough, Ratchet must travel the gladiatorial gauntlet alone, his partner Clank being delegated to providing information. The duo many have come to love has been dismantled by Vox, or perhaps the rumors of backstage squabbling on Secret Agent Clank werení¢â‚¬™t unfounded. Regardless, Ratchet is the television star now, which provides for a tweak in gameplay from platforming to action that doesní¢â‚¬™t offer anything considerably new, but is still a joy to play. If only reality television was this entertaining.

It's a little tough to breathe in, but it looks good.The premise of Deadlocked is straightforward: Ascend the ranks of gladiators by finishing challenges on various planets, competing in tournaments and ultimately escaping with your life. To do this, Ratchet is provided with a slew of weapons, gadgets and two combat bots that handle their own gadgets and act as bodyguards. A squad-based element is thus introduced, allowing you to direct some of their actions to drop EMP, hack computers, crank nodes, etc. They handle technical details while youí¢â‚¬™re free to run and gun with the ease of fluid controls of which there are three setups for your preference. Switching weapons is a snap, halting play only for a moment. The focus is on action is clear, pulled off with refined mechanics for enjoyment.

Challenges that you must face take on various requirements. Unfortunately reflective of the reality television the game mimics, the challenges are short, not requiring any extended concentration and become monotonous. The focus is on action; thus, the challenge is simply to eliminate enemies while your combat bots crank node after node progressing along a linear level design. It is here where the franchiseí¢â‚¬™s shift in gameplay is most noticeable. Interspersed to break up the gameplay are vehicle challenges where you control a hoverbike, hovership, landstalker or puma and theyí¢â‚¬™re a welcome addition.

What's the <br />
in-flight movie?
Ratchet & Clank has always been about the weapons and Deadlocked is privy to the same fun to be had with them. The amount of weapons is less so than past games, coming in at ten, but whatí¢â‚¬™s provided offers plenty of variety when put together with weapon mods, both of which can be acquired through the Bolts currency. Furthermore, the mods supply strategy rather than melee gunning. You may choose to protect yourself with holoshields that transform enemies into barnyard animals while lobbing bombs with napalm or another route entirely. Weapons also level up like past games, as does your nanotech level that reinforces your energy and health. While the game is more action-oriented it retains the useful elements of the past that expand gameplay and make it enjoyable.

Graphics in the game retain the look and feel of previous games, not providing any real change, but still accomplishing sharp and suitable imagery. Each planet has the feel of a gauntlet, touched with the darkness and dread of DreadZone. Still, thereí¢â‚¬™s enough of a vibrant and cartoony touch that has accompanied the series to provide a spectacle of frenetic action and explosions. Just doní¢â‚¬™t spend too much time gawking, specifically toward the end where challenges feature the best hoard of creatures to assault you, providing much fodder to create such action and explosions.

The sound provides a nice accompaniment, settling in the background, allowing you to pursue carnage. With a driving feel, the music lends itself to the gladiatorial aspect of the game without becoming too much. Voice acting is on par, each character being provided with a comedic representation that doesní¢â‚¬™t get too annoying. Particularly, your bouts are followed by DreadZone show host Dallas and his partner Juanita, offering humorous commentary and news blurbs throughout the game, parodying reality shows and childrení¢â‚¬™s marketing.

Furthermore, the game is kept punchy with humorous writing that dots the landscape of DreadZone. By now, Ratchet and Clankí¢â‚¬™s personas have been fleshed out, leaving out some development, but retains formula with ironic comedy and humorous sadism over the plight of Ratchet and the state of affairs. After all, Gleeman Vox does business in child merchandising over gladiator death gauntlets. Ití¢â‚¬™s intentionally funny and manages to pull it off with little oversight.

Don't cross the <br />
beams!Clank-fanatics need not fret entirely, though. Featured in the game is a new cooperative mode, so grab a friend to assume the role of Alpha Clank and do it to it. The game can be finished alone or with a cohort during any point where you load your game. In doing so, the role of your combat bots is divvied up between your friend and you, allowing each of you to assume gadgets and guns (the latter of which must be shared). Offensive and defensive attacks may also be coordinated by working in-sync, displaying a subtle tinge of strategy. Cooperative play is not a crucial element to the game, but its novel addition is laudable and extends the gameplay.

Multiplayer features a few other improvements, retaining four player split-screen and now up to ten player online battles with new game modes. Included modes are deathmatch, king of the hill, juggernaut, capture the flag and conquestí¢â‚¬"enough to satisfy a group of friends and fevered egos for a night of fun. However, certain modes feel lacking due to the limited scope of four player battles that doní¢â‚¬™t offer as much warfare that an online match might with more players. Yet, while online play offers variety in numbers, it may well test your patience with extended waiting times, finding yourself stuck in a lobby wishing the single-player challenges were as long.

The game is short, clocking in around eight hours, but features enough options to keep you interested in replaying. The difficulty level can be changed throughout the game and after your first time through another one is unlocked. Mega versions of weapons can be purchased the second time through, as well as many other unlockables: skins, cheats, etc. Combine this with sufficient multiplayer elements and you can find enough to tide you over well beyond your first run through the game.

In terms of advancement over whatí¢â‚¬™s been done and is out there, Ratchet: Deadlocked is comparable to the first Ratchet & Clank. Nonetheless, primed more for action, the game sets its targets in sight and hits them with a weapon mod to provide a worthwhile experience of comedic mayhem that one may be looking for despite lack of novelty. The gameplay developed over the last three games has produced a refined experience suitable for fans of the series and newcomers alike to jump in and have í¢â‚¬…“more fun than a bus full of cheerleaders,í¢â‚¬? as Dallas would remark.

More information about Ratchet: Deadlocked
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