It was only three years ago that Sony gave us the original Ratchet and Clank. Simple as it was, it provided the framework for what would become a fantastic series. Since November of 2002, Ratchet has Gone Commando and went Up Your Arsenal as the series evolved with the times. Now, the 4th entry into the series has shown up with the subtitle of "Deadlocked." Luckily for us, sexual innuendo is about the only place where the Ratchet series took a step back.
Having saved the universe three times over, it seems as if no villian can possibly stand up to Ratchet and Clank. However, there is always somebody trying. At the beginning of the game, Ratchet, Clank, and Al are kidnapped by some thugs no less than a few seconds after being warned that various heroes across the galaxy have been disappearing lately. The Perpetrator of this turns out to be Vox Gleeman. Vox runs a underground media empire known as Dreadzone, and kidnaps heroes to force them to fight on national TV for the amusement of billions of fans. So, you must fight your way up in the ranks, beating challenges on the way to the top, and try to find some way to break out on the way. A light plot filled with humor that we've come to expect from the series. So far so good.
But as any gamer can tell you, a game should be judged by its gameplay, and Ratchet: Deadlocked delivers. It's very much the same as the first three in the series. You take Ratchet through all kinds of levels, causing chaos with a plethora of weapons at his disposal. Be it a missile launcher, a sniper rifle, or a mini-turret launcher, you'll be causing a lot of fireworks. And the customization level of these weapons is deeper than ever, with 10 levels to each weapon plus 89 more when you buy the 'mega' version of a weapon. To introduce something new, you can now have robots at your command to assist in the killing or taking care of tasks that you would have had to do yourself. They offer a bit of help in the heat of battles, but when you need to crank a node or hack an orb you'll really be happy they're around. Who wants to try and take care of those things when you've got armies to slaughter? These battle buddies can also be customized as you progress through the game. One grievance is the lack of Clank taking a piggy back ride on Ratchet. He's behind a computer, relaying instructions through a comlink for this one. It does little to affect gameplay, but I miss the guy.
Deadlocked progresses a bit like this. You've got a home base, or a luxury containment suite, where Clank and Al hang out, ready to give a helping hand. From there you can go to the Battledome or a planet of your choice. In both cases, you are fighting to beat challenges, the occasional boss, collect bolts, and build your rep with dreadpoints. There's a ton of variety in the challenges. On foot, we've got arena battles against waves of enemies, obstacle courses, and adventures across various planets. But you can't forget the vehicles incorporated into many levels. You have a Hoverbike, a 4 legged Landstalker, a Puma, and the Hovership. More than enough to keep one from getting bored. Completing challenges net Dreadpoints, the system used to rank contestants on Dreadzone. Collect plenty so that damn stat computer will stop making fun of you! Add in the fact that by killing enemies you earn Nanotech, which can increase your maximum health capacity, Deadlocked is easily the deepest Ratchet and Clank game of them all. I can't help but just go 'wow' when I think about how many RPG elements can be found in Deadlocked.
Co-Op mode is much of the same, and it's pretty good while we're at it. It's fun to try and develop a good strategy to beat missions with the most efficency. Multiplayer is decent as well, though I find it to have a lack of balance. Alot of people may find themselves dead before they even have a chance to fight back with some weapons being as powerful as they are. But if you're good, and find someone else who's good, you can have yourself a pretty good time.
Among the few gripes that came up was linearity. In previous R&C games, you would go from planet to planet, taking care of things at your own pace and could go off on your own if you wanted. But this time around you're confined to just completing the mission, then heading back to your suite. A little limiting. Also, it may just be the shortest Ratchet game of them all thus far. I'm the kind of guy who loves to play a game long after I've actually beaten it to try and do everything I can, but if that's not your thing, Deadlocked will be in and out of your PS2 disc tray within a weekend. In all fairness, the game was meant to be replayed, but it's still probably shorter than any R&C game before it.
Another new addition to Deadlocked that deserves some note is difficulty modes. Previously, after beating the game, you could use the challenge mode to continue playing with the same file. Basically, you'd start the game over with the same items at the same level you had them at when you beat the game. The game would then get considerably harder the first time to compensate a bit, and all times after that would stay at the same mode, making you a nigh-invincible force after a few playthroughs. This time, you get to adjust the setting before entering the game every time. Their are 5 different levels of difficulty, the easiest being a breeze and the hardest being a real test of skill. So you can have as little or as much difficulty as you want going through the game.
The graphics certainly get the job done. The character models and enviroments look pretty, and the framerate is almost always steady. Once or twice, things got choppy, but most games will when faced with so much action happening at once. The sound is also well done. Plenty of great voice acting, nice effects, and fitting music. Most certainly technically sound. Controls make the game pretty easy to just pick up and play, and there are a few options for those who don't care for them. It's more or less what would be expected from a 3d platformer on the PS2.
And so, there you have the latest and greatest game of the Ratchet and Clank series. The level of depth and customization make it worth a purchase by any fan of the series, and make it a good candidate for taking up residence in your PS2 for awhile. And of course, it still has the destruction and fun that the series is now known for, and all in all is one of the best Playstation 2 games out there.