Ratchet: Deadlocked ReviewCain Dornan
Pulling the duo from the platforming scene, Ratchet: Gladiator (Or Ratchet: Deadlocked for US gamers) takes a slightly different route for the traditionally action platforming series. There are quite a few differences between Gladiator and previous Ratchet & Clank titles, which include the absence of Clank from any gameplay sections, little platforming elements and the heavier focus on action. Despite these changes, Ratchet: Gladiator still maintains the same feel as its predecessors, allowing fans of the series to feel instantly at home in the duos latest adventure.
Ratchet: Gladiator begins with a cinematic showing Ratchet, Clank and their nerdy robot-fanatical friend Al traveling through space. Suddenly, the control panel begins to flash red, just as a group of armoured robots appear, kidnapping our three heroes and whisking them off to a dark side of the galaxy, untouched by the laws that govern the rest of the galaxy. The reason for your capture soon becomes apparent as you are introduced to Gleeman Vox; a sleazy businessman who makes his fortune from running an underground television network that broadcasts the live slaughter of super heroes throughout the galaxy. The competition, which is appropriately known as the Dreadzone, is similar to the Colosseum gladiator days of ancient Rome. Ratchet is forced to compete in the competition, while Clank guides him through his quest and Al provides the robots that aid you in your battles.
Ratchet: Gladiator sees the return of a large collection of classic weapons that have long became series favorites, while a number of brand-new additions adds a breath of new life. While the number of weapons on offer isnt quite as large as Ratchets previous platform outings, youll find that only the truly serious weapons have been included. Weapons can be upgraded based on the frequency that they are used, with the weapon increasing its level of performance the more you use it. You can also purchase upgrades, in addition to new weapons, in the shop. Upgrades include new firing styles, such as those that cause your weapon to shoot a blast of cold ice or a pool of boiling lava, allowing you to add a slight power enhancement to select weapons.
Accompanying the lineup of unique over-the-top weapons is the inclusion of vehicles, which aid in your destructive quest in quite a few events. The Landstalker is a spider-like vehicle that is armed with dual-lasers and a powerful rocket attack, which can be charged to launch numerous rockets at a single time. There is also a small tank-like vehicle that offers a miniature cannon, allowing you to travel at fast speeds and destroy enemy targets. The Hovership is a flying-based vehicle that usually sees you flying around space environments attacking enemy targets, both stationary and moving. The last of the vehicles on offer is a hovering motorbike, which is usually used for events that involve getting from place to place within a strict time limit.
The game consists of a mixture of both compulsory and somewhat optional events. While you have to complete each compulsory event in order to proceed through the game, the optional events are only necessary for increasing your Dreapoints, which are required to unlock additional planets that are home to further Dreadzone events. While you do not have to complete all optional events in order to complete the game, you will soon find that you will be forced to complete a majority of them to obtain enough Dreadpoints to progress.
Throughout Ratchets quest to save himself and his friends, youll have the opportunity to unlock a horde of extras. There are a number of different character skins, which range from characters that have appeared in previous Ratchet & Clank titles through to those who have been pulled from other Sony Computer Entertainment titles, such as Jak, which offer slight visual variation for those who like to have fun with their characters appearance. There is also the usual development artwork to unlock, which offers early artist renditions of characters and locations. Despite these unlockable additions, however, the game remains to be too short, easily being completed after around six hours of play time when playing on the easier difficulties. While the higher difficulties do offer a challenge, which ultimately increases the games lifespan, those who select an easier difficulty will find that the game is somewhat short lived.
Then again, if youre the multiplayer type, the short single player experience will make way for the large multiplayer offering, which allows you to play through the games story mode in a cooperative atmosphere or go head-to-head in the games versus mode, which is very similar to the multiplayer mode in Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal. The versus mode allows you to take on a friend in such modes as Deathmatch and Capture the Flag, or you can take it into the online realm against gamers around the world.
Ratchet: Gladiators presentation sticks true to the series foundations. The characters all offer a cartoon-inspired look, however, developer Insomniac Games has ensured each character animates fluently without any graphical issues. Character detail both in-game and during cinematics is far from spectacular, however, the general simplistic feel of the game helps to hide this. The satisfying visuals are complemented with a host of fantastic voice over work and unique sound effects.
While the game does suffer from a short single player experience, Ratchet: Gladiator is an overall enjoyable experience. Long-time fans of the series will likely be pleased with Ratchets new direction, while other gamers may grow tired of the repetitive gameplay that does grow slightly stagnant due to its recurring nature. In the end, though, its a nice refresher for series veterans, offering a nice little change from the usual save-the-universe theme that has been present in the previous titles.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.