After enjoying a run of four hugely successful titles on the Playstation 2 console, Ratchet and his good buddy Clank are about to hop over to the Playstation Portable for yet another new adventure. But with Ratchet and Clank in the hands of a new developer in High Impact Games, and making the jump to the smaller PSP screen, can their new adventure live up to the high level of outer space bad guy blasting found in the console releases?
We got our hands on a demo copy of the much-anticipated PSP Ratchet and Clank title and after several hours of playing through the 3 playable levels, it's clear that Ratchet and Clank: Size Matters has lost very little in the transition to the smaller PSP screen.
The first playable level on the demo is called "Pokitaru Resort" and the entire level kicks off with an outstanding cut scene where we see Ratchet & Clank sunning on the beach and enjoying a little rest and relaxation time when a cute little girl suddenly starts snapping photographs of Ratchet. She tells him how she's doing a report on heroes and wants to write a piece on him and his many adventures. But she needs some pics of him for her paper and needs to see him performing "adventure activities" so she can snap the pics she needs. She shows him where there are some enemies nearby and once again Ratchet is swept up in another galaxy-saving adventure. The resort level is where you'll get a little instruction on how to use Ratchet's many moves and it's a nice place to get your feet wet before being thrown into the deep end of the pool in the next levels.
Ratchet can once again use his Super Jump and Copter Hover moves to navigate the many tricky areas in each of the levels. He can also zoom into first person viewpoint and use a very accurate aiming mechanism to shoot switches and targets he needs to use to progress further into each level. This is done quite easily by pressing the SELECT button to go into and out of this first-person mode. Ratchet can use his wrench to fend off enemies or reach into his trusty arsenal of guns to do the dirty work for him. As you acquire nuts and bolts you can purchase bigger and more destructive weapons, but even the early weapons in the game pack quite a punch. As in previous Ratchet & Clank games it's very intuitive when switching weapons as you just hold down the TRIANGLE button and move around the weapon wheel to select which weapon you want to use. This quick-switch comes in quite handy when the action is intense and you need to switch weapons on the fly.
The next playable level is "Mongo Madness" and this is your typical boss fight. This huge beast will come at you at the beginning of the level and you'll be required to run around and avoid the bombs he tosses at you not to mention avoid the pummeling you'll get if you allow him to get too close to you. You can use your various weapons, including the newly acquired Scorcher flame thrower to fend him off, but you'll have to figure this guy's pattern out if you want to beat him. Everything in this early boss fight is well-animated and shows all of the same up-tempo action you've become used to seeing in the Ratchet & Clank boss fights over the years.
The last playable level on the demo is "Clank Challenge" and this level allows you to take control of Ratchet's sidekick Clank. What makes these levels so much fun is that you can locate helper robots in these levels in which you can control by giving commands to them. There are four commands you can issue including: ENTER, WAIT, ATTACK, and FOLLOW. They're all pretty self-explanatory and these levels make you use your head to figure out the puzzle laid out before you. Sometimes there will be floor switches that hold open doors you need to progress futher into the level. You'll have to command your robot helpers to stand on these switches and not move while you go on through the door. You can then usually hit a switch to keep the door open while you issue the FOLLOW command to get the robots to return to your side. You can even pick the robots up and toss them to unreachable areas of some levels. It's really quite fun and adds a nice change of pace to the normally insane shooting pace of the Ratchet levels.
All in all it's quite clear even from this early demo that no corners were cut in bringing the Ratchet & Clank experience to the smaller screen of the PSP. Beautifully detailed visuals, great cut scenes, spot-on voice acting, and enough firepower to keep even the wildest shooter fanatic happy, all come together to form one of the best Ratchet & Clank adventures to date. Insomniac may not have developed this game, but you certainly won't know it from playing it. The soundtrack in the game is also one of the best we've heard since the first Ratchet & Clank game. They've even toned down the "clanking" sounds you hear when you're picking up nuts & bolts in each level to make it much more enjoyable to listen to for long periods of time. The level of quality in this demo is astounding and if the rest of the game is this good, PSP owners are in for a real treat later this month. This one comes highly recommended.