marino's Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal (PlayStation 2) review

Insomniac Further Perfects Action-Platforming

Up Your Arsenal is the third installment of the Ratchet & Clank saga.  After disowning their baby Spyro, Insomniac has set out to make the best overall action-platformer in the industry.  And while they have a friendly rivalry with Naughty Dog (Jak & Daxter), with an entry like Up Your Arsenal, it would be hard to say that Insomniac hasn't succeeded in that very goal.  It's impossible not to compare it to Jak & Daxter because both games have borrowed from each other.  R&C has always been about combat with a slew of crazy weapons that range from basic shotguns and grenade launchers to guns that turn enemies into sheep and blackhole inducing blasters.  If you haven't played any Ratchet & Clank games in the past 3 years, you are a significantly less happy person, but fear not, because anyone can jump into this one.  Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal is the epitome of what platform games should be.  It's simply an excellent game on all fronts.  
 
 
Graphics 
In a word, vibrant.  R&C has always been full of eye candy and nothing has changed this year.  Tons of interactive things on screen, big levels, no slowdown even with armies of enemies charging at you, and spectacular special effects.  The cutscenes are great and show how detailed the character animation really is.  The game simply looks great, and you'll get plenty of "oohs" the first time you fire some of the zany weapons.     
 
 
Control 
Typical platforming stuff here, but done extremely well.  You've got your basics: jump, double jump, hover, shoot, etc.  But UYA goes above and beyond even its own predecessors by giving you the option of turning the game into a FPS.  This is great for some of the combat arena competitions.  Overall you just have to love the massive amount of weapons available and how they all grow with use.  One of my favorite guns is the Suck Cannon which sucks up enemies then uses them as ammo against their friends.  One bonus that I thought was cool is that you can get a discount on the older weapons if you have R&C1 saves on your memory card. 
 
The main story is fairly linear but that's not to say it isn't fun, and even challenging at times.  It's not as hard as Goin' Commando but there are times when you may get stuck.  Overall though, this game just feels right.  The physics are there, the controls feel precise, and it all adds up to solid gameplay.     
 
 
Sound 
Best voice-overs ever?  Well, that's debatable, but they're excellent here.  Every character has a theme, and the voice actors nailed every single one of them.  Ratchet has his lovable "Not again..." attitude, while Clank's dry humor is genius as always.  Cult favorite Captian Quark and his creepy one-eyed monkey are back again as well.  The sound effects are great considering you won't see anything like most of the weapons in any other game, and add a sense of power and lividity to the weapons.  The soundtrack isn't bad either.     
 
 
Replay Value 
Most action platform games are one and done.  What I mean is that once you play through it, that's it.  This is not the case in UYA.  First of all, it is the first platformer to go online.  That's right, 8-player online Deathmatches, CTF, and Siege.  Siege works like UT2K4's Onsalught, including various vehicles, caputring nodes in an attempt to destroy your enemy's base.  This is no half-assed online play either.  The game offers 10 different maps which are all pretty big and full of destructable objects and of course loads of weapons.  Strategy is involved as well since things like bridges are destructable.  Will you destroy your own base's bridges in an attempt to defend it, or will you leave them up to increase your teams travel speed?  It's obviously not the best online experience, but it comes from an unexpected source and is fresh to console gamers. 
 
As if that wasn't enough, you can actually play through the story mode again.  Your weapons level up with experience as you use them.  On your first play through they can reach Level 5, but on the second time through they can get up to Level 7.  The enemies are harder, but you're going to be better equipped for the challenge.  Plain and simple, UYA is the most complete platforming game to date. 
 
 
Conclusion 
Ratchet & Clank may be viewed by ignorant people as a "kiddie" game since it appears cartoonish, but those people are described as ignorant for a reason.  Not because they're stupid, but because they simply haven't tried it.  Ratchet & Clank is one of the best franchises on the PS2, and Up Your Arsenal is the best of the series.  You don't have to be a fan of platform games or even a veteran of this series to enjoy this game.  If simply blowing shit up sounds fun to you, then this is your game.  R&C goes far beyond "just blowing shit up" but that's as simple as I can put it.  From the great story, excellent voice-overs, and addition to online mode, Up Your Arsenal is one fucking fun game.     
 
 
*** This review was written for Flamevault.com shortly after the game's release. ***
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