Players: 1 Player Game | Release Date: 02/13/07 | Genre: Platform
One of the most beloved Sony franchises didn't exist prior to the PlayStation 2. But that didn't stop Sony and Insomniac from teaming up to deliver on nearly yearly releases to the franchise. Each one was different and brought something unique to the table that made it just as fun as the title before it. With as much support this series has received from the press and gamers, the only question that I can think of is where is Ratchet and Clank for my PSP? Fear not software-starved PSP owner--it has finally arrived. While the wait has been long, a new Developer has taken reigns of the handheld version and delivers on an experience that will make you fall in love with gaming on your PSP.
When you have such a deep catalogue of PlayStation 2 games to choose from in the Ratchet series, it would have been extremely easy for Sony to ask for a remake of one of the earlier titles. Instead of making this mistake for the R&C's first handheld adventure on the PSP, Developer High Impact Games took over Development for Insomniac and brought the series back to its roots. When I first heard this news I was a bit frightened by the prospect of a new Developer handling this title. But High Impact Games has done a marvelous job in their Development task and brought this series back to its roots. In fact, the job they have done is so spectacular that I am worried the upcoming PlayStation 3 version may not be as fun as Size Matters.
Ratchet and Clank: Size Matters begins with our heroes taking a much needed vacation. As you may have guessed their vacation soon turns into an epic quest as they must save a girl who has been abducted. This leads into a very lengthy quest with plenty of cinematic sequences, great voice work, lots of humor, and tons of weapons. Don't be fooled into thinking this is some sort of watered down version of Ratchet and Clank. Size Matters has everything its PS2 predecessors had and more.
One of the amazing things about Size Matters is that the team at High Impact Games was able to take a title that relied upon two analog sticks and make it play very well with only one. While the end result isn't perfect, the game does a great job of giving the player control over how they want the camera controlled. The default option is for the camera to center itself behind you. This works well for most cases. Another option allows for the camera to be mapped to the L and R buttons with the analog stick working as a forward, back/strafe left and right. This is a more advanced control scheme and I found it didn't work well for me compared to the default.
Players using the default control scheme will find strafing fairly easy to pull off by moving the d-pad left and right. This can help quickly take out enemies in front of you while avoiding taking damage. Unfortunately the drawback to this scheme is that circle strafing is much more difficult to do. It can be done with practice though.
Ratchet players will also have to adjust to performing some of the other key moves in the game. The initial level does a good job of holding the players hands when getting accustomed to the controls. However, it will take a little bit longer for the control scheme to become second nature to longtime fans of the series. This would all have been much easier if Sony would have but a second analog nub on the PSP.
Once you are accustomed to the controls, it is time to get down to the gameplay. This is where the power of the PSP shows up and delivers an awesome experience. Just like in prior Ratchet and Clank titles, your weapons grow stronger as you use them. These upgrades also help fight off stronger enemies that you will find yourself surrounded by in later areas. As you defeat enemies or destroy the environment, metal bolts will be left behind. These are used as currency to buy new weapons, refill ammo, etc at the shops that are scattered throughout each area. Be prepared to spend some time saving up your bolts to purchase some of the cooler weapons. These items are not cheap and can take several passes through a level to acquire enough funds.
As you seek to upgrade each of the many insane weapons in Ratchet and Clank: Size Matters, players will also find other equipment as well. Different suits and boots will give our heros new abilities and provide even more strategic elements to the action.
Ratchet and Clank: Size Maters features a huge single player campaign that will take you many hours to complete. (Editor's Note: Good luck finding all of the hidden Bolts in each area.) In fact, you will probably have to play through each of the areas several times to unlock everything. But the fun does not stop with the single player mode. High Impact Games has also added a full-featured multiplayer mode for up to four players in both infrastructure and ad hoc.
Overall, Ratchet and Clank: Size Matters is one of the best handheld games I have ever played. It is so good that I am surprised it wasn't made for the PlayStation 2. Since the release of Daxter last year, Sony has slowly been gaining support in creating AAA titles on their portable console. With games like Ratchet and Clank: Size Matters and others coming in 2007, this could be when the PSP finally begins to overtake the Nintendo DS. We highly recommend this title and once you get used to the controls, you may never take the UMD out of the drive.