"Ratchet and Clank: Going Commando" Platinum Review
The Adventure Continues
Ratchet and Clank: Going Commando was released in 2003, and was the second game in the Ratchet and Clank franchise. It’s characters, graphics, and gameplay are why it is considered to be one of the greatest PS2 games ever. In 2012, it was HD remastered for the PS3 along with the rest of the trilogy.
After a game developer releases a super popular and successful game, it puts pressure on them to make a sequel that is equal or better than the original. Insomniac Games accomplished this with flying colors. They improved everything between the first two games. One of the many reasons why I love Insomniac Games so much is that they have a terrific gauge for what needs improving, and they fix those problems in the next game. They did it between Spyro 1 and 2 and they did it again between the Ratchet and Clank games. They included bolt multipliers in New Game+, upgradeable weapons, an experience system where you can gain maximum health, and they added their signature arena combat mode; all these to make the game better and more enjoyable.
In this game, nothing is what it seems. For the first half of the game, it appears that the Dr. Doom on Green Goblin’s hoverboard character that keeps trying to kill them is the main villain of the game. However, after he is unmasked as a young female Lombax named Angela, that idea goes out the window. And to add to that, why is she now on their side after she is unmasked? She tried to kill them!! She hired a team of a sensitive biker gang hitman squad to kill men! Why are Ratchet and Clank trusting her?! Because she’s an attractive possible love interest? CinemaSins is right. The power of boners is stronger than common sense. Also, to continue on with Angela; where is she after this game? We never see her again after this game. She wasn’t even a part of the “Avengers Assembly” during Up Your Arsenal. It doesn’t make much sense. Anyways, I’m done with my rant now.
The Weakest Link
I think the story is the weakest part of this game. Instead of there being a hateable villain that you want to see get beaten, there’s a mass production of tiny ravenous blue creature things called Protopets that were marketed by a science company as pets for children. However, they went rogue and started attacking their owners. They don’t talk or do anything really. If you have to be specific, I guess Mr. Fizzwidget, or the pretend Mr. Fizzwidget at least, is the villain. Although he’s really just a bumbling idiot who uses multisyllabic words incorrectly. He also turned out to be Captain Qwark in a Mission-Impossible inspired Mr. Fizzwidget suit. The real Fizzwidget was trapped in a supply closet. Qwark wanted to set the Protopets loose in the galaxy so he could be the one to save the galaxy and get his reputation back. If you want to get more in the weeds, there shouldn’t have been a final boss fight at all. The final boss was an admittedly terrifying giant Protopet that was created after Qwark screwed up Angela’s elixo-thingie majig she invented to tame the Protopets into docile pets. If Qwark hadn’t been such an idiot, there would be no final boss.
Despite all these minor story complaints, the gameplay has the same level of amazing as the first game and then some. The addition of the arena combat mode alone makes it a better game than the first one. The arena is probably best aspect of any Ratchet and Clank game. You have the opportunity to fight unique bosses, do time attack challenges, and marathon challenges all for some sweet sweet bolts. One of these marathon challenges, the aptly named Impossible Challenge is absolutely insane. 60 waves of enemies one after the other, including multiple boss battles and the so-called “cage matches throughout. I was never able to do this as a child because the PS2 version kept glitching during the challenge. At various points, enemies would just stop coming even though I killed all the previous wave. Luckily, the remaster fixed this glitch, so it is okay now. It is very hard, but insanely fun. You should only do this after your health and weapons are fully upgraded, though. The difficulty is worth it because you get 2 hundred thousand bolts (2 million during New Game+) for your troubles.
Speaking of New Game+, after you finish your first playthrough of the game, you can choose to play through the game again except you get to keep all your weapons from your previous run. You can use this playthrough to fully upgrade your weapons and health. The introduction of upgrades gives you the incentive to diversify what weapons you use. Many of the weapons in the first game I just plain didn’t use because they didn’t deal enough damage or had a crappy firing rate. Other weapons were more useful to me. Because of this, I only used like three or four weapons. Since Going Commando upgrades a weapon the more you use it, it gives you a reason to use every weapon. This can get a little annoying because some weapons are very weak and are a pain to kill enemies with. However, it’s totally worth it to see the fully upgraded versions of some of these weapons in action. Insane weapons like the Bouncer are even more insane when fully leveled up to level 10. It is so fun to use weapons like these. I don’t think it’ll ever get old.
Unnecessarily Difficult and Tedious
However, there are a couple of flaws in some of the levels. The difficulty of some of the planets is staggering. The original playthrough of the game is probably the hardest of any game in the series. There are enemies everywhere that are incredibly tough to kill. Even though I’m very familiar with the game and completed it several times, I have trouble with some of the levels.
This game also includes one of the most drawn out and tedious battles in the entire series. After getting through what is probably the hardest section in the game, you must beat a giant robot mech by shooting it with cannons. You have to use these cannons scattered throughout the area to shoot the robot, but after 30 seconds or so, he shoots rockets at you, destroying the cannon. You must then move to another and do the same thing over and over until it dies. If you die at any point, you must do the whole battle again. It is incredibly boring and a pain in the neck.
Most of the same problems I had with the first game’s trophy list I have again with this game with one big exception: the bolt trophies are much easier to get. Due to the bolt multipliers in New Game+, the trophy for getting 2,000,000 bolts (twice as many the previous game) is a cinch to obtain. Just continue through the game on your second playthrough and you should get fairly easily. However, the two trophies for getting the platinum bolts and skill points are still annoying as heck. Some of them require patience, practice, and skill to obtain them. For instance, Killing the arena bosses with just the wrench, not getting hit on the grind-rail, and killing all the squirrels in Todano are very annoying and will take time to achieve. Despite the difficulty, I believe the hassle is worth it.
Unlockables and Minigames
Going Commando introduced unlockables that you could get for collecting all the platinum bolts and skill points. Unlike the first game where all you got was a sketchbook and a silly epilogue that you could just as easily view online, you get a variety of ridiculous yet very cool collectibles. Big head mode, a snowman/tuxedo skin, a SHEEP INVADERS MINIGAME, and very sill commercial for stupid made-up products are among the things that you get for getting all the items in the game. The coolest thing you can get, though, is a trip to the Insomniac Museum. Once you get all the weapon mods and skill points, you can fast travel anytime to this true staple of the Ratchet and Clank games. In the Insomniac Museum, you can view specs of cut weapon and enemy ideas along with developer commentary on cut gadget products.
Overall, A Successful Sequel
Ratchet and Clank: Going Commando is a ridiculously fun game. The over-the-top weapons and funny dialogue makes it one of my favorite games to go back to and play. With the introduction of the bolt multipliers, upgradeable health/weapons, and the arena challenges, it has become vastly superior to the original. Also, the inclusion of various costumes and rewards for getting all the collectibles, it has become worth it to get all the platinum bolts and skill points. Due to these upgrades from the first game, I give this game my grading of Platinum It.