Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando
|Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando|
Idol Minds (HD edition)
|Publisher(s)||Sony Computer Entertainment|
Niels Bye Nielsen (additional music)
|Series||Ratchet & Clank|
|Engine||Insomniac Engine v.1.0|
Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando (known as Ratchet & Clank 2: Locked and Loaded in Europe and Ratchet & Clank 2 in Japan) is a 3D platformer developed by Insomniac Games and published by Sony. Released for the PlayStation 2 in 2003, it is the second game in the Ratchet & Clank series, following Ratchet & Clank and preceding Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal.
The game begins with Ratchet and Clank being hired by the company Megacorp to find a small creature that was stolen from the company's labs. Ratchet finds the thief and returns the creature to Megacorp before learning that the creature, called a "protopet", is a dangerous monster which reproduces at amazing speed and that Megacorp is planning to market it to unknowing customers across the Galaxy. The duo must stop the protopet menace and save the galaxy.
The gameplay of Going Commando is similar to that of the original Ratchet & Clank. The player explores planets in the "Bogon" Galaxy and undertakes missions. It contains more mini-games than were present in the previous game. The game also introduces role-playing game (RPG) elements, such as upgradeable weapons. Going Commando was released roughly a year after its predecessor, and received very positive reviews. Critics noted the game's improved graphics, longer gameplay, and added role-playing elements as being major improvements over the original, but also criticized the game for its very high difficulty.
The player controls Ratchet from a third-person perspective, and uses weapons to defeat enemies. The player can also use gadgets to explore new areas. The player travels to planets in the "Bogon" Galaxy and completes main objectives and optional side quests. "Bolts", the game world's currency, are obtained by defeating enemies and breaking crates located throughout the game's levels. Going Commando also includes four types of "maxi-games", mini-games in which the player can participate to earn bolts . These games including arena battles, hover bike races, spherical worlds, and space combat. After completing the game, the player may also enter "challenge mode", which is more difficult but allows the player to start with the weapons and health that they had when they finished the game the first time.
Going Commando introduces eighteen new weapons, such as the Blitz Gun, Seeker and Lava Gun. Each weapon has a "growth bar", which increases when the weapon is used to defeat enemies. The weapon is upgraded once the bar is filled, doubling its power and changing the design of its shot. Certain devices from the original Ratchet & Clank make a return, such as the Swingshot, while others are new to Going Commando. The player can use a save file from the original Ratchet & Clank to access a selection of "retro" weapons from that game, bringing the total number of available weapons to twenty-four.
As with weapons, Ratchet gains experience with each enemy destroyed. When Ratchet's experience bar fills, he gains a new level of nanotech. This awards him with additional health bubbles, up to a maximum of 80. Ratchet's health can also be increased by collecting nanotech upgrade items. The game introduces armor vendors, which are able to provide up to five additional levels of protection.
After defeating Drek in the first game, Ratchet and Clank become heroes. Abercrombie Fizzwidget, the president of Megacorp who is searching for "the right man" to do a job, teleports Ratchet and Clank to an unknown space fleet where they find a hologram of Fizzwidget. Fizzwidget instructs Ratchet to retrieve a valuable Megacorp "Experiment" which has been stolen and is currently in the hands of the thief. Ratchet accepts the offer, but Clank is reluctant to partake in another adventure and instead heads off to his Megacorp Rest Quarters on planet Endako. Ratchet is given new Megacorp armor to infiltrate the Aranos air base where the Protopet was last seen, but the thief escapes with the experiment and hires a mercenary group known as "Thugs-4-Less" for protection. While Ratchet travels from planet to planet in search of the thief, the thief kidnaps Clank from his apartment in Megapolis and sends Ratchet a transmission of Clank being electrocuted as a threat. Ratchet repairs and rescues Clank, and Clank travels with Ratchet for the rest of the journey.
Ratchet and Clank eventually stumble upon planet Notak, where they find a transmission, giving them the coordinates to the thief's hideout on planet Siberius. They travel to Siberius, defeat the thief, and retrieve the "Experiment". Fizzwidget arranges a rendezvous on planet Tabora where the hand-off of the "Experiment" will take place. On Tabora, Fizzwidget "accidentally" destroys Ratchet's ship and ejects the duo from his own aircraft after they hitch a ride in it, forcing them to fight their way out of a treacherous underground volcanic cavern filled with alien mutants. After emerging from the underground cavern, Ratchet and Clank again encounter the thief who is accidentally revealed as a female Lombax, same species as Ratchet. She warns Ratchet and Clank that the seemingly harmless "Experiment" is actually highly dangerous and will doom the entire galaxy. Ratchet and Clank are able to leave the planet after encountering a mystic who repairs their ship with his powers in exchange for crystals found in the planet's vast expanse of desert.
The duo travel to the Megacorp testing facilities on planet Dobbo where they find out that the girl, who they learn is named Angela Cross, is correct. The "Experiment" which is now named the "Protopet" is a genetically-modified pet designed by Megacorp to be the ultimate plaything, however, the pet contains some sort of unchecked defect that causes it to become violent against its owner. They also find out that Fizzwidget is mass releasing it to the public. Ratchet and Clank contact Fizzwidget, warning him of the dangers of the Protopet and pleading with him to destroy the experiment, but Fizzwidget does not listen and Megacorp begins to mass release the Protopet. Angela also reveals to the duo that Thugs-4-Less has terminated its contract with her and is now protecting Mr. Fizzwidget.
Ratchet and Clank find out that Mr. Fizzwidget is handing out Protopets on planet Boldan and travel there to stop him. However they find a robot version of Fizzwidget, they are quickly captured by Thugs-4-Less, accused of trying to kill Mr. Fizzwidget, and sent to the Aranos air base, now named the Thugs-4-Less prison on Aranos. They escape from Aranos and travel to the Thugs-4-Less headquarters to free Angela (who had also been captured) after defeating the Thugs-4-Less leader. The three make plans to infiltrate the Megacorp Headquarters and eliminate the Protopet once and for all.
After fighting their way to the Protopet Duplication room, the trio are captured by Mr. Fizzwidget as prisoners. In a surprising twist, Mr. Fizzwidget reveals himself to be Captain Qwark in disguise. After being defeated by Ratchet and Clank in the first game, the humiliated Qwark fraudulently sold defective gadgets to the public claiming that they were Gadgetron products. Qwark was discovered and jailed, but was able to escape from prison never to be seen again. In an elaborate plan, the disgraced hero, who had been disguised as Mr. Fizzwidget the whole time, arranged the Protopet outbreak so that they would wreak havoc across the Bogon galaxy and Qwark could regain his former glory by destroying the Protopet and "saving" the galaxy. Qwark switches on a camera putting him on live television, claims to the public that the Protopet outbreak had been caused by Ratchet, Clank, and Angela, and attempts to fix the Protopet's violent nature in front of the entire galaxy using a gadget that had been designed by Angela. However, Qwark uses the gadget wrong and the Protopet is transformed into a huge violent mutant that swallows Qwark. Ratchet and Clank are forced to defeat the monster.
After Ratchet defeats the giant Protopet, the real Fizzwidget (who was tied up in a supply closet the whole game) and Angela thanks him for stopping the monster which then spits Qwark out. Angela uses the gadget to return the Protopet to its normal, harmless state. She also intends to use it on Megacorp's TV transponders to do the same to the rest of the wild Protopets across the galaxy, ending the Protopet menace. Qwark is later hired by Megacorp as a test dummy. The game ends with a scene of Qwark hilariously being used to test a painful and uncomfortable new Megacorp product known as the Crotchitizer.
Development and release
Going Commando was approved for development five months before the first game's release, after highly positive reviews from the original's playtesters. In August 2002, Insomniac Games started designing the visual concepts for Going Commando, while still fixing bugs in the original game. Brian Hastings, Insomniac's Vice President of Programming, said in a 2003 interview that the first step in the game's design was to "try to come up with a few 'Big Ideas'. These are the things we think will really grab people's attention and give the game that Wow-Factor. In the case of Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando the big ideas were RPG elements (like weapon upgrades and health upgrades), spherical planets and space combat." Hastings said that the inspiration for the game's spherical worlds came in part from the cover of the 1943 novel The Little Prince. Designing the spherical worlds required changing about 50,000 lines of the game's code, to account for the different handling of gravity. Development took a total of ten months, during which time Insomniac's design team doubled from 40 to 80 members.
One common criticism of the original Ratchet & Clank was the design and personality of Ratchet. Ted Price, the game's producer, said that to fix this they made Ratchet "less cocky, he is much more friendly to Clank, and he's able to handle himself better in stressful situations without being impetuous, which is what he was in Ratchet 1." The character of Captain Qwark was a late addition to the game.
Going Commando was released in North America on November 11, 2003, Europe on November 21, 2003, and Japan on December 11, 2003. In 2004, Sony added Going Commando to their Greatest Hits series of games for the PlayStation 2, and it was similarly added to the Platinum Range used in the PAL region on August 13, 2004, and to the Japanese list of The Best games on July 8, 2004.
Going Commando was received with universal acclaim. 1UP.com said that "Everything that Ratchet & Clank did, Going Commando does better, and the tweaks and additions just push it further over the top." Game Informer's Andy McNamara said that the game has "the best and most compelling content [Insomniac] has put out to date."
The game's arena combat and racing levels were praised by Andrew Reiner of Game Informer, and Benjamin Turner of GameSpy similarly said that "it's surprising how fun it can be to play interstellar gladiator." GamePro praised the game's pacing, saying that the first game felt like it didn't "really show its true colors until about halfway through", but that Going Commando had the same feeling by the end of the second level. GameSpot mentioned that the "great sense of humor" of the original game is also noticeable in Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando, a statement echoed by GameZone when they said that the game's cut-scenes "represent some of the most thought-out and gut-wrenchingly funny sequences ever witnessed in a platforming game."
Going Commando's graphics were praised by reviewers, who specifically mentioned Ratchet's improved character design. Game Informer said that "the graphical details will leave you speechless..." GameSpot considered the reuse of graphics for the menus and mission screens to be "a little lazy", but praised the graphics and sound effects of the game's weapons. GameSpy mentioned that "Going Commando is easily the most graphically impressive platformer on the market". GameZone reported that the game's sound was well-done, including the music, weapon effects, and dialogue.
Criticism of the game was aimed at its level of difficulty, which is higher than that of its predecessor; 1UP.com mentioned that this was most noticeable near the end of the game, where "there are levels that consist of nothing but wave after wave of difficult enemies thrown at you to deplete your ammo, and then more waves of enemies after that." GameSpy, however, praised this aspect of the game, saying that it made Going Commando more interesting than the original. Some reviewers also felt that the game's space combat was poorly done in comparison to the rest of the game, and that the "Giant Clank" levels were "brainless and boring".
The game was awarded 11th place on IGN's 2007 list of "The Top 25 PS2 Games of All Time". IGN also awarded both Going Commando and Final Fantasy X-2 their Game of the Month award for November 2003 in their first "Game of the Month" feature to cover two games.
While the first Ratchet and Clank suffered, in my opinion, because of its immensely generic homogenization of character and because of its relative ease, Ratchet and Clank Going Commando tries to solve these problems in typical Insomniac fashion. Ratchet too annoying? Let him grow up and take charge. Game too easy? Increase the quantity and kinds of weapons for Ratchet and for the enemies. But Insomniac didn't just fix problems. It looked at every detail of the first game and from the ground up improved everything wholesale. It upgraded everything, and then it added new stuff. [...] Throughout its core fabric, Going Commando is improved in every way.—Douglass C. Perry
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