Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando
|Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando|
North American PlayStation 2 box art
Idol Minds (HD edition)
Mass Media (Vita port)
|Publisher(s)||Sony Computer Entertainment|
|Composer(s)||David Bergeaud, 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 Australia, and Ratchet & Clank 2 in Japan) is a 2003 3D platform video game developed by Insomniac Games and published by Sony Computer Entertainment for the PlayStation 2. Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando is the second game in the Ratchet & Clank series, following Ratchet & Clank and preceding Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal.
The game begins with an interview of Ratchet and Clank that is seen by Megacorp CEO Abercrombie Fizzwidget. Fizzwidget contacts Ratchet and Clank and explains that a top secret experiment was stolen from Megacorp. Ratchet and Clank agree to track down the experiment before being given Commando training.
The gameplay of Going Commando is similar to that of the original Ratchet & Clank. The player uses various weapons and gadgets while exploring planets and completing missions. It contains more minigames than were present in the previous game. The game also introduces role-playing game (RPG) elements, such as upgradeable weapons.
Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando was released roughly a year after its predecessor, and received critical acclaim. 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 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 primarily obtained by defeating enemies and breaking crates located throughout the game's levels. Going Commando also includes four types of "maxi-games", or minigames. These games include arena battles, spherical world battles, hover bike races, and space races/battles. After completing the game, the player may also enter "challenge mode" which is more difficult but the player starts with the weapons and health that they had when they finished the game the first time, additional weapon upgrades are also unlocked.
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, increasing its power and changing the design of it. 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 get "retro" weapons from the first game for free.
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 finding nanotech upgrades. The game introduces armor vendors, which are able to provide up to four additional levels of protection.
After defeating Drek in the first game, Ratchet and Clank become heroes in the Solana galaxy. Abercrombie Fizzwidget, the president of Megacorp, teleports Ratchet and Clank to an unknown space fleet in the Bogon galaxy. Through a hologram, Fizzwidget instructs Ratchet to retrieve an artificial Megacorp "Experiment" which has been stolen and is currently in the hands of a masked thief. Ratchet accepts the offer, but while Clank is reluctant to partake in another adventure at first, he accepts as well. After a fortnight of commando training, Ratchet is given new Megacorp armor and prepares to infiltrate the Aranos air base where the Experiment is being kept, but as he finds it, the thief confronts him and escapes with the experiment. The thief 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 rescues and repairs Clank, and Clank travels with Ratchet for the rest of the journey.
Ratchet and Clank find a recorded transmission in a water facility, 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 obtaining the Experiment, forcing them to fight their way out of an underground volcanic cavern filled with alien wildlife. After emerging from the cavern, Ratchet and Clank again encounter the thief demanding the Experiment, but Ratchet refuses to do so. The thief accidentally reveals herself as a female Lombax named Angela. She tells Ratchet and Clank that they have put the galaxy in serious danger by returning the Experiment to Fizzwidget. Ratchet and Clank are able to leave the planet after encountering a mystic who repairs their ship with his powers in exchange for crystals.
The duo travel to the Megacorp testing facility, discovering that the Experiment, now named the "Protopet", is a genetically modified pet designed by Megacorp to be the ultimate pet; however, the pet is defective and violent-natured. They also find that Fizzwidget is planning to mass release it to the public. Ratchet and Clank contact Fizzwidget, warning him of the dangers of the Protopet. Fizzwidget has the two head to the Megacorp Disposal Facility to meet him, although the password he gave them turns out to be false and sets off the facility's defense systems. Upon being contacted, Fizzwidget deviates further and explains that he was filming a commercial for the Megacorp factory on planet Torando. After their arrival, the duo receive a transmission by Angela advising them that Thugs-4-Less had terminated their contract with her and have taken control of her air base on Aranos. She shows them a commercial of the creature attacking a boy, asserting that all of Bogon will be doomed once Megacorp releases the Protopet. She suggests that the two should find Fizzwidget on the planet Boldan.
Ratchet and Clank reach the building where Fizzwidget is on Boldan, although it is revealed to only be a robotic version. They are quickly captured by Thugs-4-Less, accused of trying to kill Mr. Fizzwidget, and imprisoned in the Aranos air base. They escape from Aranos and travel to the Thugs-4-Less headquarters to free Angela after she gets captured. After they defeat the Thugs-4-Less leader, Angela reveals that she was once employed by Megacorp's genetics division and was working on fixing the Protopet's flaws, but could not finish because Fizzwidget pushed the release date too early. The three make plans to infiltrate Megacorp Headquarters and stop the Protopet once and for all.
After fighting their way to the Protopet Duplication room, Mr. Fizzwidget reveals himself to be Captain Qwark in disguise. After being defeated by Ratchet and Clank in the first game, the humiliated Qwark sold defective gadgets to the public claiming that they were Gadgetron products. Qwark was discovered and jailed, but was able to escape from prison and was not seen again. The disgraced hero arranged the Protopet outbreak so he could regain his former glory by destroying the Protopets and "saving" the galaxy. On live television, Qwark claims 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 an invention of Angela's called the Flix-A-Morph. However, the gadget is defective and the Protopet is transformed into a huge, mutant version of itself and swallows Qwark whole. Ratchet battles the monster and wins.
After the defeat of the mutant Protopet, the real Fizzwidget, whom Qwark had tied up and locked in a supply closet during his plan, thanks Ratchet and Clank for stopping the monster. Angela uses the Flix-A-Morph to return the Protopet to its normal, harmless state after it spits Qwark back out. She uses it on Megacorp's TV transponders to do the same to the rest of the hostile Protopets across the galaxy, ending the Protopet menace for good. Qwark later works for Megacorp as a test dummy for their products.
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 received 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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