Ratchet Gladiator Playstation 2 ReviewThe story behind Ratchet: Gladiator is simple enough – Ratchet and Clank find themselves captured by a mad TV producer (Vox – an intergalactic version of Robert Murdoch) who is running the gladiator like TV program Deadlock – fighting to the death is a ratings winner and if you are good enough you might just earn your freedom. In short order and with doomed resolve, Ratchet is suited up and paired with a couple of bots who, with their complaining and absent mindedness, hardly inspire confidence in our hapless hero.
The main focus of the game is on Ratchet and the bots as they battle through the various scenarios. Clank, rather than being in the thick of the action, plays the part of his coach, sitting at a terminal and keeping an eye on events and giving advice via intercom – he is certainly a sideline player here.
Ratchet’s battlefields are mostly stadium like and with an ever increasing assortment of weaponry (including his devastating wrench) he must chew his way through attack bots of all shapes and sizes. His companions do their fair share as well and often the scene is a hail of bombs, laser cannon fire and exploding pellets. Adding to the confusion are the lumps of gold that zoom in Ratchet’s direction after each kill. This gold comes in handy between fights to upgrade armor, guns and his companion bots (they come to him in less that average condition). Once the required number of kills has been reached force fields allow Ratchet to go through to the next area – inching Ratchet closer to the enviable show down with the current champion.
All of this action would be frustrating and the appeal of the game would last about as long as a Federal election TV Ad if the graphics were poor and the control sluggish but thankfully this is not the case. Graphics are sharp and game play smooth and fast. No sooner have you fired than your enemy explodes, Ratchet’s weapons fire as rapidly as you care to thumb the control. Another Godsend, considering the manic pace of the game, is that scenes load quickly and if you’re unlucky enough to die you spawn again in very short order.
The production value of this game is very high without losing sight of its light hearted and comical roots but hard core fans will notice some differences. No more open ended scenarios or puzzle solving, this is just a shoot-em-up – make no mistake. Imagine if they made a first person version of Tomb Raider – same premise, different experience. The humor and characterisations too are again first class with some definite adult humor hidden behind double meaning and well placed ‘beeps’.
If I had to gripe about something it would be the design of the HUD and, now that I mention it, the default button config doesn’t seem as friendly as they good be. Running out of ammo isn’t very obvious, in fact the only clue I got while playing was a ‘click’ and this was easily lost amongst the bombs and cannon fire. Once you have cottoned on that your gun is no longer working, changing the gun is a little unsure. It should be R1 and yet I am sure that this only changed my weapon half the time. Most of the time I just stayed with one gun and used my wrench until I found more ammo.
With all this aside though, the bottom line is this game is fast, furious and a lot of fun. If the non-stop destruction doesn’t get you, the humor will.