Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters Review

As the first title developed by High Impact Games, Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters goes back to the franchise

For all the grief the PSP has gotten as a portable system, the one thing Sony should be commended for is the graphical horsepower packed in the machine. Ratchet and Clank is no exeption and at times I had to ask myself if this wasn’t an actual PS2 game I was playing. The Ratchet and Clank series has always eschewed realistic settings for cartoonish alien landscapes. Size Matters utilizes the same style the series has become known for, and creates very believable environments for you to explore and blow up.

Personally, I feel the character design is what has made the Ratchet and Clank series so enjoyable. Every character, minus the two heroes, has an over the top Saturday morning cartoon kind of feel to it. This works great with the exotic alien worlds throughout the game. Everything feels straight out of a comic book or cartoon, and for someone who is big on the game world being very uniform this makes me happy. The variety of enemies in the series has always been big for me, and Size Matters never lets you get bored with the enemy designs. From massive screen filling bosses to pigmies to robot marauders you won’t be dissapointed with the variety.

On the technical side of things I would’ve liked some of the worlds to be a little bit bigger. I understand that being a portable title the developers are limited, and while they do jam a lot into these worlds, they feel a little tight at times. Other than that the game runs fairly smooth with only the slightest hiccups in frame rate when there’s an absolute ton of things happening on screen. Size Matters doesn’t truly add anything graphically to the series, but it does an excellent job channeling its console brethren and it definitely is one of the better looking games on PSP when you consider art direction, cohesiveness and technical ouput.

Ratchet and Clank has never been known for an excellent soundtrack, and the same can be said for Size Matters. However, the game excels with wonderful voice acting and writing that will have you in stitches while playing the game. Other developers should take note of the great talent Sony gets for their games. Each character is made that much more believable because of the wonderful acting. One other touch I did enjoy was that the music would ramp up as the action got heavier and heavier. I’ve always liked that in action games instead of having heavy metal or redundant music playing over and over. Otherwise the music isn’t much to write home about, but it is presented perfectly, and the voice acting is top class in the world of portable and even home console games. One of the first things I tend to notice about PSP games is how much better they would play with two analog sticks. Fortunately, Size Matters has a solid enough control scheme that it really doesn’t hurt the game too much. In fact, if you have ever played the console versions you really won’t miss a beat. Aiming, firing, and weapon switching are all very easy to do, but things are a little weird in terms of movement. You can use the analog stick for total movement in the 3d space, and supplement that with the d-pad for strafing. The game doesn’t really tell you that off the bat, but you’ll figure it out quick enough. I never felt any frustration with the controls, and I never felt as if I was fighting them either. I also love how the mini-games really mix up how you play the game, and the developers definitely created a scheme for each one that maximized the PSP control layout.

Size Matters is built on classic platform game play mixed with solid mini-games and topped off with a decent multiplayer portion. If you’ve played any prior Ratchet and Clank titles you will instantly feel at home. One of the best things introduced by the series is the rpg-like growth of both your weapons and Ratchet’s health meter. Also, each standard level has been cleverly designed with enough room for exploration, creative use of context sensitive items, and a healthy mix of game play change ups like shrinking down and zipping through a lock to get through a door. Lastly, each stage is its own separate world that you land on and explore. This gives each area a unique feel and different take on the standard game play.

Not to be out done, Clank returns with his own side stages. Everything is made bigger because of Clank’s small size, and instead of the varied weapons he gets his own mini army. You use easy to access commands to get your troops to follow you about, and there are some Lemmings-like moments where you will direct them to specific points to open up paths. Clank’s stages slow down the pace considerably, and they really offer a good change versus the standard blow everything up game play of the regular stages.

Every couple of worlds you will get the chance to try out some of the mini-games. For Ratchet you will do the hover board racing. At first it’s fun to race around the stages, but they become almost too hard to be worth the rewards. Clank, on the other hand, gets a series of challenges involving his specific robot skills. I felt that these games were a lot more enjoyable than the hover board racing. Also interspersed thoughout the game are several on rails space shooter levels that, while easy, are a lot of fun and offer a great mix to the game in general. Lastly, there is a versus multiplayer element that is fairly playable but doesn’t do anything special to warrant it worth connecting to others to play.

Portable games rarely rival their console brethren. So when one comes along that is stuffed with everything you expect from a regular console release, you would be hard pressed to not feel that you are getting a great value. Size Matters has a full sized adventure with a ton of mini-games to play, and a multiplayer mode that will give it even greater legs if you want that. I am hard pressed to find any other portable game that offers as much as Sony has packed into this tiny UMD.

Ron Burke is the Editor in Chief for Gaming Trend. Currently living in Fort Worth, Texas, Ron is an old-school gamer who enjoys CRPGs, action/adventure, platformers, music games, and has recently gotten into tabletop gaming. Ron is also a fourth degree black belt, with a Master's rank in Matsumura Seito Shōrin-ryū, Moo Duk Kwan Tang Soo Do, Universal Tang Soo Do Alliance, and International Tang Soo Do Federation. He also holds ranks in several other styles in his search to be a well-rounded fighter. Ron has been married to Gaming Trend Editor, Laura Burke, for 21 years. They have three dogs - Pazuzu (Irish Terrier), Atë, and Calliope (both Australian Kelpie/Pit Bull mixes).
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