"BLAM BLAM BLAM excuse me sir BLAM BLAM BLAM and you are dust. Aha crates! SWISH SLASH SWISH mmm delicious bolts CLINK CLINK CLINK CLINK ah good day sir BLAM BLAM BLAM BLAM BLAM BLAM sorry must be going BLAM BLAM and you are dust CLINK CLINK ahh yes I WILL have an even more powerful gun thank you BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOOOOOOOM..."
That is what playing a Ratchet & Clank game should be like. This is what playing Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters is like:
"BLAM BLAM BLAM oops where have you gone sir OW OW OW hello Mr Camera come in over OW OW BLAM BLAM OW Mr Camera can you keep up please OW OW BLAM BLAM Mr Camera I really must insist BLAM oh no all the ammo has gone on shooting the wall OW OW OW OW OW OW OW I am dust."
Which sounds like more fun to you?
For those who aren't familiar, Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters is the PS2 version of the identically titled PSP game that came out last May. Kristan gave the original 8 out of 10, writing, "Size Matters deserves a place in any discerning platform gamer's collection." Size Matters PS2, however, deserves a place in any discerning platform gamer's bin.
Not looking good
The game just hasn't made the transition well. Visuals that looked sharp and smooth on the PSP's screen appear jagged and blocky on a proper telly. The detail in the environments isn't as impressive when they're blown up to a bigger size, and everything looks bland. The glitch that makes Ratchet's armour mysteriously disappear during cut-scenes is still there. No one would expect Size Matters to be of the same visual quality as Ratchet & Clank PS3, but a newcomer to the series would be forgiven for thinking this was the first instalment. And that it was on PSone.
But it's our old friend Mr Camera who really ruins things. In the PSP version you had to fiddle about with the shoulder buttons and the auto lock-on system, but with a bit of practice things worked out all right. You'd think the camera in the PS2 game would work fine what with the extra analogue stick. It doesn't. It jerks about, sometimes swinging wildly in the wrong direction for no good reason. Frequently it appears to have not the slightest idea of what you might want to look at and will focus on a random bit of scenery, or the floor.
When running about, you frequently have to reposition the camera with the right stick so you can see where you're going. Pressing the L1 button is supposed to centre it behind you, but sometimes it just makes the character turn round while the camera stays in the same position.
When involved in combat, you frequently have to go AARGH AARGH I HATE YOU WHY WHY and start again from the last checkpoint. The camera seems to enjoy going particularly bananas during intense battles. It whirls about in whatever direction it pleases, having a lovely time while you struggle to regain control with the right stick and shoot enemies you can't even see with the left. At best, the rubbish camera makes playing the game a chore; at worst, it makes for an incredibly frustrating experience.
It's a great shame to have to write that. Frustrating is not a word applicable to any of the other R&C games. Much of what made them enjoyable is present in Size Matters. There's a wide selection of weapons and gadgets, almost all of them great fun to use. Collecting bolts and upgrades is as addictive as always. There's plenty of variety and loads of mini-games, if some are poor quality (the hoverboard races, for example, are just as terrible as they were in the PSP game).
The multiplayer modes are basic and tedious but then Ratchet & Clank was never about multiplayer, apart from playing life-for-a-life-level-for-a-level with a dear friend and a large bottle of Smirnoff which is how I have spent approximately 357 evenings of my life. Having spent enough time with Size Matters to know I wouldn't be wasting any more evenings or Smirnoff on it, I wanted to make sure my memories of the original PS2 games were accurate. Perhaps they too suffered from ugly visuals and insane cameras, but the glorious PS3 instalment had made me forget all that.
Nope. Within minutes of booting up Ratchet & Clank 2: Locked and Loaded it all came blamming back. More than four years and a whole console cycle on the game is still great. It looks and feels incredibly fluid compared to Size Matters, and much faster. It's much easier to bound and blast your way through levels, swinging a wrench which doesn't feel nearly as clunky as the new one. And the bloody camera works.
So if you've never played a Ratchet & Clank game, do, but don't make it this one. It's still better than a lot of the rubbish out there but it's nowhere near as good as the other games in the series, and you can pick those up second-hand for less than a fiver each. Then there's the superb PS3 game, of course. Even fans of the series will be disappointed by Size Matters. If you're a real completist, try the PSP version. Alternatively, just play the old ones again. Speaking of which, must get on.