Platformers have been a genre that has been around since the beginning of gaming itself. Pitfall Harry is one of the first platforming characters and ever since then we've been graced with Sonic, Mario, Crash Bandicoot and hundreds more. Three year's ago Insomniac (who previously developed Spyro The Dragon) started a new platforming franchise with Ratchet and Clank, which focused on a dynamic duo who were fighting crime on different planets. Over the past few years the series has evolved and rather than being a strict platformer, the game is best described as an action adventure game. Any developer that releases three titles in three years must be on to something, but is Ratchet and Clank 3: Up Your Arsenal! more of the same, or have Insomniac succeded once more?
In terms of the single player mode there haven't been many changes since Ratchet and Clank Locked and Loaded in 2003. Insomniac have gone as far as adding larger environments and boosting up the number of gadgets that Ratchet and Clank have at their disposal. There are also simple RPG elements added to the game, so you've got a lot more choice as you go through the single player mode.
The biggest addition to the game is the fully fledged multiplayer mode. Insomniac haven't just done a half-assed (pardon the pun) multiplayer mode, they have created a fully fledged death match style multiplayer option that is deep, and choosing between playing multiplayer or the single player mode is a seriously difficult decision.
The multiplayer mode has numerous options, such as capture the flag, deathmatch and siege mode, the latter is the highlight of the multiplayer package and encourages players to take over territories to gain complete control of a level. It's a unique option that is the icing on the top for the multiplayer options.
Insomniac have also broken up the single player mode with a few mini games, which are all high class and really play out better than we had anticipated. There is a 2D platforming game, which pays homage to the past (and is probably the closest you're going to get if you're after platforming elements in the game) as well as turret busting missions. The variety of the missions is to be commended, and stops the game from becoming repetitive.
Whilst the gameplay is pretty much perfected when playing online or offline, the game still remains fairly linear. The environments are big, but there is only one real way to go through them. It is possible to go through the levels once completing them and discover things you didn't know were there, but overall it's still a linear title. During most of the levels there is an insane amount happening on screen, and we noticed absolutely no slowdown at all, which shows that the Playstation 2 still has some graphical ability left in it yet. It's actually surprising that so much is happening on screen (and in the background) at once and there is no slowdown at all.
The environments are large as well, and play a large part in immersing you in the actual game, as the environments actually make you feel like you're in a living, breathing world, rather than a cheap platformer. All of the characters look great, and the special effects in the game look better than ever.
The soundtrack in the game is surprisingly decent for a platformer as well. Insomniac have also put a lot of effort into the voice acting, and not only do all of the characters sound great, Captain Quark in particular is pretty humourous and his comments don't become repetitive either, so a lot of effort appears to have been put in to make the characters sound great, and it has definitely paid off.
Lifespan wise the game the single player campaign is the largest out of the three titles and lasts in excess of twenty hours. There is a bit of back tracking required towards the end of the adventure, but by the time you have to backtrack you've all but forgotten the previous levels.
Ratchet and Clank Up Your Arsenal! is one of the finest platforming / action adventure titles ever developed. The single player campaign doesn't offer too much innovation from the series' predecessors, but the gameplay is so perfectly tuned now that there isn't too much that Insomniac need to do to improve the series.
The multiplayer is a stand out feature and is what sets the game apart from other titles in the genre. This is one of the first times that Insomniac have attempted to put multiplayer into one of their titles and they have succeeded wholeheartedly. If you're a fan of the series then there is simply no excuse to pick this game up.
Ratchet and Clank Up Your Arsenal is also available now at a ridiculous price point of $29.95, even though the new game is out in a mere three weeks it is still worth picking this game up, as it is likely to keep you entertained up until and beyond when Ratchet: Gladiator is out.