The ‘PSP exclusive’ release of Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters in 2007 was the destructive duo’s very first foray into the realm of handheld gaming, and as such received a very warm reception. One year later - and no longer quite so exclusive, it has been ported over to the PS2 and we were keen to see if history would repeat itself.
The game begins with our heroes enjoying some long overdue R&R at a tropical beach resort, when a young female fan pesters them for some photographs. Shortly after they oblige, she is kidnapped – whisked off-planet by a bunch of robot bully boys, and leaves behind a mysterious artifact. At this point any sensible hero would weigh up the pros and cons; whether to risk life and limb (again), gallivanting across the galaxy to rescue one obnoxious little kid, or drink a few more pina coladas on the beach as you work on your tan? It seems like a no-brainer, but hey, we are talking Ratchet & Clank here. Time to pack away that deck chair… or better still, smash it into smithereens and gather up those precious bolts!
Controls and gameplay follow the tried and true Ratchet & Clank formula, which makes it easy for fans of the series to pick up and play. This time around Ratchet has a couple of extra moves, such as the long jump and the high jump, and of course there are some new weapons and armour to acquaint yourself with, such as the concussion gun and customisable armour components. Ratchet can also use his trusty wrench as a missile weapon, if you feel so inclined.
As per usual, defeating enemies and busting up anything which isn’t nailed down will result in scatterings of collectible bolts which can be traded in for new weapons and upgrades. Clank gets his fifteen minutes (literally) of fame, rising above his usual position of backpack-cum-sidekick to that of playable character. We found this to be a refreshing addition and hope to see a lot more of him in future Ratchet & Clank titles.
Level design is pretty good, if a little shorter than we’ve come to expect. This was all well and good for the smaller PSP, but it definitely loses some impact in translation. There is a limited multiplayer option plus a few puzzle elements thrown in to provide a change of scenery from the ubiquitous single-player destruction and mayhem that is synonymous with the Ratchet and Clank series.
One aspect of the game which needs to be mentioned is the occasionally unpredictable in-game camera, which has a disconcerting tendency to skew wildly - usually in the midst of a battle and almost always to the player’s detriment, before you can regain your bearings and finish off those low-life enemies who got in a few sneaky hits while you weren’t looking. While this wasn’t a regular occurrence, it did happen often enough to prove a source of frustration.
Graphics are pretty enough and typically colourful, although lacking the ‘wow’ factor of previous Ratchet & Clank titles. We observed the odd framerate stutter, which was also present but less obvious in the PSP version. This is more likely to be noticed by fans of the series, but if Size Matters is your first Ratchet & Clank experience you will probably find the visuals pleasant but light on stage presence. Likewise the audio, while decent enough, is hardly memorable. As per usual it is the cut scenes with their witty dialogue which provide the highlights, serving to progress the story and inject a little of that trademark humour into the game.
In summary Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters for PS2 is exactly the same game as last year’s lauded PSP version; unfortunately it just didn’t translate well to the big screen. So, yes: size definitely matters, but in this particular case, bigger is not necessarily better.