The holiday season is always a big time for videogames, and this year is no exception. Interestingly enough though, all of the major titles that have come out are sequels to popular franchises. “Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal” is yet another follow-up vying for gamers’ dollars during this busy time of year. Amazingly, the latest installment of the popular action-platforming series is a fresh and engaging experience for the third year in a row. There’s still a tremendous amount of life left in the furry warrior Ratchet and his robotic companion Clank.

The plot of the single-player game doesn’t break any new ground, as the evil “robot supremacist,” Dr. Nefarious, is trying to destroy much of the galaxy. Once again, Ratchet and Clank, with a little help from their friends, travel from planet to planet to stop Nefarious and his henchmen. The game’s story is well-told through some entertaining cut scenes and has its tongue firmly planted in cheek.

The games action and platforming elements don’t break any new ground, but that’s not entirely a bad thing. The “Ratchet & Clank” series has always been about collecting a variety of weapons and blowing up everything that stands in the way. Gamers who are familiar with the past two games will certainly know the drill, and even though the play mechanics haven’t changed much, the mindless action is still quite involving. There’s also some depth to be found in how one approaches the game, as Ratchet can gain experience to level up his health the more he fights and make his weapons more powerful.

While the single-player mode offers its fair share of enjoyment, there is more to be found in the multiplayer mode. Up to four players can compete in several different modes, which can be a bit frenzied given all the game’s weapons and items. It also features impeccable online multiplayer support — available only with a broadband connection — which allows players to fight it out online, complete with voice chat and the ability to join or create a clan. Plenty of effort by the developers has gone into the multiplayer mode.

The game’s visuals are outstanding and vibrant, perfectly bringing the game’s intergalactic worlds to life. With bright colors and sharp lighting, the game’s visuals should be considered showpiece material for the Playstation 2, right alongside the “Metal Gear Solid” sequels. The game’s sounds are also robust, with decent music to complement the various stages and immersing sound effects that highlight all the action and gun-blazing. The controls are remarkably solid and responsive as well, which makes controlling characters a breeze. A nice addition to this third installment is the ability to play the game from a first-person perspective, which makes the game feel a bit more like a first-person shooter.

Once again, Sony has delivered a solid gaming experience that does not disappoint. “Ratchet & Clank” has now proven itself to be one of the rare franchises that is able to sustain itself year after year — not an easy task. Fans of the action genre and multiplayer games will certainly want to invest in the duo’s latest adventure, and if the two decide to return again next year, chances are good that their next adventure will be just as great — if not better.

 

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

 

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