July 2003

Once again the wheel lands on Pic to do the week in review. As some of you know I put my own twist on things when it comes to articles I post. Whether it be a political satire, rant, or even the cold hard facts, I strive to bring you the very best from the underbelly of the video game world. So as we delve into our wonderful industry and prepare to present you with gaming news I would like to remind you that I am not the news guy at Snackbar. I am the artist and the A

Every once in a while a game will come along that makes me thankful that Cone and I didn’t trade in our PS2. Ratchet and Clank is one of those games. With a good recommendation from our favorite EB Games in Huebner Oaks, we bought Ratchet and Clank on a Friday. By that Sunday, it was all I was playing in my spare time. I was hooked. It was the cute little cat guy (Ratchet) and his tiny robot sidekick (Clank) that caught my attention, but it was the game play and the graphics that kept me going, and it was the imaginative and beautiful worlds that I was taken to that made me fall in love with this little PS2 game from 2002.

Glove Bomb to the rescue

As most of you know I am a fan of platform games, from Donkey Kong 64 to Jak and Daxter, I can’t pass on a chance to play a good platform game. Ratchet and Clank takes every preconceived notion of what should be involved in a platform game and takes it to the next level and then some. Insomniac Studios took what could have been a regular old action platform game and added elements of an adventure game, puzzle solving and strategy, and even racing. It is all blended together so beautifully each new planet you visit you experience a new aspect of the game. Okay, so now that I have ranted and raved about the game I’ll break it down a little more for you so that this actually turns into a review not just “Dots loves this game.”

As I have said before, every aspect of this game is put together in a way that I was unfamiliar with on the PS2. The story is no exception. You start off with the chance meeting of Ratchet, a young adult-ish alien cat like guy who is currently trying to fix his spaceship and Clank, a mishap from the evil lab of the evil Chairman Drek, who is the super villain who is trying to steal aspects of whole planets to build his people a new planet to live on, as he has used all the resources and over populated his. Clank explains to Ratchet that they must find Captain Quark (the Buzz Lightyear type superhero in their solar system) and save the day. Ratchet is only convinced when Clank points out that the only thing missing from his ship is the navigation robot, which he just happens to know how to do. The dynamic duo then goes through many perilous adventures flying from planet and planet meeting many a colorful character.

Burninating the countryside*

Each planet that they go to is vastly different from the one before it. Insomniac created these beautiful sci-fi worlds that make you want to explore each nook and cranny just to see what lies ahead. In the Metropolis city I literally wanted to walk into each and every building to see what kind of business was taking place, but unfortunately they didn’t put that much detail into the game. The graphics in R&C are outstanding for a PS2 game. The colors, the sharpness, the attention to detail; it is all wonderful. Another detail they played off of really well was the soundtrack to each of the levels. Letting you know when you should be scared or just running around, the fun sci-fi movie music just set the mood that much more. Aside from Halo, I don’t think I have ever really felt like I was really at the places I was playing in a video game.

Grind shoes in action

The thing that I think that I enjoyed the most about R&C is that it started out relatively easy so that I progressed further into the game and got hooked, but as the games went on the challenges and missions got harder and harder; sometimes to the point of severe frustration. But overall, the progressive nature of the game is something I think a lot of today’s games lack. Another aspect of the game that made it relatively easy to play was the controls. They were simple. There are not real complex combos to learn or moves to master. It was jump, attack, fire weapon, etc. Don’t get me wrong, Ratchet can do some really cool moves, but it is a matter of moving the joystick and jumping in one direction. Simple. And in some small miracle, this PS2 game actually has a camera that doesn’t annoy the hell out of me. Again, they kept it simple.

Go go gadget arm

Overall, I think that Ratchet and Clank is one of the best games that I have played in a long time. It is tied for my favorite PS2 game now with Kingdom Hearts. I don’t think that I can praise it much more. I think that the whole review almost escaped the bitter sarcasm that is usually present in most things that I do…

To conclude in a very simple way; if you like platform games, have a PS2, a brain, and some time to spare (cause you won’t be able to put it down once you start) BUY RATCHET AND CLANK. Now. Seriously, why are you still reading this? Get in your car and drive to your nearest store and buy it. I’ll see you in a while when you finally put the control down. Really, it’s that good. Hell, I’ll make it super easy for you and put a link to EB Games so you can sit on your butt and have it come to you.

* The original caption for that picture was “Flamethrower-ed”, but after discussing it over with Dots, Burninating the countryside was just too funny to pass up.

Want a piece of my wrench?

Grind shoes revisited

Little Clank shot goin on


Games and pop culture go hand in hand as our industry pries into
the lives of the young. I grew up with ninja turtles and wrestling,
so you can bet I had TMNT the game and WWF Wrestlemania for the
NES. Nowadays games are actually inspiring pop culture. This is
the case with busty video game cover girl Lara Croft. Lara stormed
onto the video game scene with Tomb Raider and since has been the
self-proclaimed first lady of gaming. Whether it is her figure,
or the appeal of the actual game, Lara is huge, both literally and
figuratively. Lara has inspired calendars, comics and even two full
motion pictures. It was only a matter time that she stepped into
the world of next gen consoles with her arrival on the PS2. Unfortunately
for us the effort was in vain as Lara Croft Angel of Darkness is
a weak effort and weaker game.


The problems start very soon. Your first level of course is a training
level to get you acquainted with the control and familiarize yourself
with how the game is played. Problem here is I cannot imagine having
to play the whole game with the controls as they are. The lack of
response from the controls is beyond terrible. As a matter of fact
there almost is no response from the controls you input. You may
find yourself checking to see if the controller is plugged in and
sadly, it is. Moving Lara about is almost torture as her motions
are stiff at best. As you all should know the previous Tomb Raiders
are about running, jumping,climbing puzzles and the likes. Same
holds true with Angel of Darkness, however running to gap a ledge
will quickly become the last adventure our heroine makes. You will
press the jump button only for Lara to just keep running right off
a four-story building to her voluptuous death.

Can I stop playing now?

The level designs do nothing to lead the player through the stages.
You do not know which doors you can or can’t open, which ledges
you can or can’t grab, or even which rails you can or can’t jump
over. You will fall victim to the “invisible wall” when
trying to jump over small rails that, in the last level, you could
jump over. I guess the player is not meant to go over there; heaven
forbid exploration in a game entitled Tomb Raider.

I hate this game

I hate the PS2 as it has been the bane in my side as far as console
gaming, and had it not been for Squaresoft, I would not own one.
The game looks like Vaseline was smeared on the inside of my television
set. Lara herself is really the only thing that looks ok. The textures
very, how do you say, PS2 like. Also don’t hope for too much going
on at one time, the game likes to s
w down to a crawl when the
rain comes. Strange, I know but what do you expect from a game that
sucks on a console that sucks more.

Finally I can stop talking about it, this is the last paragraph

There is not much more to say. I was very unimpressed by everything
I saw, and uninspired to really even go any further with the game.
I was anxious to play as the new playable character, however his
levels come later in the game, and I was not about to stick around
for that. I equate playing this game much like getting a root canal.
This game is terrible in every facet. Sorry Eidos, sorry Lara, but
thanks for wasting my time. Don’t even bother with this one, do
not rent, do not buy, hell don’t even play it on a dare. (edit 3 days after post: I just want to say once more that this game fucking is so damn terrible…really, its that bad.)