Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando is the second installment in the Ratchet & Clank series developed by Insomniac Games and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment. It was initially released in November 2003 for the PlayStation 2, and was re-released for PlayStation 3 in June 2012 and PlayStation Vita in July 2014, both alone and as part of the Ratchet & Clank Collection.
The game follows Ratchet and Clank, who after defeating Chairman Drek in the conclusion of the previous release, are recruited by MegaCorp's CEO, Abercrombie Fizzwidget, and taken to the Bogon Galaxy. While Clank is given an apartment on planet Endako, Ratchet is trained to work as a commando, tasked to locate a thief who has taken a biological experiment. The two later realize that the operation is not all as it seems, and must work to save the galaxy from the Protopet menace.
While the core third person action adventure gameplay is similar to the previous entry, Going Commando features notably more role playing game elements, allowing players to upgrade both their nanotech (health) and weapons by defeating enemies, and given them more weapons and armor to purchase at vendors with collected bolts. There are also many more challenges, such as gladiator battles and hoverbike races, that they can participate in to earn bolts (or alternatively raritanium to upgrade their ship). Players are still required to complete objectives on planets to unlock new planets or to obtain gadgets required to complete other objectives and progress the story.
Going Commando is a third person three dimensional action game with elements of platforming, shooting and role playing, in which the player controls Ratchet, a lombax mechanic trained as a MegaCorp commando, with a broad arsenal of weapons and gadgets, who carries his sidekick Clank as a backpack allowing him to make use of the Heli-Pack and Thruster Pack. In addition to his core moveset, Ratchet can now also strafe by holding or (or holding or on Vita), allowing him to more easily aim weapons. Ratchet obtains a wide range of upgradeable weapons to combat enemies and gadgets to traverse the environment to complete objectives.
Ratchet and Clank travel between planets of the Bogon galaxy on their customizable ship, completing a set of objectives to obtain co-ordinates for the next planet (with a cutscene for each planet unlocked). Objectives often require the player to traverse through a linear section on a planet, in which they must defeat enemies on the way and use gadgets to complete a puzzle, before reaching their goal.
Other times, they may instead participate in gladiator battles in Galactic Gladiators or MegaCorp Games; obtain Desert Crystals on Tabora or Moonstones on Grelbin; compete in hoverbike racing on Barlow or in the MegaCorp Games; or to fly their ship to complete an objective. These minigames also reoccur in side objectives, which can be completed to earn bolts, used to purchase new weapons or armor. The player can also obtain platinum bolts, nanotech boosts, and various other hidden weapons, as well as earn skill points.
After completing the main storyline, the player can choose to warp back to before defeating the final boss to complete remaining side objectives, or to proceed to challenge mode. Challenge mode allows the player to keep their weapons with the option to purchase Mega versions of their weapons, which are then upgradeable to Ultra weapons with use, and wield them against much more powerful versions of enemies. As these weapons are much more expensive, challenge mode has a bolt multiplier for enemies that were destroyed before Ratchet takes a hit.
Ratchet begins with four units of nanotech, representing his health. This is increased by defeating enemies over time and earning enough EXP to earn another unit. Up to 70 units can be earned purely by defeating enemies, which can be increased to a maximum of 80 if the player obtains all nanotech boosts scattered throughout planets. Additionally, the player can purchase armor, which reduces the damage Ratchet takes from enemies, to improve durability.
Going Commando features 24 weapons, of which 19 are original, and 5 reappear from Ratchet & Clank (and can be obtained for free on planet Barlow if the player has a Ratchet & Clank save file). The Lancer and Gravity Bomb are available immediately for free, while all others are either purchased from vendors with bolts or discovered on planets. The Clank Zapper and Zodiac can only be purchased in challenge mode, and the RYNO II can only be purchased from the Gadgetron vendor on Barlow until challenge mode when it is available everywhere. All weapons, aside from the RYNO II, Zodiac, and reoccurring Ratchet & Clank weapons can be upgraded with use to unlock a more powerful version, though aside from the Lava Gun, their functionality does not change heavily. Once upgraded, these weapons can be upgraded with use again to Ultra versions if their Mega version is purchased in challenge mode. Mega versions can be purchased for the reoccurring Ratchet & Clank weapons, though they cannot be upgraded to Ultra.
The game features 13 gadgets, of which 6 are original. The Heli-Pack, Hydro-Pack and Thruster Pack reappear from Ratchet & Clank and are automatically owned by Clank, though the Heli-Pack and Thruster Pack are functionally identical in Going Commando, while the Grind Boots and Swingshot can be found. With the exception of the Charge Boots, all the remaining gadgets are required to progress further into the game and can be earned by completing objectives (though four objectives must be completed to obtain the full Hypnomatic and construct it).
On two occasions, the player controls Clank, who has only four nanotech units and cannot earn more. Clank has a limited moveset, though he can control Microbots which feature various commands. In addition to the basic Microbots which can attack, wait, follow Clank and enter terminals, Clank can also control the Bridgebot, Hammerbot and Lifterbot, all of which are required to guide the Microbots through new areas to complete the objective.
Two other occasions allow Clank to transform into Giant Clank, who can fly through space, fire missiles and throw bombs at enemies. These segments require the player to fly to a moon as Giant Clank, control him and defeat a boss and its minions to complete the objective, and unlike normal Clank segments, can be repeated as many times as the player chooses.
Vehicles and minigames
Many minigames involve the player piloting vehicles. On Barlow or in the MegaCorp Games, Ratchet must compete in hoverbike races to earn prizes, which allow him to race the hoverbike which can use weapon or speed boosts earned on the track against other hoverbikes. In four different locations, Ratchet must pilot a ship, upgradeable in Slim Cognito's Ship Shack with raritanium, to destroy certain targets or race against other pilots. Finally, on Tabora and Yeedil, Ratchet can pilot a mining ship once found and use it to mine raritanium from the planet's surface.
Going Commando takes place in the Bogon Galaxy. The galaxy is populated primarily by sentient humanoid robots, but also by various other alien species. Urban planets, such as Endako, Notak, Boldan and Damosel appear more technologically advanced and esthetically cleaner than those in the Solana Galaxy from the previous title. However, Bogon is also home to more sparsely populated planets, such as the barren wastelands of Barlow and Tabora; the icy worlds of Grelbin, Siberius, and Yeedil; and the swamps of Oozla.
Bogon is dominated by MegaCorp, a large corporation run by Abercrombie Fizzwidget which owns properties on almost every planet visited. They operate within a large number of industries, producing weapons, gadgets, vehicles, sporting events, tourist trips, and biological pets. MegaCorp also has its own robotic army, and employs and trains commandos, including Ratchet. While Gadgetron used to operate in the galaxy, it was largely driven away by MegaCorp, and as no other competitors are seen in the galaxy, it can be assumed MegaCorp have a monopoly of the industries they operate in. Aside from MegaCorp, Bogon is home to the mercenary group Thugs 4 Less, which offers to kill targets for the highest bidder, but can only work for one employer at a time. The Thugs are also hoverbikers, and compete in racing events.
- “ So, you need me to go on a dangerous mission in another galaxy? ”
- ―Ratchet discussing the mission with Abercrombie Fizzwidget. [GC]
After defeating Ultimate Supreme Executive Drek, the duo Ratchet and Clank, rested on Ratchet's home on Veldin. Nearly a year after their previous adventure, they appeared in an interview for a Holo-Vision show called Behind the Hero. While in a break between filming this interview, they were teleported to the Bogon Galaxy by the founder and CEO of MegaCorp, a man by the name of Abercrombie Fizzwidget. It appeared that a masked "dupliferous criminal mastermind" had stolen MegaCorp's most valuable experiment: a cute blue fuzzball.
Clank was reluctant to partake in another adventure, so while he retired to a complimentary apartment in the city of Megapolis on planet Endako, Ratchet attempted to save the experiment from the Thief. The Thief hired Thugs-4-Less for assistance protection. The thief also kidnapped Clank, forcing Ratchet to come to his rescue. Upon his rescue, Clank went along with Ratchet.
Ratchet confronted the thief on planet Siberius, defeating her and reclaiming the experiment. The duo returned it to Mr. Fizzwidget shortly afterwards. After Mr. Fizzwidget "accidentally" ejected the duo from his ship, Ratchet and Clank climbed through a desert cave and were confronted by the thief who demanded the return of the experiment. During this demand, the thief accidentally fell off her ship, knocking off her mask and revealing that she was Angela Cross. Angela, a former MegaCorp employee, warned Ratchet that the experiment would ultimately doom the galaxy.
On planet Dobbo, Ratchet and Clank discovered that Angela's claims were true, and tried to persuade Fizzwidget to destroy the experiment, but their efforts were in vain. The duo then stumbled across an ad for the experiment, now known as the "Protopet," which was being cloned and prepared for mass release. At that point, it was revealed that Thugs-4-Less terminated its contract with Angela and had been hired by MegaCorp to "protect" Mr. Fizzwidget.
On planet Boldan, Ratchet and Clank were captured for "attempting to bump off" Mr. Fizzwidget. They were sent to a prison on planet Aranos. While in the prison, with help from his female Infobot admirer, Clank escaped and freed Ratchet. They immediately headed to Thugs-4-Less HQ to free Angela, who was also captured by the thugs. The duo vanquished the thug leader and freed Angela. Eventually, the three of them went to MegaCorp HQ in order to put a definitive end to the Protopet menace.
After they went there, the female Infobot revealed that Qwark, the disgraced superhero from Ratchet & Clank (2002 game), was using the Protopets to restore his reputation. Fizzwidget appeared and destroyed her, and in a surprising plot twist, Fizzwidget was actually Qwark in disguise. Qwark then took Ratchet, Clank, and Angela prisoner and claimed in front of a live camera that they were the cause of this menace, and that he would be able to stop the Protopets using Angela's Helix-O-Morph. However, the Helix-O-Morph malfunctioned and mutated the Protopet into a giant Monster, eating Qwark and the gadget before escaping. When Ratchet finally defeated the mutated Protopet, Clank discovered that the cause of the malfunction was a set of batteries inserted backwards. Angela vanquished the wily Protopets across the galaxy by sending the gadget's beam through the HV signals, pacifying all of the creatures. The real Fizzwidget (who uses English words properly, unlike Qwark who simply said big words to make himself sound smart) was then revealed to have been trapped in a closet by Qwark.
Ratchet, Clank, Angela, and Clank's Infobot admirer are all shown talking in Clank's apartment while Qwark is shown at his new job as a MegaCorp test dummy for gadgets such as the Crotchitizer.
A sequel for Ratchet & Clank was approved for development five months prior to it being shipped, due to Sony's confidence in its success. Visual concepts for Going Commando were being developed as early as August 2002, while the team was still polishing Ratchet & Clank. The team began conceptualizing a set of "Big Ideas" for the sequel, which resulted primarily in the RPG elements (along with spherical worlds and space combat), and then began to improve their technology to expand the scope of the gameplay and the script. Their primary goal was making the game feel drastically different to other games that were on the market.
Development lasted eight months, with the team beginning at 40 members and doubling to 80.
Going Commando was fully story driven as with the previous title, given the developers more than an hour of scripts to be written, recorded, edited and fully animated within eight months. One common criticism of the original Ratchet & Clank was the design and personality of Ratchet, which the team addressed by making him more friendly to Clank, less impetuous in stressful situations, and less cocky. This also led to changing the voice actor for Ratchet from Mikey Kelley to James Arnold Taylor. Captain Qwark was a late addition to the story, introduced as the team began to miss Qwark's comic relief from the first game in the form of "Behind the Heroes" segments, and later ob the team decided to make Qwark the main villain.
When brainstorming ideas for major new gameplay elements, the team settled on RPG elements in the form of weapon and health upgrades, spherical worlds, and space combat.
The team created a solid list of weapons, and narrowed it down by combining those too similar to weapons in Ratchet & Clank and those that would take an unrealistic amount of work (including an idea that would later become the Groovitron seen in future games, and an idea for the Gravity Bomb creating a black hole that would later be seen as the Rift Inducer), and after prototyping, narrowed their range by removing weapons that were less fun in practice to a set of options they were proud of. Key emphasis was placed on weapon upgrades, which the team believed would give the game a different flavor to many other games on the market. The team discussed often the idea of allowing the player to switch back to the previous version of an upgraded weapon, though it was rejected as they believed the upgrade was significantly better functionally and players would not want to switch back.
Insomniac began to introduce challenges such as space combat, gladiator battles and hoverbike racing, which they referred to as "maxi-games". These "maxi-games" also included spherical worlds, one of their early big ideas, for which Brian Hastings of Insomniac drew inspiration from the 1943 novel The Little Prince. They began to work on separate physics for the world to account for their lighter gravity, and the ability to walk 360 degrees while never leaving the world. The worlds were originally designed for Ratchet to explore, though they later expanded the idea to Giant Clank due to its popularity from Ratchet & Clank and due to how fun Giant Clank's high jump over buildings was. Hastings of Insomniac was proud of their work as they felt the worlds felt unique, but expressed doubt that they would become "the next gimmick that every other platform game in the world will have next year".
As with Ratchet & Clank, the team were building on and optimizing technology that they had shared with Naughty Dog for their Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy engine. They greatly improved the technology for Going Commando, including revamping systems, improving effects and revamping enemy behavior. Spherical worlds were extremely challenging to program, requiring changing 50,000 lines of code to account for their separate gravity.
The soundtrack was composed by David Bergeaud, with additional music provided by Niels Bye Nielsen.
|GameRankings||90.64% (based on 71 reviews)|
|Metacritic||90 (based on 46 reviews)|
Going Commando received broadly positive reviews from critics. Many noted that, while similar to the previous game, the tweaks made and the introduction of RPG elements significantly improved it. High praise was given to the technical performance for its graphics and smooth framerate.
Reviewers praised the weaponry, with many noting that use of weaponry was not a requirement of the original game, but was in Going Commando, meaning it allowed players to better experience their broad arsenal available to them. IGN called the weapons "flat out better than the last game" due to being "less clownish" and "more traditional in form and function". GameSpy echoed these statements, and gave particular praise to the Bouncer and the Lava Gun. Many reviewers praised was given to the weapon upgrade system, with IGN stating that upgrading weapons was "half the fun" of using them, GameSpy stating that the "enhanced difficulty" and "better weapon system" kept players interested for longer, and Eurogamer praising how rewarding the system was, though criticising the Lava Gun's upgrade path. GameSpot called the upgrades "cool additions" though ones that didn't "make dramatic changes to the game".
While critics reacted positively to the inclusion of side content, they were divided on which side missions were enjoyable. There was a consensus among critics that gladiator combat was enjoyable, with GameSpy claiming that being an "interstellar gladiator" was more fun than anticipated and Game Informer noting they spent many hours playing it. However, GameSpy called the Giant Clank levels "brainless and boring", claimed the hoverbike sequences were merely "alright" while praising the space combat as "smooth and fun". Conversely, Game Informer's reviewer claimed that the space combat "got on [his] nerves", but enjoyed the speeds of the racing missions. IGN however praised all side content, stating that the arena fights, racing levels and ship levels were all "fun on their own".
Reviewers reacted positively to the story, praising its comedic aspect. Eurogamer praised the "daft story full of daft characters". GameSpot also praised the game's great "sense of humor" and described the story as "well told". However, IGN and Eurogamer noted that the story did not drive the game.
Critics noted similarities between Going Commando and its predecessors, as well as between other games on the market. GameSpy noted that these similarities still gave it a "generic blandness" that held it back from being the "ultimate platformer". GameSpot called it "largely the same as the original" and felt "more like a mission pack than an entirely new game" at times. Many critics compared Going Commando to Naughty Dog's Jak II, which was released during the same year, and Insomniac's Ted Price had stated they were "excited" to be launching alongside it. Eurogamer compared the two but stated that they didn't "share a great deal in common" due to the more RPG-like progress of Going Commando as opposed to the heavily story driven Jak II, and later concluded that they may "remember this a lot more fondly than we recall Jak II: Renegade" in the long run. IGN called it a "tough call" between the games but claimed they would pick Going Commando as the best platformer of the year, and even called it "probably" the best PlayStation 2 game of the year.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 IGN Presents The History of Ratchet & Clank p2 IGN. Retrieved April 19, 2017.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Pre-E3 Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando interview with developer Insomniac GamePro (through WebCite query). Retrieved May 26, 2017.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 4.9 Ratchet & Clank Interview: Ted Price, president of Insomniac Games GameInformer (through WebCite query). Retrieved May 26, 2017.
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2 Ted Price on Going Commando GameSpy (through WebCite query). Retrieved May 26, 2017.
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Music of the Spheres 1up (through WebCite query). Retrieved May 26, 2017.
- ↑ Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando GameRankings GameRankings. Retrieved May 27, 2017.
- ↑ Ratchet & Clank Metacritic Metacritic. Retrieved May 27, 2017.
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando Review Eurogamer. Retrieved May 27, 2017.
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 Ratchet & Clank Review Archive of GameInformer. Retrieved May 12, 2015.
- ↑ 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando Review GameSpot. Retrieved May 27, 2017.
- ↑ 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 12.6 12.7 Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando Review Archive of GameSpy. Retrieved May 27, 2017.
- ↑ 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 13.4 13.5 13.6 13.7 Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando Review IGN. Retrieved May 27, 2017.