Nut Load. Mini reviews of games old and new. No fuss. No spoilers. Occasional shock face.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Ratchet: Gladiator (2005 / 2013 in HD)

Genre: Platformer  |  Players: 1 or 2 co-op  |  Developer: Insomniac Games (original PS2 edition) / Idol Minds (PS3 port)

Prior to Gladiator (aka Ratchet: Deadlocked (NA) / Ratchet and Clank 4 (JP)), all of the HD updates I’d played had been successful, but it’s impossible to outrun the law of averages forever. It had to happen eventually. I got a shitty one.

If you received the game free because of the QForce/Full Frontal Assault (2012) delay then you can offset the cheapness somewhat, but if you bought it as a standalone entry then there’s every reason to expect a product that’s worth the price paid, particularly when Idol Minds did such a sterling job on the previous collection. Unfortunately, the reality of the situation is that the lack of care and respect that went into the conversion makes me hesitant to trust them in future.

FMV scenes are repeatedly jerky and there are times when the foreground textures go inexplicably transparent, enabling the backgrounds to be visible through them. Is the jerkiness a PAL thing? Is the NTSC version the same? I don't know. All I know is that interactions between characters during those times are an important part of the R+C experience, and they've been treated badly.

Mercifully, once you gain control of Ratchet the game works. There’s still slowdown during heated moments, but it's easy to adjust to. The only notable exception is when the game pauses you in mid-swing over a bottomless death-gap so that it can load the platform on which you're planning to land.

The arena challenges that were a small part of the previous games are the sole aspect of Gladiator. It’s not always confined to a small area, but it is essentially a series of bouts/ battles that get increasingly more challenging and frustratingly hectic as you progress. I acknowledge that a large number of people will feel the direct opposite, but I need more than just shooting/ advancing toward endless waves; the balance that was achieved in previous games was sorely missed.

Gun-fans may feel equally short-changed when it comes to the limited array of weapons available. They can level up to insane proportions but there's a lesser number to play around with than long-time players will be used to.

In a series known for OTT weaponry and ballsy humour, being underwhelming hurts more than it would otherwise; it means that it failed to do its job as well as it should have, and will hold the interest of only the most ardent or forgiving fan.

2½ ratings wars out of 5

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