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Ratchet & Clank 3: Bare Arsenal and All

The original Ratchet & Clank quickly became one of my favorite titles on the PS2, and the sequel firmly placed it as one of my favorite series of all time. When a game ranks as a near perfect on its first time out, you know its good. When it ranks as perfect on its second outing, it?s gold. But, perfection apparently wasn't enough for the guys as Insomniac because they're bringing Ratchet & Clank back for a third adventure, and this time the boys are baring their arsenals for all to see.

After saving the universe for a second time in Ratchet and Clank: Going Commando, our two heroes have returned to the easy life. Riding their wave of popularity, the duo even managed to snag themselves a TV show. However, after weeks of product testing, it was discovered that Clank's charm was what everyone really wanted -- making him the star of the show and sticking Ratchet in a cameo role which are usually reserved for B-list actors or Mark Hamill. Things soon change when Dr. Nefarious returns with his new plan to destroy all organic life in the universe. In response, the galactic president sends out a call for the man who defeated the good doctor last time, a call that throws Ratchet and Clank back into the action.

Offbeat stories and character were one of the things that made Ratchet & Clank so popular. The other was its addictive gameplay and arsenal of wacky weapons. The arsenal has been upgraded, rounding out at about 20. When compared to other games, this number may seem small, but when you factor in that 14 of the 20 will have four upgrades each, the number becomes much more impressive. Building on the system set in place in Going Commando, weapons will still gain experience points through use, but the upgrades won't redefine the weapon as much. After leveling, weapons will now retain their same uses, but will increase in range, speed and power.

The weapons available in the playable demo help to illustrate just a fraction of the firepower that will be available in the final release. One of the weapons that quickly got my attention was the Plasma Whip, which is powerful enough that it would even make old Indy proud. Just describing the destructive power of this weapon isn't enough -- but trust me, you'll really, really like it. Another weapons that gained repeated use was the Infecto-Ray, which lets Ratchet infect enemies with a shot. Once infected, enemies will begin to attack other enemies around them. At low levels the weapon's power is rather weak, but as it gains experience and powers up both the range and length of infection will increase.

Weapons won't be limited to offensive uses. Some, like the Refractor, will also be used in solving puzzles. As a weapon, the Refractor is capable of refracting an energy beam in whatever direction Ratchet is facing. One level in the demo was completely built around this mechanic and it really added a new twist to the original Ratchet & Clank formula. If you thought the puzzles in the last two games were tough, think again. The level begins by having you simply aim the beams at a marked hole in the wall, but soon mutates to involve tricks like shooting the beams around corners, guiding a spider mine with the beam and even bouncing the beam off a mirror or two.

After playing the demo the only one question comes to mind (other than when can I play the final game): Can our fancy new database system handle scores higher than 100%? If the previous games and the demos are any indication, Rathet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal will be something to look out for and an early contender for Game of the Year.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker
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