is a massive change of direction for the series. Nearly all of the story and platforming elements have been removed, making way for a more multiplayer oriented game similar to Epic’s Unreal Championship 2
on the Xbox. Still, for a game that builds itself for multiplayer, it does a pretty good job of crafting a fun single-player experience that doesn’t feel like the shallow, slapped-together mess seen in other games of this type.
The single-player Story mode begins with the disappearance of several of the galaxies’ greatest heroes. Ratchet and Clank soon discover that the heroes are being kidnapped and forced to compete in the galaxies’ most popular, and deadliest, game show: Dreadzone. This discovery leads the duo to the Shadow Sector, the roughest region of space, to confront media mogul Gleeman Vox, the show’s producer. While en route, the duos’ ship is hijacked and the two are taken hostage. Given Ratchet’s status as a hero, and Dreadzone’s lagging ratings due to the unpopularity of its current champion, Ace Hardlight, he is forced by Vox to compete in the game show. And, in order to make sure Ratchet complies, both he and Clank are fitted with deadlock collars that can be remotely detonated if the wearer ever becomes uncooperative or boring.
As you can see, even though the game takes a different approach to gameplay, the series’ trademark humor is still there. This helps to tie Deadlocked in with the previous three games as well as giving the single-player game, which can admittedly get a little stale at times, the added boost it needs to stay enjoyable. Fans of the series can expect to see numerous references to past games, especially during the Vox News Network’s “publicity” that takes Ratchet’s past and adds that nice bit of spin we’ve all come to expect from our major news networks.
Deadlocked is a much smaller, and shorter, game than previous installments. Each planet features a giant map that is then split up into smaller chunks making up each challenge. One challenge may have Ratchet capturing nodes to unlock a door while in the next, he’ll go through the doors and take on another challenge. Breaking up the levels makes sense in the game, though it does detract from the experience and kills the organic flow of each campaign. While it does have a few advantages (especially in later missions where you’ll find yourself hanging onto a sliver of life and no ammo), I would have liked to quickly transition between areas.
At certain points during each challenge, Ratchet will also be able to use vehicles like the Landstalker tank and a Hover Jet. These areas offer something a little different to the game and help to break up some of the monotony of performing the same few matches multiple times.
Many of the challenges Ratchet faces in the single-player game make up the multiplayer mode, which is really what the game is built for in the first place. Deadlocked includes both offline and online variations of traditional multiplayer match types like Deathmatch and Capture the Flag. One of the better multiplayer modes is the improved Siege mode that takes the node-capturing mechanic used in UYA and builds a small, objective-based “story” around it. As each team performs actions on the field, they earn points. The team with the highest score wins.
Overall, the online experience is enjoyable. Action is faster than normal multiplayer games and the unique array of weapons available helps the game to stand out among other multiplayer games coming out this year on the PS2.