Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal Updated Online Impressions
We get another look at the online functionality in Insomniac's ambitious third entry in its PlayStation 2 series.
While we've already had the opportunity to try out Insomniac's third entry in its Ratchet & Clank franchise, Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal, including its online mode, Sony has sent over a new online-enabled version of the game with two new maps for us to check out. This version of the game is actually the public beta that Sony and Insomniac have been testing out with consumers in order to fine-tune the game. Always happy to mess around with the game, especially when laser-wielding robots are involved, we took some time to see how Ratchet and Clank's first online outing is coming along.
The online demo we're playing offers two maps, Hoven Gorge and Outpost X12, and these maps use a siege-mode style of play that's a little like capture the flag. Both maps are large enough that they cater toward the max number of eight players. You'll find a good array of weapons to use, although the full complement of weapons from the game isn't on hand for the obvious reasons of balance. We've seen plenty of wacky Ratchet & Clank-style weapons, such as the blitz gun, gravity bomb, mini-rocket tube, lava gun, flux rifle, mine glove, and even the infamous sheepinator, which, as you might guess, will turn your foes into sheep. Yep, this is definitely Ratchet & Clank.
Furthermore, the multiplayer portion will have controllable vehicles like the turbo slider, which is a flimsy little jeep of sorts that can't take much damage but moves pretty quickly. Like with all the vehicles in the game, two players can jump into the turbo slider, one as a driver and one to man the rotating turret gun. There were even some gadgets to play with, such as the gravity boots, which let us walk on the ceiling. Other items include the charge boots, which jet you over the ground for a short period; the holoshield, which generates small shields to protect other players or objects; and the swingshot, which is essentially a grappling hook you can launch at preset grapple points.
Even that's not the end of the wacky little gameplay elements we saw in the online beta. There was a team of small robots that we could call to our service (along with a "charge!" sort of bugle call), and these four little defenders would follow us around and shoot at any hostile forces in our path. Further, our base was stocked with bigger robots who laid the smack down on any opposing team members who had the audacity to step into our abode.
When playing a game you'll be able to choose your team--either red or blue--and set your appearance. Of course, since this is a Ratchet & Clank title, you'll get plenty of humor and personality that can reflect in your choice of character. The game will offer a plethora of player models for you to use in a match--besides Ratchet, we saw models for the thug, ninja, tyrrhanoid, blarg, and even snowman characters. We had a lot of fun running around as a small robot, which fit in well with the theme of the game.
Before you hop online for the first time you'll have to go through the requisite motions and create a profile for yourself that includes your network configuration as well as your name in the game. Once that's sorted you'll hop on and find yourself in the online play menu. The menu will have several options, most of which are pretty standard. A quick-play option drops you into a game based on ranking and skill level. The find-game option lets you perform a search through the available games for the kind of match you want. You'll be able to filter the search by a number of different parameters. Game type will let you select one of three options: city, city challenge, and clan. Searching by city will let you find games being played in the city you specify. City challenge will let you pick a game wherein one city is challenging another. Finally, clan lets you find a game being played by clans, map will let you find a game being played on the map of your choice, and max players will let you look for games with the number of players you specify.
"The city option in the online menu has an interesting twist. When you're setting up your profile, you can choose to pick real-world cities or locales from the Ratchet & Clank universe. When you go into the city option, you'll be able to find a game in your city or create a new one. You'll be able to check out the current games in your city and get more information on them, such as the game's stats and the number of players that are currently playing. You'll also be able to chat with other players in the room via text chat, as well as check out their screen names and info (and add them as buddies, if you wish).
Speaking of buddies, the buddy option in Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal will let you sort through your buddy list and check out the information on people on the list. You'll also be able to perform standard maintenance functions such as adding, removing, or ignoring buddies. A recent-players option lets you review a list of screen names of people you've played with recently, and you can choose to add them to your buddy list or clan.
As far as clans go, Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal will include a clan option that lets you create a clan. To support your group, Insomniac has included private rooms where you can chat with your clan, as well as create and play games. Although the room works basically the same as the cities option, access to the room is limited to the members of your clan. The room will have a space for clan messages to be read and posted. Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal will also offer a stats screen that will let you check out stats for other players and clans. You'll be able to customize this screen and select which stats you want to see and then sort through them.
When creating your own game you'll find a solid array of options to start up a game to suit your tastes. Once you name your game you'll be able to pick the map, choose the number of players (up to eight), and decide how many of those player slots will be reserved for buddies or clan members. You can choose to make your game a city challenge match against a rival town. You'll also be able to set how many players will be able to join, and you can set a password that players joining your game must enter in order to be allowed in.
So far, it seems like the multiplayer mode in Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal is shaping up to be both whimsical and truly competitive. We're looking forward to trying out more of the game's online component (not to mention the core single-player game), and we'll be back with more details and media on this and future builds of the game soon.
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