Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Superhero Media: Ratchet & Clank 2 - Going Commando

Interesting note, this game is subtitled "Locked and Loaded" in Australia; interesting because of the amount of adult-pitched humour in this game and only title ends up changed. Perhaps there is an assumption that in a less sexually-restricted culture (such as Australia in comparison to the USA) that a child is more likely to get the joke? I'm not sure, but I think about it when Clank's, unnamed, girlfriend repeatedly propositions him or when the "Hatchet and Spank" line crops up mid-game. Another point of note for this game is that it tends to get glossed-over in any retrospective of the series, possibly because it takes place in a different galaxy and none of the supporting cast (except Captain Quark) appears again. That's a shame because it is in Going Commando where Ratchet and Clank go from being a couple of friends that managed to save the galaxy to a force to be reckoned with. A couple of upgrades sees Clank be more than a glorified backpack, but Ratchet really comes into his own after he receives training in martial arts, heavy weaponry, survival skills, stealth, ballroom dancing and origami. 

Called to the "Bogon" galaxy, Ratchet and Clank are recruited by Megacorp to recover a stolen genetic experiment, only to discover that the thief was the creature's creator and the "Protopet" was a danger to all life! The second game in the series sees the introduction of elements that would become core features, such as buying armour, weapons and health upgrading with experience and gladiator-style arena battles. Two of the best weapons in the franchise, the Miniturret Glove and the Sheepanator make their debut and Captain Quark returns like he does in every damn game, because to get rid of him would be a risk for a franchise that revolves around the friendship between a gun-toting cat creature and a killbot/time lord hybrid? I know I always bitch about Quark when it comes to R&C, but by the time we get to Nexus, I just tune out his dialogue like he's an adult in the old Snoopy cartoons. Having just played this game through again a few times (challenge mode), probably the most interesting element of Going Commando is the economic structure of the Bogon Galaxy. Megacorp seems to be the only operating company (other than the pesudo-criminal "Thugs 4 Less"), with a galaxy-wide monopoly. 

Although it may be reading a little too much into the game, on most of the "civilised" planets (read: those run by Megacorp), the population is entirely robots, these robots are called, in a text description in a sub-menu, "consumerbots", and are produced by Megacorp. So the primary population of the galaxy are manufactured by the Corporatocracy for which they are also the main source of income. Where does the wealth generation come from? Is it some economic "water cycle" of transferring wealth between the ruling class and their consumer base to create the illusion of a functioning society whilst all industry and production slowly rots away? Planets the heroes visit like Tabora (a strip-mined wasteland), Grelbin (an icy dumping-ground for failed genetic experiments) and Oozla (an outlet slowly sinking into a mire) support this theory and those who work for the system could just be "happy slaves", unaware that there is another way to exist. This is a much better game than the first, though there are some elements that are annoying in retrospect once the later games have been played. Still, well worth a go and far from the worst game in the franchise. 

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