Played on: PlayStation 3
Released on: PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PS Vita
Genre: Action, Adventure, Platformer
Posted: 14th May 2021
Released in 2002, Ratchet & Clank 2: Going Commando (Locked & Loaded in PAL regions) is a sequel to the original Ratchet & Clank game the year before. The Ratchet & Clank games are action-platformers with a big focus on firepower from unique sci-fi weaponry.
I found the narrative of Going Commando a bit of a mixed bag.
Once again, the story is nothing special. But for a game with the main focus on its gameplay first and foremost, it doesn’t overly need to worry about the story that it’s trying to tell. Unlike this original game, the story isn’t so much focused on the concept of Good vs Evil. Instead, Going Commando attempts to slowly build the stakes of Ratchet and Clank’s journey.
The delivery of the game’s narrative is delivered nicely, and they even attempt to throw in a few plot twists along the way – as opposed to the one that was arguably in the original game.
The developers of Going Commando, Insomniac Games, have attempted to make Ratchet more of a likeable protagonist in this entry – after some negative feedback from the duo’s first outing.
This has led to a change in voice actor for Ratchet, from Mikey Kelly to James Arnold Taylor (known for his roles as Tidus in Final Fantasy X). I believe that James Arnold Taylor delivers a pretty great performance as Ratchet, delivering a more mature Ratchet. Although, I did enjoy Mikey Kelly’s performance in the original game, so will be sad to see him go.
However, due to Insomniac’s endeavours to make Ratchet more likeable, the jump in time between the two games has left out a feeling of transition in Ratchet’s character.
The end of the original game saw the start of Ratchet’s change to becoming a more compassionate character, and the opening of Going Commando shows this transition completed. While it isn’t too big of a quarrel, it just would have been nice to see more of this change on-screen.
As a sequel, Ratchet & Clank 2: Going Commando hits every gameplay mark perfectly. The game improves on everything from the original, taking what made it so successful and pushing it even further.
Movement has been refined.
Ratchet can now jump higher and his double jumps now maintain momentum. Furthermore, a strafing mechanic has been fully integrated into Ratchet’s movement capabilities. Whereas you could only strafe while hovering with the Thusterpack in the original, Ratchet now has immediate and unrestricted opportunity to strafe while holding down L2/R2.
This makes a massive difference to how combat plays out. Due to more refined movement, while aiming and shooting your weapons, the gunplay has sped up and become much more intense. Going Commando won’t be shy at throwing hordes of enemies at you. There’s never a need for you to slow down during combat now. You can run, gun and blast your way through your enemies.
Furthermore, the ‘Quick Select’ ring feature to quickly pick a new weapon or gadget now pauses the gameplay while you select what you need. So now, there doesn’t need to be a long pause or break in your flow while fending off your foe.
There’s a theme that becomes apparent as you play Going Commando, and that is a theme of ‘upgrading’.
A huge change from the original game is that you have the ability to upgrade many features in the game. After defeating enemies, you gain ‘nanomites’ which act as experience points. With enough nanomites, you’ll be able to increase your maximum nanotech (your health) or upgrade your weapons to a more powerful form.
This is an incredible addition to Going Commando.
In the previous game, you were capped at a maximum total of eight health points, whereas the cap in Going Commando has increased tenfold to 80.
Furthermore, only certain weapons could be upgraded through the use of Gold Bolts in the original game, whereas practically every brand-new weapon has a base purchasable form and can upgrade to a stronger form. Upgrading a weapon doesn’t just provide a boost in power either. An upgraded weapon can receive an increase in maximum ammunition, or even gain a few abilities – such as the Chopper (a throwing star weapon) being upgraded to split into multiple stars to ricochet off more enemies.
I can’t begin to tell you how great I find this change. Not only are you rewarded for using a weapon, but it incentivises the use of other weapons to find out what they can truly be capable of.
Something completely new to Going Commando is suits of armour. At around the halfway mark in the game, the difficulty can ramp up a little. Enemies begin dealing much greater amounts of damage to the point where Ratchet’s health can seem to just crumble away. To overcome this, you can purchase suits of armour. More suits become available as you progress further through the game, but all of them are completely optional. I think that this is great, as you can make the game as easy or difficult as you want it by controlling how much damage enemy attacks can do.
The ‘New Game +’ aspect of the original Ratchet & Clank has returned with a few new tricks up its sleeve. Now referred to as ‘Challenge Mode’, there is so much replayability added to Going Commando.
In Challenge Mode, once again you retain all weapons you had purchased, as well as the newly included armour suits. You also retain any collectables you may have obtained in your playthrough.
However, the major changes in Challenge Mode are that you can purchase further upgraded versions of your weapons, first in ‘Mega’ form, but can then be upgraded further into their final ‘Ultra’ form. There is also the introduction of a Bolt Multiplier. As would be expected, with so many weapons and upgrades to purchase, your Bolt count is going to be a little thin. Thus, in Challenge Mode you can earn a multiplied number of Bolts. You can increase your multiplier by defeating enemies to a maximum of x20. The number of enemies it takes to increase your multiplier increases exponentially each rank too, so it isn’t too easy to rack up the ranks. If you’re hit, however, you lose your multiplier which I think is an excellent counter to this system.
Lastly, enemies will deal more damage than before making ‘Challenge’ Mode true to its name.
With each new addition in Challenge Mode, Going Commando’s playtime practically doubles. There is so much enjoyment to be found in replaying the game over and over, becoming more powerful each time just to see how powerful you can truly become – I love it!
I touched on this slightly earlier, but Ratchet’s arsenal of weapons in Going Commando is even better than his first outing.
Many of the weapons hit the same notes as the original game, such as a basic blaster weapon, some form of bombs and a rocket launcher; even a transmogrification weapon – this time with the ability to turn enemies into sheep. However, there are even more unique weapons than before, from the previously discussed ‘Chopper’, to a glove that dispatches mini-turrets that fire a barrage against nearby enemies.
Utilising each weapon in Going Commando has also been improved.
Alongside the improvements made to movement through strafing, the auto-aiming reticle has been adjusted. It is now more receptive to nearby enemies. It will lock-on much faster, from greater distances and follow them more closely. This is an excellent change due to the faster pace of the combat. With Ratchet moving about the field at a faster pace, being able to reliably fight back against a larger number of enemies is amazing.
The world design of the original Ratchet & Clank was pretty great, in my opinion; each world had a unique appearance and feel to it. I’m happy to say that this carries over into Going Commando.
There are many more worlds to travel to and explore than in the previous game. While each of these worlds aren’t consistently the same size, with some being rather large but others having considerably less to do, the tone and style of these settings feel fresh and unique. There is a great amount of diversity in Going Commando. You could be on a boggy swamp planet one moment, before jetting off to a sprawling futuristic metropolis and then exploring a massive desert or frozen tundra after that.
I think what truly makes each of these worlds feel so different is the way that the game utilises different hues of colour. Just a slight change in hue makes all the difference in conveying the atmosphere of the planets.
I also find that the level design for concealing secrets is much better this time around too. The superior design makes for a much more enjoyable exploration experience.
Much like the original game, Clank returns as a playable character with unique gameplay separate from Ratchet’s. His gameplay segments are widely the same as previously but just with a few new additions.
Clank’s sections are slower than the usual Ratchet gameplay – even more so with the improvements to the pace of gameplay.
Clank has control over other robots that can be found throughout his playable areas. These robots are used to overcome obstacles and open doors to allow Clank to reach his goal. While in the original game Clank could only control the small ‘Gadge-bots’, in Going Commando the bots under your control have increased slightly. As well as the usual ‘Gadge-bots’, now named ‘Micro-bots’, on occasion you gain access to three other variants: ‘Bridge-bot’, ‘Lifter-bot’ and ‘Hammer-bot’ – it’s fairly obvious what these new bots are used for. These new bots functionality is highly situational, and while it’s nice that Clank has been given more to do, it hardly increases any form of challenge that these sections pose. Furthermore, the Clank sections feel a little lacking in a sense. Though there are these new robots to utilise, there are only ever two of them used in any given section – never with all three of them together. It makes me feel that there may have been a section of Clank gameplay cut during development that would have done this.
Regardless, as nice as this new addition for Clank is, it doesn’t progress his gameplay all too much and I don’t find myself enjoying these sections.
One aspect of gameplay that has seen a massive leap forward in Going Commando is the ship sections.
There were the odd ship sections here and there in the original Ratchet & Clank, however, it has become a more dedicated portion of the gameplay this time.
Your ship controls very nicely with just the right amount of manoeuvrability to navigate around some of the larger structures in some of the levels. Furthermore, added to Going Commando you can perform a barrel roll in order to avoid incoming enemies attacks, as opposed to the original game where you’d need to loop in a giant circle in order to avoid enemies while still being able to focus on your main target.
Outside of an introductory level to the ship combat, every ship level is revisitable. Each of these levels has multiple challenges for you to complete. Some of these challenges may include destroying a set number of ships, while others may be a race through a course – anyone familiar with the original Spyro the Dragon trilogy will be familiar with the way that the ship races are carried out.
As has been the case in practically every instance of Going Commando thus far, you can also upgrade your ship.
Relatively early on in the game, you receive coordinates to a location that you can visit to upgrade your ship. Upgrades are bought through a secondary currency: Raritanium.
Raritanium can be earned in two different ways. Either through destroying ships in space or mining is from the desert planets.
The upgrades that you can purchase are great!
You can buy typical upgrades, such as shields so that you can take more damage before your ship gets destroyed, or you can buy stronger blasters so that your regular fire deals more damage. However, you can also buy better thrusters so that you can travel across the area faster, or Mines that detonate dealing radial damage when ships fly near it and even a literal Nuke.
From the greater number of opportunities to experience ship sections, the wider variety within them as well as a dedicated upgrade system on top of that, the ship sections were really enjoyable to me. They’re a much better way to take a break from regular Ratchet gameplay than the Clank sections anyway.
Ratchet & Clank 2: Going Commando is an absolutely amazing sequel. It improves on many of the main aspects of the game and even though it doesn’t improve on absolutely everything, in my opinion, the quality of those areas is consistent with that of its predecessor.
If you enjoyed the original game, then you’re going to love Going Commando, but if you’ve never played the original and for some reason would rather skip it (although I’m not sure why you would), this game is an excellent starting point. It captures what made the original so incredible and takes it so much further.
Time Logged by Point of Review: 15 Hours
Reviewed by: Sam
Note: Images for this review were taken from ‘Full Playthroughs’ Youtube video. Find the full video HERE.
Thank you for reading my review of Ratchet & Clank 2: Going Commando [Locked & Loaded]. This game was my real entry point to the series, and it felt so surreal returning to it with a critical lens.
Have you played Ratchet & Clank 2? If so, let me know your thoughts. If you haven’t played the game yet, I hope I’ve encouraged you to give it a go!
Click the links below to read our reviews of the other games in the Ratchet & Clank series:
If you’d like to read more of the reviews that we’ve posted on BlackDiscGaming, you can a link to all of the reviews we’ve done so far below: