Friday, November 1, 2013

Sollosi's Favorite Ratchet & Clank Weapons

I don't think anyone asked for this, but I'mma do it anyway.  The Ratchet & Clank franchise hit its 10th anniversary in late 2012, and I'm going to celebrate by talking about the best part of the series: its ridiculous arsenal of weapons. You know, for the 11th anniversary.  I thought of this too late last year, okay?

Ratchet & Clank is my favorite PS2 series.  Each of the four games had a clear design direction; with each sequel made specific improvements and further experimented with the series' formula; and was a consistently fun blend of running, jumping, and shooting with hilarious characters and dialog, plus several alternative gameplay modes in each game like hacking minigames, racing, turret shooting, space shooting, and arena battles.  Each game is maybe 10-12 hours to finish, with a larger time investment if you get into item collection or special challenges in a big way.

But the best part of every Ratchet game are the weapons.  Every game of the series has an arsenal of 10-30 weapons that becomes increasingly powerful and crazy, and in the more recent games every weapon is upgradable and customizable to a degree.  In this way Ratchet has replaced Mega Man for me in the past 7-8 years; while Mega Man has had few quality games in recent days, every Ratchet game is full of tight platforming and an insane selection of firearms.  I had to get my running/jumping/shooting/cartooning fix somewhere.  I like these Ratchet & Clank weapons so much, I decided to make a list of my favorites.  So let's get to it.

*Note - a few of the weapons are starting versions, a few are upgraded versions.  I just went with what was the nicest, cleanest image I could find except for the Constructo Shotgun.  For that one I thought the upgrade chart was appropriate.  

Sollosi's Favorite Ratchet & Clank Weapons

Honorable Mentions:


Ratchet's wrench is the quintessential melee weapon of the series, bashing crates, whacking foes, and rotating nuts and screws in every game in the series.  It's a perfectly fair melee weapon, and in some games it upgrades into a burning nuclear blunt instrument that's more powerful than most guns.  Solid starting weapon.

Constructo Guns

The three Constructo firearms in A Crack in Time are excellent ideas, but a little lame in execution since they're outclassed fairly quickly by other weapons.  Crack's grenade launcher, pistol, and shotgun are totally moddable with 3 options for each of their 3 components, allowing a total of 27 different configurations for each weapon and a customizable color scheme.  For example, you can modify the grenades' horizontal and vertical spread, shrapnel range, and shrapnel effects in addition to a basic permanent damage upgrade.  The shotgun is by far the strongest and most useful of the three, but in general the Constructo weapons are cooler in concept than they are in combat.

Plasma Coil

The Coil is the weapon that was almost a more legitimate entry on this list; it's basically the 11th of the top ten. One of the final and most powerful non-RYNO weapons in both Going Commando and Up Your Arsenal, the Coil starts out as powerful chain lightning that's good for both small swarming enemies and large brutes, but upon upgrading to the Plasma Storm each shot sends out a massive orb of ball lighting that shocks anything in range.  That pretty sweet effect on top of its MASSIVE damage makes it a go-to weapon for the final area or two of both games in which it features.  Definitely worth using, but not quite unique enough or crazy enough to make this list. 


10. Suck Cannon

One of the game-defining weapons in the first Ratchet & Clank title, the Suck Cannon allowed you to suck up small or medium-sized enemies into a giant vacuum, then spit them back out as compacted improvised ammunition.  It's every bit as silly and amusing as it sounds, and the satisfying sucking noise made by the Suck Cannon increases the fun. The Suck Cannon shows up again in Up Your Arsenal with some basic improvements and a nice upgrade option.

9.  Nano-Swarmers

Several Ratchet games have turret weapons, where you throw out a bomb, a turret sprouts up, and it provides cover fire for a set period.  Those are nice, but they aren't nearly as awesome as the Nano-Swarmers, which are large cyber-beehives that house what appear to be thousands of nano-machine insects that look like a cloud of cherry blossoms or shredded paper, but deal extreme damage to nearby enemies in a satisfying manner.  The 'Swarmers are only in Tools of Destruction, which is in the middle tier of quality for Ratchet games but had some very cool weapon ideas.

Also, I should mention that many of the grenade weapons in Ratchet games are represented by gloves that generate the thrown item in Ratchet's palm.  Ratchet throws the Swarm hives like grenades; that's why it's a funky glove in the above image. 

8.  Rift Inducer 5000

That's not a very intimidating picture for such a beast of a weapon.  The Rift Inducer was a weapon in Up Your Arsenal that was pretty cool, summoning a miniature black hole that instantly swallowed and eliminated smaller enemies.  The Rift Inducer 5000, a mid-game weapon in A Crack in Time, is a major upgrade, despite looking like a cartoon Men in Black Neuralizer.  The black hole still functions as normal, but this time an extra-dimensional tentacle monster named Fred lashes out from beyond the rift to drag in enemies as well.  Basically you summon a black hole and tentacles emerge to attack your enemies.  Lightning bolts also get involved. 

7.  Sonic Eruptor

The Sonic Eruptor is similar to a shotgun in that it delivers a powerful short-range blast with damage in a wide cone.  What's interesting about the Eruptor is that you generate the blast by electrocuting some kind of space frog into screaming powerfully.  Even better, the Sonic Eruptor has a "breathing meter" that rises and falls as the space frog inhales and exhales, providing a damage boost if you fire when the creature's lungs are full.  Really cool twist on the shotgun weapon archetype and an extremely useful early-game weapon in A Crack in Time.

6.  Lava Gun

The Lava Gun was in both Going Commando and Up Your Arsenal, and in both games it performs the same function - hosing a stream of lava in a short-range arc similar to a squirt gun.  However, the Lava Gun upgrades differently in each game.  In Going Commando, it upgrades to a Meteor Gun, launching powerful, fiery lava chunks in that same arc (the Meteor Gun is one of the most damaging weapons in the game when it locks on).  In Up Your Arsenal, the Lava Gun upgrades to a Liquid Nitrogen Gun, switching from orange to ice blue and freezing enemies caught in the stream.  Two totally different upgrades that are both excellent concepts.  Great weapon.

5.  Critter Strike

One of the weapon highlights in every Ratchet game is the morphing weapon, which uses a transmogrifying beam to turn enemies into harmless animals.  Each Ratchet game has a different animal as its morph result, starting with chickens in the first game and then moving on to sheep, ducks, pigs, penguins, and chimpanzees over the six Ratchet games in the "core series."

But why choose the Critter Strike, a very recent morph weapon from Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One, over a classic morph weapon?  Well, the critter strike turns enemies into pigs at first, but eventually upgrades to turn them into aggressive, flaming boars that attack other enemies.  So far, so good.  Furthermore, using All 4 One's combination system you can overcharge it to create a wide-area morph blast.  Very nice indeed.  But lastly, you can use mods to turn enemies into TYRANNOSAURUS REXES.  HOLY SHIT.  They start out as giant eggs with stubby legs, but eventually you get miniature BURNING DINOSAURS as allies.  Sadly, that T-Rex mod was only available as a pre-order bonus, but it should be available to all eventually.  I should check up on that.  But anyway, the Critter Strike is a good morph weapon that can be upgraded into THE BEST morph weapon. 

4.  Glove of Doom

Not very intimidating at first glance, is it?  Well, the Glove of Doom makes up for that appearance with a kickass name and a kickass payload.  Each Glove of Doom grenade in the first Ratchet & Clank is an egg of sorts that hatches three robots resembling big cartoon beartraps with legs; the bots laugh maniacally as they attack nearby enemies and explode.  Even better, when Insomniac brought back the Glove of Doom in Up Your Arsenal, they gave the tiny Agents of Doom tiny jet packs and tiny short-range missiles.  I love it.

3.  Groovitron

The world got its first glimpse of the Groovitron in the first trailer for Ratchet & Clank: Tools of Destruction.  The premise was simple: a discoball grenade that made enemies uncontrollably dance.  From the first second it was love at first sight. Not only is the Groovitron hilarious, it's extremely effective!  No enemy is immune to the "stun" effect of dancing, and every enemy has its own unique dance animations that are a fantastic detail in the greater whole of the two games featuring the Groovitron.  The upgraded Groovitron in A Crack in Time is the Groovibomb, which replaces the disco with heavy metal (meh...) but then explodes in a powerful bomb after the song's over (sweet!).

2.  RYNO

It would have been too easy giving the RYNO the top spot in these rankings, but I held back because 1) most of the time I don't even have the game's RYNO for the final boss since it's usually prohibitively difficult to get; and 2) it's so powerful it makes the game too easy and less fun, most of the time.  My top spot is going to a more "main game" Ratchet weapon, but back to the Rip-You-a-New-One.  The best RYNO is the first one, where its elegance is unparalleled (keep in mind that the iconic gun has had five versions over the years).  Firing eight missiles, each almost as powerful as a Devastator shot, that perfectly home in on foes?  And with the largest ammo capacity of any non-flamethrower non-Tesla weapon in the game?  The RYNO was a screen-clearing monster that made just about every other weapon obsolete.  Incredible power leading to satisfying carnage.  Later RYNOs of the Ratchet games seem like overkill, but the first one was just right.

1.  Bouncer

There are a large number of grenade and bomb weapons in the Ratchet games, from the first Ratchet's first weapon, the Bomb Glove, to the full-screen explosions of the Mini-Nuke and Omega Fusion Bomb in later games.  But my favorite is the Bouncer.  A cluster grenade launcher that fires a bomb that burst into bomblets which explode like firecrackers after a short delay, the Bouncer's incredible damage against large targets (with some luck, certain bosses can be killed with a single Bouncer shot) and ability to carpet-bomb a wide area make it a perfect weapon for any group of ground-bound foes.

But the best part is the distinctive cling-clang of the bomblets as they rattle around prior to the explosion, followed by the firecracker sounds when they detonate.  You hear that sound, and you know you're in for a light show.  I apologize that this smaller image was the best Bouncer pic I could find, because it doesn't do the weapon's payload justice.  The Bouncer looks like a Nerf pistol, but that giant cartoon barrel houses some of my favorite projectiles in any video game.  Bouncer, you're the best in the business. 


It's too bad that I didn't find a spot for any of the Ratchet series' excellent sniping weapons (the Splitter Rifle is a favorite) or specialized melee weapons (the Shredder Claws in particular) or missile launchers (the original Devastator especially) but them's the breaks.  Ratchet is a great series of platform shooters that has some awesome weapons.  If you haven't already, you should check the it out! 

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