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B-Radicate avatar 7:27 PM on 03.14.2009  (server time)
Quick Ass Review Time: Mercenaries 2 and R&C Future: ToD

So, this week my blog reviews return for a double whammy! This review covers Mercenaries 2 and Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction. Enjoy.

Mercenaries 2

I never played the first Mercenaries title last generation, but had friends who enjoyed it. I played a demo on Xbox but was never enthralled with the idea of a war-time GTA. The sequel sounded more promising with a giant open world, the ability to lay waste to whole cities, etc. Unfortunately, the execution was so poor I gave up a few scant hours in.

The controls sucked, the graphics looked worse than some Wii titles Iíve played, the gameplay had almost zero variety, and the story and dialog were laughable at best and shameful at worst. I played through some of the missions in co-op with a friend and managed to get the majority of the Achievements without having to do much of anything, so I sent it back to GameFly within a week.

This character is in no way ironic and the game is sadder because of it.

Ho-hum. If you gaming hours are limited like mine, they can be spent on much better experiences of a similar nature including, but not limited to, Saintís Row 2 and even GTAIV. Yeah, I liked GTAIV more than Mercs 2 and I HATED GTAIV. That should tell you something right there.

Quick ass review score: 4/10

Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction

Yeah. I got a PS3. How crazy is that? (B-Radicate if ya wanna friend me, by the way.) So this is my first PS3 review. Cool. Now read on.

As a HUGE fan of the R&C titles since the first on the PS2, I knew Tools of Destruction would have to be not only my first PS3 game purchase, but also my first play through. There was never a doubt. Luckily the game retained all the fun and humor of last generationís titles however I was a bit upset with how little the title pushed the series forward.

So, seeing as Iíve played every R&C titles to grace the PS2 (except for the PSP port) I went into ToD knowing the basics of what to expect: gorgeous graphics, a fun storyline with great characters and voice work, and a bevy of weapons with which to assault my foes. Where the title failed me was in the actual execution of the mechanics.

One thing Iíve noticed throughout the R&C series lifespan, and something Iíve grown to hate, is how Insomniac cycles through game mechanics. One title is all weapons and platforming, another has a customizable spaceship with loads of space flight side mission, others have loads of arena battles, one has multiplayer, etc. The problem is none of them have ALL of the proven game mechanics. They cherry pick which ones to cobble together and make a game with instead of polishing everything all at once and presenting a truly outstanding and varied experience. Whatís worse is that beyond Sixaxis controls, the game literally doesnít introduce anything new to the series or the genre. A hugely wasted opportunity to show us everything the PS3 would now allow the developers to create.

Sure, it looks nice, but if you've played a R&C title, you've seen and done it all before, sadly.

It annoyed me to no end that ToD didnít have a multiplayer component (especially considering Insomniac clearly had a handle on PS3 online play with the release of Resistance). Instead of the system shipping almost out the gates with a great 3rd person action shooter (albeit of the more cartoony variety) they stripped the title down to its most basic form since the original title (a grand game, by all means, but showing its age in the wake of superior sequels), which is okay if you want to be the GTAIV of the action platforming genre (zing). However much I disliked GTAIVís decision to remove a lot of the variety that made me love it, it made those concessions in order to completely overhaul the strength and breadth of the storyline, something R&C didnít do or even try. It delivered a fun narrative, sure, but it wasnít revolutionary by any means. It wasnít even the best R&C story, if you ask me.

It also annoyed me that corners were cut in terms of playability to showcase Sixaxis controls. The ball rolling door unlock mini-game was like hell until I realized I could turn the motion control off and play the game like a sane person. I was also pissed the guns, when evolving, didnít change shape/form until the very last level. A small thing to nitpick, but after playing the first game that included the weapon experience system (forgive me, they all sort of blend together in my head) and having the sheer joy rush through me when my rocket launcher just grew a new silo, or my shotgun grew beefier, it was sad to only have the thrill reflected in some numerical statistics which meant very little to me.

All in all, I think the title was made more to let R&C fans that Insomniac knows the hardware, knows we want more R&C, and was building a base engine in order to deliver newer better titles in the seriesí (and systemís) futures. Ratchet & Clank Future is a fitting name change, to say the least. Maybe next time...

Quick ass review score: 7/10

Thanks for reading!

Next up will be Prince of Persia and Killzone 2.

**All images provided by/found via Google Image Search.**

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