The IP Shack #4: Ratchet Gladiator/Deadlocked

We’d like to introduce you to the IP Shack. The IP Shack is all about giving our gamers (staff and readers) a space to rant about the games that aren’t currently spamming the industry with videos, screenshots, teaser trailers, previews, or any related pre-purchase buzz. The idea being that we’ll take a discussion point from a game old or new, whimsical or technical and share some thought on it. We kind of see it as a revisit to existing game IPs (hence name…the shack part is because we like candles) to look at them from quirky angles.

Like I said it’s still barely out of a ‘beta’ phase so expect some experimentation over the coming weeks. We could be waffling about the online days of Splinter Cell back on the PS2, and about all the glitches and scary voices. Or speculation on Raiden’s sexual preferences, why Nolan North seems to pop up in every bloody game, the best puzzle on Portal, whatever. But all you really need to ‘get’ is that this is a little bit less serious and restricted than articles normal dictate, so relax, don’t feel guilty about liking Bayonetta, and come inside the Shack. This week we discuss Ratchet Gladiator/Deadlocked.

Many folks overlooked this experimental Ratchet and Clank title because it was treading in unfamiliar territory and leaning more heavily towards a 3rd person shooting game. Whilst it was a bit of a shake up on the formula back in 2005, I feel that Insomniac’s experiment paid off and illustrated the strengths of the franchise as a whole.

It was less whimsical and considerably darker in content but managed to pull off a genre experimentation and demonstrated that they could ‘do’ near –pure 3rd person shooting. Many of the R&C iconic elements and mechanics were included to ensure the game was recognizable (such as swingshots, boltcranks, jump pads, grind rails), and the weaponry and gadgets were still visibly over the top and cartoony.

For many loyal R&C fans it was a real shock when they couldn’t play as Clank at all, but it did ultimately suit the tone of the ‘spin off’ adventure. From the very beginning the default controller set up is lock-strafe, which creates a fixed crosshair and FPS-esque handling. In all the other R&C games before and after, the control scheme has always been free-roaming and platform orientated as the default setting.

The storytelling was easily up to the standards of the other games and it was just as enjoyable – if a little different. Perhaps we’ll experience something similar with the upcoming ‘All 4 One’ co-op centred gameplay?

But the next most obvious addition/change was the introduction of a new R&C online multiplayer, following in the footsteps of R&C 3’s dip in the competitive pool, only with more refinements and a neater interface. Considering this was in the days of the PS2, and the time when you had to go out and buy a network adaptor to fix to the back of your console, it was more than a luxurious novelty. Deadlocked/Gladiator offered the traditional collection of game modes that have now become standard (King Of The Hill, Deathmatch, CTF, etc etc) in the online world, and did them brilliantly.

Players had the option to use a range of cool vehicles like the hoverbike, the land stalker (spider tank), and the drop ships. With its own version of killstreak rewards and an impressive range of maps, it was one of the more solid online experiences on the PS2. It was tasteful and ridiculously competitive, feeling more like a community than most online servers do today. Although smaller numbers may….created this.

Interestingly, the setup was considerably advanced, with fully functioning clans and separate ‘clan war’ lobbies, detailed leaderboards, and an in –lobby instant messenger allowing you to tell “CosmoX7X” why he is categorically a noob. Or some such like. You could also rip it up online split screen with a buddy.

The campaign was short, sweet, and a little alien, but it gave Insomniac to show us a slightly different side of R&C. After all – they know they can pull this kinda thing off now so maybe Sony’s star studio will draw on this experience in the future.

Share your opinion below, don’t be shy.