Ratchet and Clank 2 Locked and Loaded
Ratchet and Clank 2 is known for being one of the best games in this long-running franchise. This game takes everything amazing about the first title and refines it and then takes anything bad and improves on it or just gets rid of it altogether. The story, similar to the first game, is aimed at kids but has many themes that only adults would have a deeper understanding of. You still meet loads of different characters all with unique personalities. Consumerism is explored even more heavily than the first game through the use of consumeristic satire. Again Ratchet and Clank are two of the only people to appear to want to help the Bogon galaxy. The game almost shows consumerism as the main villain as throughout the game you see what Megacorp (the corporation that runs this galaxy) has done to the Bogon Galaxy. Of course, Qwark is revealed to be the villain of the overarching storyline but you only have to look at a few cut scenes to see the far worse things Megacorp has done to this galaxy. Honestly, the story all around this time is a little more complicated than the first but still tells a compelling fun narrative that feels right at home in this universe.
The gameplay of Ratchet and Clank 2 is brilliant, especially for the time of release. Ratchet controls a lot better in this game and that is mainly due to the introduction of strafing. Ratchet can now strafe left and right whilst still facing enemies. This makes combat a lot more enjoyable and allows the arsenal to be a lot more diverse as there is less of a need for loads of AOE weapons like the first game where you couldn't strafe. It effectively allows Ratchet to be a lot more precise. New weapon mods are also available in the game which adds another layer of depth to combat however in all honesty these mods aren't that effective. This concept is improved on significantly in later games. Gladiator arenas (now a series staple) are introduced in this game where Ratchet can complete challenges for extra bolts. Racing makes a return but now consists of racing a hover-bike rather than hover-board like the first game. These races much like the gladiator arenas allow Ratchet to acquire more bolts. I only have two negatives to say about the gameplay. One is that the ship battles are arguably the worst seen in the series and feel like an absolute grind when you want to complete every mission to get the bolts. Secondly, the planets aren't as great to look at as the first game. The second game looks quite bland in comparison to its predecessors' bright colour palette. This doesn't take away from the experience overall but was definitely noticeable.
The soundtrack for this game, again like the first, is amazing. Almost every level, whilst not as memorable as the first, creates a great atmosphere. I won't lie I don't have any overall favourites however I do always remember liking the space mission soundtracks even though I hated the levels themselves. This game continues the cool mechanic of having the setting presented to the player at the very beginning of a level. The best time it does this is on the final planet Yeedil. When Ratchet and Clank exit the ship they are met with the gargantuan Megacorp HQ looming over you. This mixed with the great soundtrack really made you feel like you were in the final level of a game. This was the end of the battle you'd been fighting for hours.
Overall Ratchet and Clank 2: Locked and Loaded really feels like a step up from its predecessor. Almost everything is improved upon. New mechanics are tested but everything still stays true to the original Ratchet and Clank formula. There are still a couple of faults but nothing that stays prevalent throughout the game, nothing that ruins your enjoyment for more than a few minutes. The game is still relatively challenging with a couple of puzzles that I still have trouble with today and never holds your hand. Insomniac continues to push the series forward with their sequel. There is still a lot of emotion here however the stakes are much bigger than the characters this time round which is what the main game focused on. In this sense, I feel like we lost a little in terms of character development. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, just an observation. This is where my journey with Ratchet and Clank began and honestly I am forever thankful for all the wonderful memories that this game gave me.
This is honestly a perfect sequel.