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     " You'll get your money's worth... "

      Title: Ratchet and Clank: Going Commando by Sony

      Format: PS2 Platformer

      Reviewing Monkey: Mojo Jojo

      The Hype: Easily one of the most entertaining platform games of all time, Ratchet and Clank made a killer showing when it debuted barely a year ago. Held back almost exclusively by the limited nature of a platform title (run, jump, repeat) and some pretty crumby AI, it still earned some serious praise and was a fun, if not classic, game. So now, after a time-span so short it boggles the mind, Ratchet and Clank are back in Going Commando-a sequel that promises upgrade and, more importantly, more entertainment. But does it succeed? Read on, my monkeys, read on.

      What This Monkey Thought...

      Graphics: Pretty to be sure, and bordering on gorgeous and various intervals, Going Commando (GC) is a feast for the eyes near the limits of what the Playstation can deliver. It's lush, it's bright, and it's fun to watch. The only problem with it is that it is also obviously the same engine as they used for the first one with almost no upgrade. And while I appreciate the logic in "ain't broke, don't fix it" I would have rather they delayed it a bit from its lightning release to improve the graphics. 4.5 out of 5

      Playability: I've got to admit it; I'm not much of a platform gamer. Not that they don't have a level of appeal, but trying to make the next triple-jump or collecting coins has just never seemed like a whole lot of fun. So when I ended up with GC to review, I was skeptical at best. Sure, the first was praised as a "mold breaking" game, but a platformer is still a platformer, right? Wrong. Boy, howdy, was I wrong.
          Though a platformer at heart, and still requiring much of the same as many other games, GC goes many a mile to make sure you don't get more of the same. For starters, the inclusion of considerable weapons and equipment means there is rarely just one way to skin any proverbial cat. From gravity bombs to laser shotguns there are a ton of ways to blow up your enemies, solve the puzzles, and kill, kill, kill. But on top of that, there's also a very clever AI to contend with (a significant improvement over the original) that means simply "patterning", or waiting to exploit the rhythms of the AI, probably won't be possible and that each area, battle, and boss can have unique solutions to it. Enough so that repetition is not a word in GC's vocabulary. Then there's the equipment improvement. Granted, this game, like so many others, has coins (called "bolts") to collect and upgrades, etc., that can be purchased with them, but while that's an option there are also innovations to keep that from being your only opportunity. The most ingenious of which is the way it tracks weapon usage. Now, instead of busting butt to get the coins you need to upgrade the weapons you want the game actually tracks how often you use it, similar to XP gaining in a roleplaying game, and automatically upgrades the weapons you use most as you use them…turning your gravity bomb into a mini-nuke, for example.
          But in case all this still isn't enough for you, there's also a killer selection of mini-games that are not only fun to play, but also advance your character (by giving you bolts) and so mean there's a way to advance without replaying levels over and over again. It all adds up to a good game and one that is as unique as it is fun to play. 5 out of 5

      Story and Drama: Cute and bizarre. The two best words to describe GC. The plot, simply enough, is that you are on the downslide of the fame you earned from the first game when you get an offer to investigate some corporate raiding that's been going on. It leads to some very entertaining cut scenes that tell a story fit for a game that made famous the "chicken gun". 3.75 out of 5

      Multiplayer and Replayability: No multiplayer is a bummer, but the levels are fun and varied enough, and carry the possibility of more bolts and upgrades, that you'll check it out at least one more time. But, even if you don't, the initial game is surprisingly long for a platformer, between 15 and 20 hours, and that means you'll get your money's worth. 3.75 out of 5

      The Verdict:

       Every now and then something comes along to surprise you and make you rethink the definitions of game genres, and Going Commando is definitely one of those games. Fun, exciting, innovative, and almost never repetitive, it is one of the best total package games I've seen in years.

      The Good: Cool weapons, good level design, advanced AI, and a fun game all around.

      The Bad: No multiplayer? That's really all that's missing.

      The Overall Ugly: I'm playing it more than once.

      What it's Worth: Market

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