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Barlow is a planet in the Bogon Galaxy featured in Going Commando. It is a desert planet that was once the location of a Gadgetron site before Megacorp drove them out of business in the galaxy. It is now the home of Vukovar tribes, abandoned Gadgetron equipment, and a hoverbike gang known as the Desert Riders, in the Vukovar Canyon.

Ratchet and Clank visited the planet in search of the Desert Riders, after Abercrombie Fizzwidget suggested that joining the Desert Riders may allow them to infiltrate the Thugs-4-Less' operations. The two competed in a hoverbike race and became members of the Riders. Ratchet also found the Thermanator gadget, left behind by the Inventor, a Gadgetron scientist who had been frozen and left behind when Gadgetron left.

History

Gadgetron once operated a factory on Barlow,[1] until they left after Megacorp drove them out of business. Among the products Gadgetron was creating here was a puppy-like creature engineered to create a cuddly child's companion.[2] When Gadgetron moved out and abandoned the factory, the Vukovar tribesmen took over, and Gadgetron's pet evolved into deadly killers filled only with hate and loathing, and were thereafter dubbed the Gadgetron Hound of Cuddly Death.[2] The only known employees that remained behind were the Help Matron, who ran a Gadgetron store, and the Inventor, who was frozen in ice by his own gadget, the Thermanator, which he had invented in the hope to earn millions by selling it to Gadgetron.[3] At some point, the Desert Riders made the Vukovar Canyon their home, and filmed a commercial on the planet.

Ratchet arrived to Barlow after Captain Qwark, disguised as Abercrombie Fizzwidget, proposed he join the Desert Riders to "insinuate their operation" (presumably meaning to infiltrate it).[4] In "Find the Desert Riders", Ratchet searched through the canyon and battled through the native Vukovar tribesmen to find the hoverbiker gang. Along the way, they met the Help Matron, who sold the Bomb Glove, Decoy Glove, Tesla Claw, Visibomb Gun, and Walloper, weapons which they had used on their previous adventure (if the player had a save file for the original game on their memory card, she gave them away for free). She also had the RYNO II available for sale, a more powerful version of the R.Y.N.O. that they had used in their previous adventure. After the brief visit, the two carried on.

Ratchet and Clank meeting Biker One.

Ratchet and Clank eventually encountered Biker One, the leader of the Desert Riders.[5] After a brief confrontation, Clank diffused the situation, and he offered to let them enter the hoverbike race if they repaired his hoverbike. After "Win the hoverbike race", he gave them a biker helmet making them members, and showed them a telescreen of the Thug Leader, providing them coordinates to the Feltzin System.

Ratchet speaking with the inventor.

In "Scout the ruined machinery", Ratchet also searched the abandoned factory, looking for any gadgets that had been left behind.[6] While he did not find any, he found the Inventor, still frozen in his. Ratchet freed the Inventor, who proclaimed that his invention, the Thermanator, had worked. He was then dismayed to learn from Ratchet that Gadgetron had been gone for years, and instead sold the Thermanator to him for 1,000 bolts. After selling it, he left and looked for job openings at Megacorp.[7]

Geography

Overview

Map layout of Vukovar Canyon.

The Vukovar Canyon is a steep-sided canyon that is the site of an abandoned Gadgetron facility near a factory. The canyon is a vast, desert area covered with abandoned Gadgetron buildings and equipment. Though much of the canyon's surface is rocky and cannot be traversed, parts of it are a flat walkable surface, with minimal vegetation comprised of small patches of grass, and notably rock-like plants, with stubby protrusions and tentacle-like growths extending from an opening, that are lodged into the walls. Its cliffs are extremely steep, and only a vast abyss can be seen below. Along the flat surface atop the cliffs are open areas, Gadgetron constructs that are littered throughout, and caves inside the rocky terrain. The Gadgetron constructs are almost entirely abandoned, while Vukovar tribesmen have camps set up throughout it.

The Vukovar Canyon.

Abandoned Gadgetron constructs take the form of buildings, bridges, walls, and other machinery, many of which are built on the ground below the cliffs, while some are built on top. The most notable abandoned Gadgetron building is the factory, an immense building located in the distance close to ruined machinery, that appears to be built on the rocks of the cliffs. The Gadgetron logo is seen twice, once on the side of three buildings etched into the side of the cliff, and once near Ratchet's ship. Both times, the logo is missing letters.

Path to Desert Riders

The route visited during "Find the Desert Riders" is a path out in the canyon, through Vukovar camps and abandoned buildings. It starts from a tunnel from where the ship lands, with struts, wires, and supports inside to prevent cave ins. The cave leads up to a higher cliff with destroyed walls with fences on top surrounding it. Past this is an abandoned buildings resembling laboratories, with glass domes on the roof and rooms inside with large cables held in glass cases on the surrounding corners. Beyond the exit is a slope upwards to the edge of a cliff, with a bridge across to another.

On the other side of the cliff is a series of similar buildings interspaced between abandoned areas with destroyed walls, a Vukovar campfire in the middle. At the very end, a bridge leading to the Help Matron's store. This store is a tubular building with posters of Gadgetron weapons in a row across the wall. Behind it is a tunnel to the left leading to an elevator shaft back to the Star Explorer landing pad, and a gap across to Biker One's hut. The hut is a small one-storey house with an orange roof, with his hoverbike "Bluebell" parked in front of it. Behind it are windows with the metal beams holding up an orange material visible behind it. Said material provides shade for the spectators' benches below, visible during the race where they flank the starting line.

Hoverbike race course

The starting line.

The hoverbike course is located in a lower part of the canyon, somewhere below Biker One's hut. The race track starts with two audience podiums either side and thin blue lights just behind the starting line, and a path in between two sets of metal pillars, of which a pillar in the second set splits the track in two. Behind this is a metal tunnel bending to the right that leads inside a building with a pool of water, with one ramp at the start of the pool and two larger ramps either side of the track mid-way through. At the end of this room is a room with large pipes in the ceiling that bends to the right, before the path becomes lit up with red lights, and bends to the left leading out of the building and into the open.

The interior of the building filled with cranes and turbines.

The course then curves right and continues through a short rock tunnel into another open area before reaching a factory, that is mostly lit red and covered with cranes, rotating wind turbines, and more construction material, leading to a short rocky path outside onto a narrow suspension bridge across to another cliff. Across the bridge the path bends right into a large, open, grassy field with Barlowian saur-beasts which will stop racers that hit them, and a few small buildings and rocky hills. At the end of this field is one final building, where the track splits in two: to the left is a lower track with a metal portion that can be used as a ramp up to the track on the right, while to the right right is a higher up track that ends with a turbo boost into a long metal slope upwards through a tunnel and out back to where the track begun.

Available in some courses are shortcuts. One shortcut appears in the red lit room, in the wall to the right, just before the track bends left, and leads through a pair of caves. Pillars are found in between the track along the cave, which ends with a large turbo boost and a gap across to a cave below the construction room, ending in the narrow bridge. The other shortcut is entered around the same place on the opposite side. In the same red room on the left wall is a a very narrow path through caves straight down to the bridge.

Ruined machinery

A piece of ruined machinery.

The path visited during "Scout the ruined machinery" leads around abandoned machines adjacent to the factory. These machines are widely spread it, requiring the use of the Swingshot or several floating grey carts filled with dirt to traverse the large gaps. The path starts on a wall behind where the landing pad, with two slopes on either side leading up to it. The wall stretches a fair distance behind, past which are several small cliffs that serve as platforms in front of the first of many Gadgetron machines.

The abandoned machines are large towers with four carts, each attached to an arm from the machine. The towers rotate each cart 90 degrees before briefly stopping, allowing one to traverse the towers by hopping across them. Interspaced between the towers are several buildings filled with water, as a large pool in each can be dived into and the tunnel swam through to reach another connected building. Aside from this, the remains of mostly destroyed buildings can be found atop several cliffs. The very end of the path connects to the back entrance to the abandoned factory.

Abandoned factory

The interior of the factory.

The abandoned factory is an immense, grey, metal building built on top of the rocks on cliffs, visited at the tail end of "Scout the ruined machinery". It covers a large area over the cliffs, though only a two rooms inside are visited. Much like the buildings dotted throughout the ruined machinery path, the factory is filled with pools of water throughout it and tunnels underneath the water form a path through its rooms. The back entrance to the factory reached from the ruined machinery path using versa-targets, and leads into the room where Ratchet freed the Inventor by breaking him from ice. At the front entrance is an elevator shaft leading down to the Star Explorer landing pad.

Behind the scenes

Concept art of Barlow.

Planet Barlow is possibly named after Tom Barlow, an artist at Insomniac Games.[8] Vukovar Canyon is possibly named after the real-life city Vukovar in Croatia, a city decimated in the Battle of Vukovar in 1991 during the Yugoslav Wars.

The level was programmed by then-junior programmer Tony Garcia,[9] and designed by Lesley Matthiesson.[10] Garcia programmed all aspects with the exception of the Gadgetron Hound of Cuddly Death swarmers, as he struggled to program swarmer enemies.[11] One of his signature ideas was for enemies while idle to interact with one another before Ratchet attacks them. This is seen with the tribesmen around the campfire along the "Find the Desert Riders" route; before Ratchet engages them, the tribesmen will have a conversation, turning to look at whoever is speaking, and occasionally laugh at a joke. When shot at with range and unable to see Ratchet, they will run for cover.[12] Originally, the tribesmen would come up to Ratchet blocking with a shield, and taking less damage. However, this was impossible to convey to the player and added little to the gameplay since enemies would not last long anyway.[13]

The water tunnels in the "Scout the ruined machinery" path would have originally featured the use of the Gunsled, a cut gadget that would have been found on Notak as a reward for "Explore the Promenade", which was going to serve as an upgrade for the Hydro-Pack. As the gadget was cut, the water tunnels are instead just normal swimming sections.[14]

Barlow featured in a demo released for Going Commando, and had a few notable aesthetic differences in the hoverbike race compared to the final version.[15]

The background of the Barlow level is reused for the Insomniac Museum, and the background mountains were also included in the skyboxes of many planets in Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal.

Citations

References

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