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Ratchet: Deadlocked (known as Ratchet: Gladiator in Europe and Australia) is the fourth installment in the Ratchet & Clank series developed by Insomniac Games and published by Sony Computer Entertainment. It was initially released in October 2005 for the PlayStation 2, and was re-released for PlayStation 3 in May 2013 as a standalone separate from the Ratchet & Clank Collection (free to download for those who purchased Full Frontal Assault).

The story takes a notably darker tone than previous entries in the franchise. It follows Ratchet, a lombax mechanic and intergalactic hero of the Bogon and Solana Galaxy, as he is kidnapped and forced to compete in DreadZone, an illegal gladiatorial combat sport broadcast to billions on holovision. He is joined by Clank and Al, along with newly introduced combat bots Merc and Green, as they compete not only for their survival, but also to take down Gleeman Vox and his vast media empire.

Deadlocked is a third person action adventure game with elements of shooting, platforming, and some vehicle mechanics in a single player, co-operative play, and online mode. In contrast to previous games, Clank does not feature as Ratchet's backpack, making the (fewer in number) platforming segments more basic, while puzzles are almost absent. Ratchet also has a smaller arsenal of weapons, though each weapon features far more customization options in the form of alpha and omega mods. There is less emphasis placed on exploration, though more vehicles feature than previous entries. The multiplayer battlefields and modes are heavily inspired by those that featured in the previous entry, Up Your Arsenal.

Gameplay

Overview

Deadlocked is a third person shooter with mechanics involving shooting, platforming, arena combat, and controlling various vehicles. In the single player campaign, the player controls Ratchet and is assisted by two combat bots on the battlefield who they can issue commands to. They are absent in the co-op campaign, where the first player controls Ratchet, while the second player by default controls Alpha Clank, though both can use a variety of skins (including Jak) to change their character's appearance. Both player characters have the same arsenal of moddable and upgradeable weapons, a melee OmniWrench, and a basic moveset. They will also co-operatively control all vehicles

The DreadZone Station serves as the main hub in which players can purchase weapons, mods, as well as combat bot upgrades and customizations. The Station offers access to the interplanetary transport, which takes contestants to available battlecourses on various planets. Battlecourses require a specific rank and number of Dread Points, and offer both normal challenges and optional Dread Challenges (which grant Dread Points). Completing a battlecourse also grants a medal, and collecting enough medals grants access to the next tournament, which features one of the Exterminators and ultimately grants access to the next rank upon completion.

New to Deadlocked is the ability to select a difficulty, in which they can set the difficulty to Couch Potato (easiest), Contestant (easy), Gladiator (medium), Hero (hard) or Exterminator (hardest, and only available upon completing the game). After completing the main storyline, players can choose to warp back to before defeating the final boss to complete remaining side objectives, or to proceed to challenge mode. Challenge mode allows weapons to be further upgraded to level 99, and Nanotech to level 999, and more weapon, wrench, and bot upgrades to be purchased, as well as allowing access to alpha mods in the vendor.

Unlike previous games swimming is not available as a mechanic, nor is Clank playable.

Equipment

Deadlocked features ten weapons total, none of which featured in previous entries. Each weapon provides distinct offensive or defensive utility, and can be purchased from Deadlocked vendors. The Dual Vipers and Magma Cannon are unlocked from the start. While the arsenal is much smaller than previous titles, each weapon can be upgraded to a much higher level, and the alpha and omega mods, which can be added and swapped out to the player's leisure, provide them with much more versatility.

While alpha mods simply augment the powers of the weapon (such as increasing its ammo, rate of fire, area of effect, knockback, or increasing bolts earned through using the weapon), the omega mods can fundamentally change the effects of the weapon. The more unique effects range from the Napalm Mod, which spawns pools of lava damaging enemies in an area, or the Brainwash Mod causing enemies to attack one another instead of Ratchet.

In single player the player is assisted by two combat bots, who have their own distinct set of equipment, along with customization and upgrade options that can be purchased from Al's vendor. Up to five weapons are available for them to defeat enemies, and four gadgets can be used to help Ratchet through various challenges. Upgrades that augment the bot's base armor and strength can also be purchased, as well as various paint jobs and head designs to change their appearance. The bots do not appear in co-op play, where both player characters have access to the same arsenal and pull from the same ammo, and are also able to use the bots' gadgets themselves.

Player character's gadgets are limited to the Swingshot, Charge Boots, and Grind Boots. There are no puzzles in the game, and without Clank as a backpack no access to the standard Heli-Pack gadget.

Vehicles

There are four different vehicles that Ratchet can pilot: the Hoverbike, the Landstalker, the Puma, and the Hovership.

The Hoverbike is the fastest vehicle with a laser cannon on the front, which is fast and agile, but not heavily armored. The Landstalker is a four-legged mech with two machine guns and large plasma mortars that lock onto enemies, making it a slow but powerful vehicle dealing heavy damage. The Puma is a fast armored car with both two small machine guns for the driver and a heavy duty cannon. Finally, the Hovership is a flying vehicle with a single cannon and chargeable lock-on swarm missiles. During a co-op campaign the second player will operate as the passenger, controlling the powerful secondary weapon separately, except for the Hoverbike challenges, where they will simply control their own.

Multiplayer

Both online (up to eight players) and local offline (up to four players, limited to two in the HD port) multiplayer can also be played, which features five different modes playable in maps based on planets in the campaign. The modes featured are Conquest (a revamped Siege from Up Your Arsenal) in which the team must capture nodes and kill enemies to score points, Capture the Flag, Deathmatch, King of the Hill and Juggernaut. Players can equip all weapons from the singleplayer mode, and pilot all vehicles depending on their chosen map.

The Insomniac Games website featured a ranked online leaderboard for registered community members, until the servers were shut down on June 28, 2012. The new servers were back up for the PlayStation 3 HD remaster, and were shut down on February 15, 2018 alongside Up Your Arsenal multiplayer.

Synopsis

Setting

Deadlocked takes place in the lawless Shadow Sector of the Solana Galaxy, a region of space in which the illegal DreadZone combat sport is filmed. Planets visited in the Shadow Sector are much less populated than those across the rest of the galaxy, and typically take on a much darker color palette. The only planet returning from a previous game is Orxon, from the original Ratchet & Clank. Events also often take place on the DreadZone Station, which features an expansive arena.

The Shadow Sector is largely disconnected from the rest of Solana politically, and is dominated by Gleeman Vox' vast media empire; Vox Industries. All weapons and armor used by Ratchet are manufactured by DreadZone, rather than Gadgetron, as are most of the enemies he encounters. The DreadZone reality show is a completely underground reality show that relies on kidnapping its contestants to make them fight to the death, but generates huge revenue and has acquired six trillion fans[1] across four galaxies.[2]

The DreadZone tournaments are also often reported by Vox News' anchormen Dallas Wanamaker and Juanita Alvaro, where they berate contestants that are performing well, while advocating for the Exterminators, a team largely endorsed by DreadZone that is responsible for murdering many of the captured heroes.

Plot

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Development

Ratchet & Clank: NEXUS concept art, the original project idea before Deadlocked.

After completing Up Your Arsenal, Insomniac tried to deviate from their roots with a grimmer story.[3] The darker tone and much of the gameplay was particularly inspired by the Halo series which was popular at the time.[4]

At first, the team began work on a title known as Ratchet & Clank: NEXUS, which would take place on a single planet, with a global conflict between two alien races in which both Ratchet and Clank had differing ideas about the war, though the project heavily changed direction and became Deadlocked.[5]

Instead, the team began work around a new concept, the idea of Ratchet being kidnapped and forced to participate in a combat sport, and the team aimed for consistent and coherent design and worldbuilding around this idea.[6] In this idea, the battlefields from Up Your Arsenal became a large focus in Deadlocked, and much of the multiplayer from the previous title was expanded upon.[7]

The tonal departure from previous games led to a shift in the art style, and Ratchet's menacing look became polarizing both inside and outside the studio.[8] The planets were designed to be moody and atmospheric, and would use glaring footlights, deep shadows, and angular architecture to resemble galactic gladiator arenas, with structures that were imposing and severe. The "Tonka truck" shape logic as well as signature panels and rivets to hold things together allowed designs to retain the Ratchet & Clank feel to them.[9] Meanwhile, vehicles were given a more aggressive look in terms of color and planar form.[10]

There are changes seen in earlier footage compared to the final release, such as Merc and Green being shown to have legs (they also have legs on the Japanese cover).[6]

Prior to releasing the game, Insomniac released promotional material in the form of The Adventures of Captain Starshield prequel webcomic, and the News Update reports on their website.

A savefile of the PS2 version of Deadlocked can be used to unlock Ratchet on the PS2 version of Jak X: Combat Racing, whereas the inverse can be used to unlock Jak as a skin on Deadlocked. The PS4 version of Jak X instead requires a savefile of Ratchet & Clank (2016 game).

The soundtrack was composed by David Bergeaud.

HD port

Deadlocked HD was developed by Idol Minds, and features the original game rescaled to 1080p, though there are no new textures, nor model refinements, and graphics match the native texture resolution on PlayStation 2. Players have noted a few issues with the cinematics, with some full motion video cinematics being improperly rescaled, in-game cinematics sometimes suffering camera and graphical glitches, and inability to turn on subtitles. There are also some framerate and technical glitches reported in the gameplay. The port features PlayStation Network multiplayer functionality, though four player local play is no longer supported and limited to two player local play, and eight player multiplayer limited to six.

While the Ratchet & Clank Collection included skins previously exclusive to the Japanese version of Up Your Arsenal, the HD edition of Deadlocked does not do the same.

Reception

Aggregator Score
GameRankings 82.64% (based on 61 reviews)[11]
Metacritic 81 (based on 51 reviews)[12]
Publication Score
Eurogamer 7/10[13]
GamePro 4.5/5[14]
GameSpot 8.6/10[15]
GameSpy 4/5[16]
IGN 8.8/10[17]

Ratchet: Deadlocked received mostly positive reviews, though it was not as well received as the previous three titles and scored lower. The departure from platform gameplay was generally accepted as the action packed gunplay and vehicles as well as the expanded multiplayer were well received, although reviewers noted the game was short and the series formula with its gun gameplay was becoming repetitive due to so many releases in a short space of time.[13][15][17][16]

The gunplay and the weaponry, as well as the two combat bots, were broadly well received. IGN praised the fact that "mindless shooting isn't always the way to win" because "using the right combination of weapons against the right set of enemies in conjunction with the smart utilization of your two robot bodyguards makes a big difference", although they expressed disappointment at weapons from Up Your Arsenal such as the Rift Inducer not returning.[17] GameSpy claimed that the series "has always been about whacked-out and over-the-top gunplay, and Deadlocked is just the next logical step in its evolution".[16] GameSpot also praised how the alpha and omega mods make weapons "more effective and more stylish".[15]

The multiplayer was a particular area that received praise, with many reviewers noting that it made up for the title's shortcomings. GameSpot claimed the multiplayer "does a great job of fluidly combining typical shooter fare with the quirky Ratchet and Clank universe" despite not being "exactly innovative".[15] GameSpy felt the multiplayer was "far more important" in Deadlocked, while IGN called the expanded multiplayer capabilities the "real focus" and both praised the offline co-op as well as the expansion on Up Your Arsenal.[17][16]

Reviewers felt that Deadlocked fell short of previous titles as it had less variety. Eurogamer claimed that "stood next to the previous games in the series it's not quite as varied and interesting, and forcing the gameplay down the cul-de-sac of almost pure combat makes for a pretty repetitive experience that may feel like an unnecessary release in the eyes of the fan base".[13] GameSpot also claimed the game "is a little on the short side, and it's quite a bit like previous games (to the point of feeling all too familiar)".[15] IGN criticised the lack of open world exploration, and claimed that "this is a shooter and melee experience through and through, and almost every last hint of platforming has been left for dead along with Chairman Drek somewhere near the orbit of Veldin".[17]

Gallery

Citations

References

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