Hardly Dying

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In the original Die Hard, John McClane faces extraordinary odds that would unnerve more potent men. As an ordinary New York cop with a single pistol, he breaches a skyscraper being held hostage by thirteen machine gun equipped terrorists. Clashing with a man like this, who is nonplussed by bare feet covered in piercing glass (a fate worse than everlasting chalkboard scratching), is your worst nightmare. In many Ratchet & Clank installments, John McClane is the final boss.

That’s not to say that the climactic showdowns are impossible. In Ratchet & Clank, you accumulate a massive array of funky hi-tech weaponry, from your standard machine gun and shotgun, to the Sheepinator, which makes intimidating enemies baa-thetic, to Mr. Zurkon, a chatty robot protector. Frequent use makes weapons stronger, so at the end of the game you have enough firepower to free Tibet.

Because the head honcho villains share McClane’s high pain tolerance, they’d take a few thousand bullets to the chest before Ratchet liberated Faux China. You’ll expend the ammunition for every weapon you have during the final boss battles, yet each properly aimed blast takes out a tiny nibble of their health. This is true for many of these concluding encounters in the series and it highlights how poorly this gaming trope works with the growing arsenal of weapons.

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Determining which tool of destruction works better for particular scenarios and enemies is the crux of Ratchet & Clank’s lighthearted gunplay but its charms are lost during the concluding skirmishes. This dilemma, deeply rooted in the series’ design, is a tough one to fix. In a game where you possess dozens of munitions, all of which are accessible at a moments notice, how do you incorporate an epic showdown that doesn’t feature a damage sponge for an adversary?

Ammunition boxes spawn during battle, which is Insomniac’s – Ratchet & Clank’s developer – way of fixing the issue, but it exacerbates it if nothing else. Once bulletless, you’re left to wait for ammo crates to appear while carefully dodging a barrage of strong attacks. Sometimes the newly spawned ammo is for your weakest gun, drawing out the fight even longer.

John McClane used to be an ordinary man, not an action hero. He hasn’t stayed true to himself for over a decade and Die Hard sequels keep suffering because of it. This is in stark contrast to Ratchet & Clank. Each conventional sequel is better than the previous one because Insomniac knows that kooky guns, quirky characters, and traveling around a galaxy crammed with inspired planets is the heart of the franchise. If souring final confrontations is a necessary evil for a series that’s as pleasurable as Ratchet & Clank is, so be it.

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