Heroes deserve holidays. It's real hard work risking your life to save the world, which is why Ratchet and Clank have headed off on a well-earned break.
But before they've so much as slapped on a layer of Factor 15 they find themselves caught up in another adventure, as an evil race called the Technomites kidnap a little girl called Luna. So, ditching his swimming trucks for laser pistols and with Clank in tow, Ratchet drops his strawberry daiquiri and sets off to rescue her. No rest for the furry.
The quest to save Luna unfolds through a series of levels set on different planets, with each centred on a particular location such as medical facilities, a robot factory and a farm. Each level provides a perfect blend of platform and shooting action - leap from ledge to ledge, peppering demented enemies with gunfire.
It feels great, especially as the superbly efficient controls mean you're always battling bad guys, rather than buttons. The only real difficulty is in tight spaces. Movement uses the analogue nub while the D-pad controls strafing, so juggling between the two and rotating the camera with the shoulder buttons can be murder as all hell breaks loose.
What really makes this a winner though is the sheer range of fun options on offer. Unleashing Ratchet's weaponry never gets boring. Whether it's the tangible thump of a Concussion Cannon or the unhealthy pleasure of swinging a wrench at a stumpy alien's face - it's impossible not to enjoy it. There's also a huge amount of satisfaction to be gained from upgrading and tweaking the kit. Wider barrels for a greater spread of bullets, faster rates of fire and new types of armour; there's loads to unlock or experiment with and plenty of replay value required to get it all.
CLANKS A LOT
More diversity comes in the form of Clank, Ratchet's robo-buddy. For once he's more than a sidekick as he gets his own missions to complete. He also stars in the majority of the mini-games. These challenges are unlocked during play and can be revisited as often as you like by travelling to the planet they're on (although, annoyingly, you can't just select them from a list).
They include everything from retro shooters to Lemmings-style puzzles and robo-football. All of which are hugely entertaining. The only rubbish bit? A series of daft hoverboard races that are so agonising and lifeless, a moment of developer madness is the only possible explanation for them being included at all.
But, aside from the teeth-grinding frustration of the races, this is a rewarding and varied pleasure. It's also wondrous to look at with crisp, vivid landscapes and lively enemies bursting with character. The final clincher is the excellent multiplayer options, enabling you and three friends to join up - via Ad Hoc or Infrastructure - and knock the stuffing out of each other. Wrap the whole package up into one little UMD and you have a near indispensable title for Sony's little handheld.
A constantly entertaining blast with great multiplayer that makes the PSP shine.