I competed against various members of SCEA, High Impact Games, and other members of the press today in Rachet & Clank: Size Matters' Infrastructure multiplayer mode. Having become comfortable with the controls in single-player certainly helped the experience quite a bit, as I was raking up the kills, quickly becoming number one in the leaderboard (that position was unfortunately lost over time). The online interface is easy enough, and seems unchanged from the multiplayer beta that I participated in months ago. However, there were a few glitches in the process: some games were simply impossible to join, unless it was through the game's Quick Game option. Also, typing messages in the chat room is quite a troublesome burden, simply because of the game's reliance on the PSP's default on-screen keyboard. I found it quite easy to accidentally disconnect from a room while chatting, so I opted out altogether.
The actual online gameplay was smooth, and surprisingly responsive. There wasn't any noticeable lag, and the graphics were on par with the impressive single-player graphics. The weapons are varied, as they are in the story mode, and can be upgraded through secret power-ups scattered throughout the level. However, the variety in weapons reveals that the game might not be too well-balanced, as certain weapons easily outclass others. One game ended in quite a bit of frustration, due to a camping sniper. While these kind of problems are common with online multiplayer games, it was surprising, and somewhat distressing to see.
Also, each game is limited to four players. After an hour of play time, I have to admit that this simply isn't enough to enjoy the multiplayer potential. Levels seem slightly too large for only four players, especially in objective-based modes, where you will only have one partner. Personally, I found the objectives of Iron Lombax mode to be unclear. It would've been helpful to have more guidance to the next objective, a la Unreal Tournament.
Ratchet & Clank's online multiplayer is not going to redefine online gaming. However, it is still an impressive effort, especially for a portable system. It's nice to see the developers include such a solid, but imperfect, experience ... and have it playable worldwide via Infrastructure. You'll be able to log-in and fight when the game ships next week. Expect a complete PSP Fanboy review soon. And don't forget to read past the cut to see all the multiplayer modes available in the game.