Review by MetalIceWolf
The name's Clank.....Secret Agent Clank.
Sometimes, side characters are given their own spin-off games, which are specially titled to them and are about them. Daxter, for instance, from the popular Jak series, got his own game on the PSP, and it turned out really well. I knew then that it would not be long before Clank, of the equally popular Ratchet series, would also get his own game. Now, High Impact Games, the creators of Size Matters ( the first Ratchet game on the PSP), are back with Secret Agent Clank, a game that features the lovable, intelligent cute little robot that served as Ratchet's backpack in the other games. As Clank, you'll be using his special gadgets, fighting moves and stealth tactics to vanquish the enemy.
Ratchet has broken into a museum and stolen the "Eye of Infinity." Because of this, Ratchet is locked up in jail. Clank, hearing about this news, refuses to believe that his best friend Ratchet would do such a thing, though identity scans confirm that it really was Ratchet and not a fake. Clank sets out on the quest to find out who was the real thief of the Eye of Infinity and prove that his friend Ratchet isn't guilty. Meanwhile, friendly hero Qwark is busy telling stories of his "amazing adventures" to Barney, a robot that jots all of the stuff told by Qwark on a notepad, so that he could get it published as his auto-biography. Ratchet, being stuck in jail without any memories of what had happened, is surrounded by a bunch of angry robots and creatures who he'd help put there in the first place. The story consists of plenty of funny moments, and is definitely one of the funniest of the Ratchet games so far. I enjoyed the story and the constant switching between characters.
The controls are really easy and just like all of the Ratchet games. Control stick is for moving, control pad is for strafing, X is for jumping, Triangle brings up the weapon menu selection, Circle is for firing/using your equipped weapon, Square is for the melee attack, while L/R controls the camera. Start button brings up the menu where you can select various things there. I never had a problem with the controls, aside from a few camera issues that seldom happened.
The music isn't very memorable, aside from the rhythm levels which have nice tunes. The music does fit well with the theme, which is a spy/secret undercover agent type of thing. The sound effects are great, the sounds of the blasting of weapons, explosion of bombs, and the sirens going off when detected, are all really cool.
The graphics look beautiful and are slightly improved from the previous Ratchet game on the PSP. The cutscenes are great, the characters and environments are awesome, and everything looks the way it should be, with plenty of polish and shine.
The game has various types of gameplay into it. The entire game is split between three characters, Clank, Ratchet and Qwark. You'll spend most of your time playing as Clank, though there are lots of missions for you to do as both Ratchet and Qwark. Clank's gameplay consists of four types: platforming/stealth, racing, gadgebot controlling, space shooting and rhythm levels. Ratchet's gameplay consists of arena fighting levels, while Qwark's levels are battles in a comedic fashion.
Clank's platforming levels are the main meat of the gameplay. As Clank, you'll use cool weapons like bow-tie boomerangs, a flame-sprouting suitcase, cuff link bombs, a umbrella that shoots lightning and many more. Aside from the weapons there's melee attacks, which can also be performed on enemies when you sneak up behind them and press square (then you'll quickly tap the buttons that appear on the screen in order to finish off an enemy.) You can go through most of the game shooting everything in sight, or you can go the stealthy route and try your best not to be seen. Special items like the blackout pen (which removes lasers) and the Holo-monocle(which allows you to take a picture of an enemy and disguise yourself as it), makes stealth much easier. There is also a small mini-game, "lock picking", where you will play a tetris-like game. There's also the finding of the platinum bolts which are scattered throughout the levels, and special "alien codes" which you will be able to find after you beat the game (these codes, when found, unlock a secret area.)
The racing levels are really fun, and consist of snowboarding and a few others. There's a space shooting level in the game where you play as giant robot Clank. The gadgebot levels have you controlling three gadgebots, which will have you do things like charge electrical currents and bite into switches or even disguise them as an enemy (using parts of the defeated robot) in order to get past security doors. I found these levels really fun, and a bit puzzling. There's three rhythm levels, and, unfortunately, they are annoying. In Guitar Hero/DDR style, you'll have to correctly press the large amount of buttons that come up, in the exact order. The scenes that occur during these events are really cool though. They may frustrate many players though, and they did take me a few tries, so it would have been better if they weren't required.
Ratchet's gameplay is all shooting in arenas. Endless hordes of enemies will come at Ratchet and he'll have to make use of his weapons (which are found and bought by Clank and sent to him as 'cakes') in order to dispose of the enemies. While the shooting and upgrading of weapons is fun, it gets repetitive and makes you wish Ratchet had his own "exploring" levels too.
Qwark's levels are really fun and amusing. Qwark is telling his famous stories of all of the grand adventures and things he's done, like defeating a large group of giant robot ninjas, space nuns and orphans, etc, and you must actually play them out as Qwark tells them. The levels are really cool, especially the musical level, where Qwark sings while you're on the stage blasting out the enemies as the curtain falls and a new themed area and enemies appear. It's funny stuff.
The gameplay is fine overall, I just didn't like the rhythm challenges, Ratchet's gameplay could have been better besides being stuck in an arena, and most of the game itself is repetitive. The stealth gameplay doesn't feel right with Clank either. Sure, it may be fun to some people, but it doesn't really suit this type of game, but thankfully it isn't always required, though there are times when it is necessary. The stealth makes the game slower, which is way different from the Ratchet games. Majority of the game, though, is basically a bunch of minigames all crammed up into one bunch. The game is short, but does have a nice bit of replay value, though it's not as much (or as worthwhile) as the other Ratchet games.
Overall, Secret Agent Clank is a good game. But it's just one of the weakest in the Ratchet series. I'd still recommend it to big fans of the Ratchet games though, or those of you who like platforming, shooting, and stealth mixed into one. But those of you who are unsure, or have never played a Ratchet game before, would be better off with Size Matters or one of the other Ratchet games.
Rating: 3.5 - Good
Product Release: Secret Agent Clank (US, 06/17/08)
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