Secret Agent Clank
Game: Secret Agent Clank
There are certain gaming franchises that can be counted on to deliver a great gaming experience every time; series like Zelda and Final Fantasy spring right to mind. And then there are those IPs that are best thought of as two-faced - sometimes you get an amazing game, sometimes you get, well, something less. Since they were first introduced in 2002 on the PlayStation 2, Ratchet and Clank have had varying degrees of success in terms of how much fun their games are. Take for example Ratchet and Clank: Tools of Destruction, which is still one of the best games available for the PS3. But then you also have to remember that these two heroes were ported to the PS2 for Ratchet and Clank: Size Matters, and I feel the less we say about that one, the better. Now Insomniac has released to us Secret Agent Clank, which, sad to say, falls more towards the lower end of the spectrum of fun.
Chronologically set after Size Matters but before Tools of Destruction, the game has you playing primarily as Clank, the robotic half of the duo, who must investigate who has framed Ratchet for the theft of the “Eye of Infinity”. Ratchet is behind bars, and Clank is on the case! During the investigation, Clank travels across the galaxy and uncovers a sinister plot to destroy every planet in the galaxy. Meanwhile, in prison, Ratchet must face off against a rogue’s gallery of familiar foes, most of whom are in prison because of him. Switching back and forth from Ratchet to Clank was actually one of the game’s better devices, as sticking too long with either of the storylines would have likely slowed the game down. But for the most part, the story lacks the kind of punch necessary to create a sense of urgency, nor does the player feel that the stakes are ever raised. Also, the game relies too heavily on Ratchet's "humorous" comments, which fall flat almost every time.
Most levels follow the platform formula of start at Point (A) and move in a linear fashion to Checkpoint (B), which will eventually be replaced by End of Level (C). There are certain levels that play like interactive cut-scenes, with rhythm game controls (like those seen in Fusion Frenzy or Viva Pinata: Party Animals) moving Clank through the level. To me, these levels were completely out of place, and more than a little annoying, It wasn’t much fun to look down a long hallway filled with laser trip-wires and security bots, only to discover that there is a pre-determined path through it.
Graphically the game doesn’t pack much of a wallop. It looks good, but having played God of War: Chains of Olympus for a little while I know what the PSP is capable of, and Clank doesn’t get close. The character models are very cartoony, with the usual Ratchet and Clank motif of wise-cracking anthropomorphized creatures and robotic animals. The level design is wholly lackluster, reminding me more of PS1 games than anything current-gen; think Spyro the Dragon or Gex the Gecko. Camera controls are spotty at times, the end result being that you will find yourself climbing the same stack of blocks four or five times in a row because you’ll fall through a hole the camera didn’t reveal. The game’s sound was, for me, one of the weakest elements it had going for it. The final sound mixdown is awful. Certain sound elements, like enemies exploding or certain punches, nearly blow out my earbuds. But almost every word of cut-scene dialogue, in-game conversations, and Clank’s “wisecracks” are barely audible.
Overall, Secret Agent Clank is a subpar entry in a normally solid franchise. Lousy story, terrible audio, and inconsistent design combine to make what is, in my opinion, the weakest game under the Ratchet and Clank banner. If you’re looking for a fun PSP platformer, go with the other broken-up Sony duo and grab Daxter. Otherwise, just grab Chains of Olympus.
- Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools Of Destruction
- God of War: Chains of Olympus - PSP
- Secret Agent Clank Gets Official Release Date