Sunday, February 5, 2012

Secret Agent Clank


After developing Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters, High Impact Games would return to the Ratchet & Clank series to release a second game for the PSP, Secret Agent Clank, which as the title suggests stars Clank in the main role. The game is a take-off of the in-universe Secret Agent Clank series introduced in Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal and is noted for having a James Bond theme, as it takes elements of a spy movie and runs with them. While I found it more enjoyable than the last PSP venture, I still found something off about it.

A priceless gem known as the Eye of Infinity has been stolen from the Boltaire Museum and it appears Ratchet is to blame after words spoken against Clank. With the Lombax in prison, Clank believes his friend is innocent despite evidence to the contrary. As Clank sets out to free his friend, a conspiracy unfolds as he discovers the real culprit. Meanwhile, Captain Qwark is writing a "biography" of sorts, consisting mainly of fantastic stories.

Aside from the consistently good voice acting and music, some changes have been made to the gameplay from the last installment. You are still able to upgrade weapons and select from a small wheel of weapons during battle. These weapons are more based on spy gadgets and work rather impressively, although I ran into a problem with one item that you can't refuel via vendor, the Blackout Pen; this gadget is used to disable cameras and deadly lasers with giant blobs of black ink, but you must refuel them using very special and sparsely placed crates that resemble an ink well. The armor system has also been removed, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, though you now must use Bolts on weapons for both Clank and Ratchet.

On this topic, there is a much greater variety of gameplay here than in previous Ratchet & Clank games. In addition to playing as Clank a majority of the time, there are also times where you can be Ratchet in prison fights, the Gadgebots in small puzzle segments, and Qwark as he tells an odd story. The Gadgebot segments can really get you to think sometimes, especially in certain sections later on, and the Qwark sections can be entertaining or frustrating depending on how you play them. On the other hand I found the Ratchet sections a little difficult compared to the other character-specific portions, but they are possible to get through after a number of tries. There are also times where you have to play a small rhythm game, but they don't exactly work properly due to the lack of any actual rhythm.

While the game has an interesting story, you can actually see some of the plot twists coming from a mile away (except for the big one which I will not spoil), though this doesn't take too much away from the overall experience. Near the end though, I ran into some trouble with the final boss. Since the game up until then is relatively easy, it's a bit jarring to see the difficulty suddenly spike up a bit to the point where it's nigh unbeatable. All I can say regarding this is good luck.

Secret Agent Clank is a fairly enjoyable Ratchet & Clank game, even if a few screws are loose. There is an extra bonus from having a save of the less enjoyable Size Matters, though it's only a set of skins, and just a basic knowledge of what happens throughout that game is all that's needed to understand the continuity between the handheld games. If you're looking for a decent handheld Ratchet & Clank experience, I would direct you to this game instead of the previous one. When I return to this series, time marches on.

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