Ratchet and Clank. The two go together like Fred and Ginger, Matthew Ridge and Marc Ellis, Laurel and Hardy. It’s hard to imagine a Ratchet game without the little comical tin sidekick Clank, just as it’s equally hard to imagine one without the furry eared Ratchet. Yet Secret Agent Clank aims to promote Clank from assistant to superstar!
It’s important to note from the get go that Secret Agent Clank isn’t actually developed by the normal Insomniac team. Oh no, those guys are far to busy on a little title called Resistance 2, but they’ve enlisted the very capable High Impact to continue the legacy of one of the PlayStation’s greatest platformers. The last Clank outing on PSP, featuring his Lombax buddy Ratchet in Size Matters was a great blend of bombastic weapon construction, groovy humour and sophisticated game mechanics. It also came from the team at High Impact, so hopes were high for more of the same this time around.
While there is more of the same, the biggest limiting factor and difference between this and one of the core Ratchet titles is obvious from the get-go. Clank just isn’t as much fun as Ratchet. Although the Clank sequences in something like Future Tools of Destruction break up the run-and-gun-and-destroy-everything-in-your-path normality, having an entire game based mainly around the little robot is pushing it.
That’s not to say that Secret Agent Clank isn’t a blast to play. It’s just different from what many will expect. Secret Agent finds Clank stumbling upon Ratchet being arrested for stealing a famed diamond from the local museum. Clank, having side kicked his way across the galaxy with the fur ball, decides to do a little investigating and tries to clear Ratchets’ name, and in doing so uncovers a much larger, and more dangerous plot.
The key to Secret Agent Clank lies in the title. Much like an actual secret agent, sometimes patience is a virtue. Clank, at least during the opening few stages, is encouraged to sneak around levels and surprise his unsuspecting enemies with stealth instead of balls-out gunplay. Anyone lucky enough to have been playing Metal Gear Solid 4 in the last month will be right at home patiently manipulating Clank around the levels, if a little frustrated by some annoying camera issues.
As is common in the Ratchet games, the gadgets and guns are gorgeous; although not quite on the same level as the PS3 iteration, Secret Agent Clank has one of the most brilliantly conceived arsenals in the series so far. As befitting his spy status and echoing a certain 00, Clank employs a variety of clever little weapons that range from his tie to his cuff links, to say anymore would ruin some of the experience, but suffice to say, the armaments never disappoint.
The game is loosened up a little with the inclusion of levels where you play as Ratchet or brilliantly, as Captain Quark (a first for the series). These sections do serve as nice action counterpoints to the more cerebral Clank missions. Clank is also helped on his journey by three even smaller robots called the
Gadgetbots. Harking back to the pervious PS3 game, the Gadgetbots follow Clank around and assist him whenever necessary.
Players will also take control of these handy little buggers at various stages while Clank is otherwise pre-occupied. The Gadgetbots are indeed very handy, but they do also make the game a little on the easy side, and most gamers will be able to breeze through the entire game in about ten hours, which, although not too shabby, is a little light for more experienced players.
Secret Agent Clank is a good game; it doesn’t come close to some of the series’ highpoints, but few games do. It’s still great to see our favourite wise-cracking robot getting the attention he deserves.