Secret Agent Clank-Review

I have been a longtime fan of the Ratchet and Clank series, and insomniac have done a good job with them. After getting the first game for one Christmas, I have played all of the games, (with the exception of the filler game- ‘Quest for Booty’) and was of course excited when I discovered the sequel to Tools of Destruction would be released very soon. However, while on holidays, I purchased ‘Secret Agent Clank’ to entertain myself.

Despite being a fan of Ratchet and Clank, I am strongly opposed to the frequent ‘whoring’ (for want of a better term) of popular game franchises. Thoughts spring to mind of franchises like Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon, Final Fantasy (Insert large number here) and Mario. My fear is that Ratchet and Clank may be going the same way. Surely the Galactic rangers can do their goddamn job every once in a while and save the universe for Ratchet, but time and time again its up to our resolute Lombax and his robotic companion to save the day.

Despite these fears my fanboy mind thoroughly enjoyed Secret Agent Clank, It was $30 well spent. In the tradition of psp spin-offs, it was relatively short, measuring at about 6 planets, although it was certainly not lacking gameplay.

The game starts of with Ratchet being caught attempting to steal the ‘Eye of Infinity’ a very large, and oddly shaped diamond. Ratchet is dragged away kicking, screaming and cursing, and is chucked into Galactic Ultra-High Security, with no idea how he got their (of course). You mostly play as Clank, attempting to discover were the Eye of Infinity disappeared to afterward, but it also alternates between playing as Ratchet and fighting of potential rapists throughout the prison, and ludicrously funny Captain Qwark mission (we love you Qwark! – Space Nun)

The game uses the same engine as the previous Ratchet and Clank games, thus fans of the series will feel comfortable. As usual, the difficulty curve is done fairly well, although the first level throws you straight into the thick of things, it evens out fairly from there.

Being a spy game, (and being filled with every cliché known to man), there is a stealth aspect to the game. Usually, you have a stealth and non-stealth option, although some missions will either throw you in to an entirely non-stealth part, or an entirely stealth part.

I feel ambiguous towards stealth missions. On one hand, they can be a complete pain, but on the other, they can be quite fun. Usually stealth is limited to Stealth-only missions; in others it is often unnecessary and harder to take the stealth option.

The stealth is reasonably well done compared to the engine. However, without the mindless clutter that features heavily in other games, hiding can be quite difficult. It honestly feels like a patchwork job; a reasonbaly good patchwork job, but a patchwork job nonetheless. Sneaking comes down to keeping out of LOS or range of the enemy, not tripping lasers and not going near cameras. Movements are repetative (as you can expect from enemies that are miostly robots) and failure is costly. As said before, I frequently found times where it was easier to blow the living sh*t out of everything then it was to sneak around in the holo-monocle and silently kill everyone.

One really redeeming feature of the Clank missions, however, were the quicktime events. Every now and again, you come across an ‘unexpected mission’. In order to portray the quick thinking, you have to do several long quicktime events. Your hit/miss ratio determines what happens, and you get bonus points for consecutive succesful hits. It is a well-made system; frustrating at times, but quite ingenious. For example, one of these missions was a dance with a countess. In this dance, good timing ensured your survival in a building that fails to meet every health and safety code known to man, robot or lombax.

Back in prison, Ratchet has to deal with a corrupt warden and the millions of prisoners their to kill him. Clank managed to sneak him weapons disguised as cake, with the warden non-the-wiser. In prison, several faces make a comeback, including the thugs-4-less boss, the tyranoids, those spider robots and Slim Cognito. Showdowns with Ratchet’s numerous enemies occur in traditional arena format, with wave after wave of henchmen run crazily into your blast range. However, such battles get surprisingly difficult, and there is a large variety of different mission. My personal favorite was in the shower room, and you had to avoid getting photographed nude (thank you, black bar generator).

Onto Qwark. Honestly, the Qwark mission were the highlight of the game. They were zany, crazy, funny, ludicrous and innovative. (Spoiler Alert) They ranged from killing a giant robozilla, to saving space nuns, and running over cacti with lawnmowers. Each mission had different struggles, different objectives, and Qwark’s bullshitting was priceless.

Ultimately, it was a good game. The inherent flaws of using a non-stealth engine were compensated for, and it is an ultimately enjoyable game with good replay value. 3 and ½ stars.

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October 14, 2009 at 6:28 am Leave a comment

Renovations

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