Secret Agent Clank Demo Review

By Mike on 10:49 am

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So why review demos when they're free for everybody to try. There's a couple of reasons. First off, I just like too. Secondly, they can be pretty indicative of what the final game will be like. I'm a strong believer that demos should be available for all games since we can see for ourselves whether or not the game is any decent before we invest $60 in the full product. That's what has made the next gen consoles so great since their online services all offer some sort of "try before you buy" feature. Many of my game purchasing decisions were made by whether or not I liked a demo. The great thing about Sony is that they offer downloadable demos for the PSP, which was not possible for handhelds until recently.

Today's demo on tap for review is Secret Agent Clank. It's the latest in the Ratchet and Clank series. It was developed by High Impact Games (as was Size Matters) rather than series creator Insomniac. The game is fundamentally similar to the other titles in the series but with a few twists. The game starts out with Lombax hero Ratchet being arrested for stealing a rare crystal from a museum. Ratchet doesn't seem to be his usual hero self and he is thrown in prison for the crime. The primary difference between this game and others in the series is that you play as Clank, Ratchet's little robot sidekick. Clank has always been a playable character for some missions in previous titles but this is his first time as the star. It seems he's gotten a job with a spy agency and its up to him to find out what happened to Ratchet. Dressed in a James Bond-esq tux and bow-tie, Clank must infiltrate the museum to look for clues.

The demo features three playable levels. Two as Clank and one as Ratchet. In previous titles, the goal was to shoot everything in sight. However, Secret Agent Clank takes a slightly different approach. When playing as Clank, stealth is the key. You want to stay out of the guards' flashlights in order to avoid being detected. Getting caught will unleash the guards and their robot attack dogs on you. Your goal is to dodge the lights and avoid getting caught. Clank can disguise himself as statues or plant as well in certain spots to avoid being detected. If you're caught, you will have to fight your way out. Clank's primary weapon is Clank-fu, a melee attack where he can punch and kick. You can also trigger a stealth combo by sneaking up behind unsuspecting guards and pressing the correct buttons to take them out before they know what hit them. The goal is not to get in fights at all. You get a bonus for stealthy actions, which will grant you more nanotech. As in previous games, nanotech bonuses grant you more health. Clank also gathers secret spy gear to assist him, such as the tie-a-rang. Odd Job had his razor sharp hat, Clank has a razor sharp bow-tie that he can throw at enemies to take them out, or to cut cables in certain areas. Certain rooms will have laser security grids to sneak buy. The blackout pen shoots ink at the laser emitters, blinding them to allow Clank to sneak buy. Clank seems to have lost his helicopter attachment but instead he can find rocket boots to jump over high barriers.
The second level includes a new kind of gameplay to the series. Well, it's new to me anyway since I haven't played the PS2 games. The second level comprises of a rhythm game. Tools of Destruction had a similar game but this one is more in line with Patapon. A bar scrolls at the bottom with a line at one end. Hit or hold the correct buttons just as they pass through the line to allow Clank to trigger ninja stealth moves to sneak past the guards and laser grids. Miss too many and Clank will run into some trouble and take some damage. These types of games are getting very popular and I think this works very well.
There's not much to say about the third level. It's a standard Ratchet arena level where he must finish off nine rounds of baddies in a prison yard fight. Fortunately, Clank can smuggle in your lacerator gun should he find it in the first level. You also get the shard gun midway in the rounds and you have your trusty wrench from the beginning. A new weapon gained at the end of the fight allows you to use a super punch. Overall, gameplay is good for this title except for one problem which I'll get to when I discuss the technical side.

Graphics wise, Secret Agent Clank is identical to Size Matters. The game doesn't exactly use the PSP to its full potential. Presumably it uses the same engine as Size. However, graphics are still colourful and the level designs are nice. One lingering problem remains though, and that's the bad camera. Since the PSP doesn't have a second analogue stick, you have to use the shoulder buttons to readjust the camera. This isn't a problem in normal game play but it can really get in the way when you're in the thick of combat. In strafe mode, the camera can really get in the way since enemies aren't always targeted. If you're not careful, and enemy can come up behind you and you'll get hit without even realizing it. Tools of Destruction on the PS3 had an excellent camera and targeting system but not the PSP titles. Personally, I would have liked to see a targeting system similar to the one used on the N64 with the Zelda games. I use the N64 for reference since it too only had one analogue stick. The camera is really the only problem with this game, but we all know how a bad camera can ruin a great game.

Overall, I like this game. It's a nice change of pace from the traditional R&C titles. It looks good, it plays good, and the demo is pretty meaty considering some of the other once I've recently reviewed. High Impact needs to fix the camera though but overall, this is shaping up to be a decent game.

What Works:
-Clank is now the hero!
-Well designed, colourful levels.
-New stealth and rhythm modes

What Doesn't Work:
-Bad camera

Score: 8 out of 10

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