By Louise Yang . June 27, 2008 . 4:52pm
Secret Agent Clank sounds like a good idea: take the mechanical sidekick from a popular action/platformer/3rd person shooter and put him in his own game focusing in stealth. Unfortunately, its execution makes it frustrating to play the actual stealth parts.
The main thing that scares me away from third person games is the camera. I didn't remember having too much of a problem with it in any of the main Ratchet and Clank games so I wrongly thought it would be okay in this game. The camera is horrendous. In a stealth game, you need to be able to know where you're sneaking to and what's around you. Too bad you can't do this in this game because as soon as you back up against the wall, the camera becomes all but immovable. This does no good when the camera is stuck in an awkward angle and all you can see is the corner of a step.
Considering sneaking around is the main point of the game, the controls could be a little more polished. Jumping onto ledges with the wacky camera physics gets frustrating quickly. Trying to aim different weapons with the auto-aim needs to be smarter. I've caught myself yelling, "No stupid, aim at the GUY I'M LOOKING AT" way too many times. Luckily, there's a first person mode for aiming most weapons, which works a bit better since the auto-aim is fidgety at times.
It's a shame that the game starts off with such a shaky start because after getting through the first mission, the game gets 10x better. I was afraid that the whole game would be about sneaking around and fighting the camera, but there are enough missions with a variety of gameplay that makes up for the stealth portion.
Some of the different missions include Gadgebots. They're little robots that players can control throughout a stage and give orders to. Most of their stages have more of a puzzle-like feel to it where you have to figure out how to get to the next area or get past obstacles. Think of it as simple squad-based gameplay with puzzles.
Although the game is called Secret Agent Clank, Ratchet is still a playable character in the game. His missions were more of the "destroy everything you can with big guns in the arena" type, which while fun for a while, gets tiresome. The camera is still clumsy in these missions, but most weapons have enough spread or damage power so you don't have to be too accurate with your aiming. It's a great change to play something so full of over-the-top damage dealing after a stealth mission, but I wouldn't want to play Ratchet's missions one after the other.
Also making an appearance is everyone's favorite Super Hero, Captain Qwark. His missions are probably my favorite because they're so exaggerated and silly. Most of the game's boss fights are in Qwark's missions and the idea behind it is that Qwark is recounting his brave battles to an interviewer, so the player is actually playing through Qwark's version of the fight. In Qwark's typical fashion, he embellishes things and takes lots of liberty with facts during his story; in one battle, the boss ended being insanely big.
My least favorite missions are the ones with rhythm elements. The game turns into a mini musical rhythm game where players have to press buttons in rhythm to the music in order to execute ninja-like maneuvers. This may sound like a good idea, but after restarting the same mission for the third time and having to watch all the scenes play out, it gets frustrating. I would have preferred these missions to be QTE's instead so I could get them over with faster.
Secret Agent Clank may not be the best stealth game around, but thanks to the silliness in the game as well as some variety in missions, the game turns out to be pretty engaging. Fans of the series won't be disappointed by the humor and if they can get past the bad camera, might even consider the game to be a worthy contribution to the collection.
Images courtesy of Sony Computer Entertainment.