Secret Agent Clank Review
Ratchet and Clank's first outing on the PSP played much like they're other games, only the overall game was shrunk down to fit the PSP (as the title suggested). Now in Secret Agent Clank, Ratchet takes a backseat to his buddy Clank, who takes on the role of a secret agent for this new adventure. Ratchet is imprisoned for having been charged with stealing a precious gem from a museum and hiding it in some unknown area. It is up to Clank to find the gem and clear his friend's name.
Playing with Clank has changed a bit from controlling him in the usual Ratchet and Clank games - this time our little robot friend knows Clank-fu, which helps to improve his arsenal of melee attacks. Clank also has several gadgets available to him for attacking and stealth purposes. He can use a tie-a-rang to take down cameras or his blackout pen to shoot ink at harmful lasers. Clank gets several newer gadgets sent to him as the game progresses much like Ratchet and his guns in the other games. He gets one gadget that will allow him to disguise himself as a hologram image of an enemy to fool other enemies.
Speaking of stealth, the gameplay for Secret Agent Clank offers many stealth situations. Clank can sneak by guards and take cover behind certain objects. He can actually disguise himself as a statue or hide in pots (literally holding leaves in front of him to mimic a plant). Stealth attacks can be used on an unaware enemy. Sneak up behind an enemy then wait for a button icon and then tap the button to initiate a quick time button press sequence. If you can finish the sequence then Clank will take down the enemy with a set of stealth attacks.
For the most part, the stealth is completely optional in the game but it is very much needed early on since Clank cannot stand up to a direct fight with some of the bigger enemies. Stealth is required in later levels at times but the sneaking portions are usually minimal. The game rewards the player for making use of stealth by giving bonuses so it is advisable to take advantage of stealth when possible. Stealth is not only found while sneaking around buildings however - later levels have you trailing behind enemies while quickly disguising Clank when the enemies turn and there are some levels where he is free to roam a certain area while disguised. The stealth aspect never does take over the gameplay - there are still plenty of action portions, platforming and a few puzzle areas every now and then.
At times, Clank will run into a few different minigames that must be played in order to continue the main adventure as he progresses through the game. One unlocking minigame has the player matching up colored pieces as they fall much like a Columns or Puzzle Fighter type game. There is also one puzzle where a cutscene plays on the screen and a button combination or set of directions will appear on the bottom. The button and direction icons will move toward an hourglass icon and each command must be tapped as it moves by the hourglass. Tapping the button or direction at the right time will increase your rhythm and allow Clank to smoothly get through the situation depicted in the sequence. Failure to press the buttons correctly a few times will result in Clank getting caught and suffering damage. I found these button sequences frustrating at times because there is no checkpoint and sometimes there are around 10 sequences that must be completed. If Clank gets defeated at the tenth one then you have to deal with all of them over once again and get the rhythm flowing through some timed button presses that you have already done. I eventually got used to each one but it takes patience. One of these sequences was an incredibly funny dancing sequence that was worth some minor frustration. There is also a snowboarding level where you must guide Clank down a snowy hill and fight off enemies while dodging other obstacles.