Secret Agent ClankESRB:
Platform: PlayStation 2
Category: Action Games
Developer: Sony Computer Entertainment
PS2 memory card/ 712kb save
Vibration function/ analog control
Clank is on a mission. His best buddy Ratchet has been framed by a ruthless enemy and jailed for a crime he did not commit. Not only that, but Ratchet's maximum security prison is full of the universes most dangerous criminals, most of whom are lining up to personally welcome Ratchet to his new home. Luckily for Ratchet he’s got Clank on the outside, and luckily for Clank he's the kind of brainy little robot who is cool under pressure and knows a thing or two about tracking people down. As Secret Agent Clank he is hot on the trail of clues to unravel the mystery and secure Ratchet’s release from jail. You will play as Clank, Ratchet, and even Captain Qwark, during your adventure to gather enough evidence to set Ratchet free and discover who framed the innocent Lombax. So how does this PSP to PS2 port fair? Read on.
Since Secret Agent Clank is a PSP title that has been transitioned to the PS2 the game's visuals are alarmingly lacking throughout its length. Unfortunately this game has some of the worst graphics I have seen on the PS2 period. You can tell that this is a handheld console title that has been increased in size to fit your TV. As a result most of the environments and levels end up looking very blocky. Don't get me wrong, it's not terrible, but it's not going to win any awards as we have all seen so much better on the very aged PS2 hardware. It is somewhat disappointing to see that the game has been put onto the PS2 with the developers opting not to add any type of visual upgrade or spice to liven things up a bit.
Technically speaking I noticed several areas of slowdown and framerate issues that did not occur in the PSP game. They usually occurred during boss or mini boss battles, which can be understandable on the PSP, but not the more powerful PS2. Even the cut scenes just looked pitiful at times which may have some gamers wondering what they were trying to watch. Another thing worth mentioning is that there were some strange glitches that precedeed and followed cutscenes on many occasions. When this happened the loading icon started to blink and the sound continued to repeat like a broken record until the scene was loaded. Although this doesn't affect the actual video itself, it does get annoying between cutscenes and it definitely seems a bit weird. The game is not unplayable with its just serviceable graphic system, but I can’t shake the feeling it could have been so much more.
To be honest I liked the game's sound better on then PSP rather than on the PS2. Using a pair of sound enveloping ear buds as opposed to listening to a surround set-up seems more appealing in this regard as I found the finer details were more evident in the ear buds. It seems as though the game uses no surround processing at all when played through a receiver and this resulted in a flat and somewhat stale aural experience. I had to cycle through my sound fields to make the game sound half decent. The actual content itself is quite good though. The voice work is top notch, along with the various spy type effects and the over the top boss fights. The menu music and overall running tune is okay, but can grate on gamers after sometime.
In Secret agent Clank you will find that you can unleash a cutting edge array of weapons and gadgets, such as Cufflink Bombs, Tie-a-Rangs, Spy Sunglasses and the ever helpful Holo-Disguise Monocle in your effort to save Ratchet. During your venture you will launch into a variety of gameplay styles from all-out action to cunning stealth and brain-busting puzzle solving. You will also drive state-of-the-art super spy vehicles including speedboats, snowboards and sports cars. The game has some fun moments, but they can marred by weak controls and a funky camera.
The games control scheme has been tweaked a bit from the PSP given the difference of the DualShock controller and the PSP itself. The results of this tweaking are mixed. The development team has added the ability to use the right analog stick for camera control, but you can definitely feel that this was a late addition given that it just doesn't feel right. On numerous occasions I tried to swivel the camera to improve my view but it seemed to get stuck on a corner or take off in a disorienting way. The issue is made worse by the fact the default view is in-close and behind Clank which obscures most of the in-game environments and enemies. There will be plenty of times that you're running around throwing your arsenal at an off screen enemy, hoping that the weapons are connecting. The rest of the controls work most of the time, but you may have some trouble getting the main character to run. I found if you use the d-pad you should be good to go as it works the best when controlling any characters. For some reason when trying to use the analog stick walking sometimes pauses right in the middle of a movement. It’s like a stutter step and it can be quite confusing as to the cause, but if you stick to the d-pad this will not be an issue.
Thankfully the game has a huge amount of cool weapons and upgrades for both Ratchet and Clank. Although you use Clank most of the game, Ratchet has some pretty creative weapons and upgraded punches. Of course Clank also has lots of imaginative weapons and toys that any spy fan would enjoy. I actually smiled at the use of his dangerous bow ties and ink pen and surprisingly there is even more special stuff only a wannabe spy would love to have. This is the meat of Secret Agent Clank and if you can get by its unpolished and rough exterior you will find this is what makes the franchise fun at its core.
One other point about the gameplay, you will at some point find a mini Guitar Hero type game. It is here you’ll need to get Clank past certain points in the game and areas by beating bosses to get more information. You will press a number of button sequences to the beat of the music being played. The beat seems a little off at times, and could turn many gamers off of this type of game play, but practice makes perfect!
Overall the gameplay in Clank is what helps this game from falling straight onto back. The inclusion of interesting items and the original story help to keep you looking somewhat beyond all the negative points that are found here.
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