Secret Agent Clank
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this game has content similar to other games in the Ratchet & Clank franchise. There's plenty of family-friendly humor, no coarse language, and the violence is tame and cartoonish relative to most games in which fighting occurs. Clank dances and flirts with a feminine robot, but nothing comes of it. One of the bad guys chews on a cigar.
What's it about?
After playing second fiddle for six straight adventures in the Ratchet & Clank games, Ratchet's robot sidekick finally steps into the spotlight in SECRET AGENT CLANK. His mission: Prove that his orange-furred pal is innocent of stealing a valuable gem. The investigation involves plenty of video game stealth as Clank infiltrates various locations to gather information about what really happened the night of the theft.
Players control Clank as he dodges motion sensing laser beams, dances with robot royalty, picks locks, and quietly trails gangsters. We also get the chance to take on the role of Ratchet between story missions as he defends himself in arena-style matches in prison, fighting off attacking robots and prisoners with a variey of weapons and gadgets. Other missions see players stepping into the shoes of legendary galactic pseudo-hero Quark as he misremembers some of his famous adventures, and there are still more levels in which we control Clank's gadgetbot pals and solve simple environmental puzzles.
Is it any good?
The Ratchet & Clank games, which got their start six years ago for the PlayStation 2, are among the most entertaining adventures available for Sony platforms. Their secret recipe: Old fashioned running and jumping shenanigans mixed with goofy and innovative gadgets and droll sci-fi storytelling. Unfortunately, Secret Agent Clank goes light on all three of these ingredients, supplanting much of the series' traditional action with new and awkwardly designed stealth mechanics that prove unintuitive and frustrating. Players can expect to replay some sections of early missions several times as they contend with an annoyingly unintelligent camera, work with gadgets that are difficult to deploy (such as an ink blotter that is supposed to block lasers but often fails to properly target them), and try to figure out the patterns of roving guards so they can stay out of sight. Later missions, which involve such objectives as dancing with a feminine robot and secretly trailing a mobster, are less exasperating, but still fail to capture the same freewheeling, action-packed vibe as previous games in the series.
The missions in which we take control of a character other than Clank aren't much more fun. Ratchet's arena battles are often an exercise in aggravation, thanks in part to the clumsy camera mentioned above as well as an ineffective auto-targeting system. Quark's mini-games suffer from similar issues. The best levels in the game turn out to be those in which we control the gadgetbots; little automatons that have appeared in previous Ratchet & Clank games as Clank's helpers. Players switch between gadgetbots to attack enemies, repair each other, and solve contextual puzzles, which involve objectives such as acquiring an electric charge and using it to power up bridges of energy. Unfortunately, the gadgetbot missions account for only a small portion of play.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the role of sidekicks in popular culture. What function do they serve in games? Do you ever feel badly for them because they receive less attention than their better-known buddies? If you played previous Ratchet & Clank games, did you enjoy the brief missions in which players were put in the shoes of sidekick Clank? Did you ever think you might like to play a game in which Clank was made the primary hero? Can you think of other popular sidekicks who have been given a chance to shine in a game, movie, or book of their own?