Why, oh why, couldn't this just have been a great PSP platform game?
It worked for Ready at Dawn with Daxter and it worked for High Impact Games with Ratchet and Clank's first PSP outing, Size Matters. These are two of the most enjoyable games on Sony's handheld, not to mention two of the most technically accomplished. Yet with Secret Agent Clank, High Impact seems to have grown tired of the good old fashioned run-and-jump action of the platformer and a little weary of the ridiculous, overpowered blasting that has always been the signature of the Ratchet and Clank series. Instead, the name of this game is variety. We get stealth, we get rhythm action, we get snowboarding, we get arena combat and puzzle action. Some of it's good, some of it's bad, but the overall result is a bit of a mess.
As you can guess from the title, the star this time isn't the furry alien engineer, Ratchet, but his robotic sidekick, Clank. This is a good thing; Clank has always been the smarter, funnier partner in the team, and his dry wit has been a highlight of the series. Fitting him up as a Bond-style super spy is a nice idea, and Secret Agent Clank runs with it by outfitting our hero in a tux, equipping him with a number of ingenious gadgets and putting some sixties spy movie tunes on the soundtrack. There are even plentiful one-liners and some subtle nods to various Bond movies - not to mention James Cameron's Bond-inspired True Lies - thrown in for good measure. It's obvious that the team had a lot of fun making the game.
The problem is that you won't always have quite so much fun playing it. The main thread takes Clank on the trail of a valuable stolen jewel. Ratchet, in case you were wondering, has been imprisoned for his apparent involvement in its disappearance. Out on his own, Clank has developed his own style of Kung-Fu, and he's also being supported by his agency, that can drop off useful items to help him evade security or dispatch hostile forces. The first level, set in a museum, involves a little platforming, but mostly revolves around stealth, with Clank sneaking past torch beams, posing as a statue and using gadgets to deactivate laser beams. While Clank can easily tackle robot guard dogs, he can quickly be overpowered by the roving security bots, so it's vital that he avoids attention.