Sadly, that’s not quite as easy as it sounds for the simple reason that the game just isn’t that well set up for tactical espionage action, however ‘lite’ it might be. There’s no MGS-style radar to help you keep track of enemies and the camera stays quite close to Clank’s back, meaning you have to constantly rotate the view with the shoulder buttons if you want to check where your enemies are headed. There are places you can hide, but they require precise positioning before you can press the relevant button, and once you’ve been spotted the only way to evade your foes seems to be to destroy them. When several security bots gang up on you, you’re chances of survival aren’t that high – particularly given an appallingly unresponsive camera – and with long stretches between checkpoints this can make the very start of the game a surprisingly frustrating affair.
And that frustration is a recurring theme throughout. Some of Clank’s levels are excellent, particularly when, as in one set over the skyscrapers of an oriental sci-fi city, our agent is making daring leaps, fending off robot ninjas, solving simple puzzles and basically reminding you of what made the Ratchet and Clank games so bloody good in the first place. Other levels will go up and down depending on your tastes. A rhythm action sequence of deadly ballroom dancing, where you try to match the right button presses to the right rhythm, is great to watch but a bit of a struggle to get through, while the subsequent snowboarding sequence goes on a little bit too long for its own good.
The one definite is that whenever stealth enters the equation, enjoyment goes out of the window. Take the level where you have to follow a dodgy underworld Kingpin through a tourist trap town. Get spotted – and it’s hard to predict when you will be – and it’s restart time. Ditto if you get too far away. With a huge gap before the checkpoint this section is already a nightmare, but for some reason, this and other levels also feature stealth takedown opportunities, where you have to creep up behind your target, press square, then repeat a button sequence within a time limit. Irritant one: you have to be in a particular position to start the takedown or you’ll simply whack the guy with your kung-fu. Irritant two: get this or the button sequence wrong, and you’re back to the restart point again. Grrr. The longer you play, the more inconsistent the difficulty level seems to get. You can’t help wondering who play tested this game and thought it all worked.