TOKYO--Southern California-based High Impact Games rocked the PSP house earlier this year with Ratchet and Clank: Size Matters. This original adventure game took Insomniac's power pair to the PSP in style with a fun adventure that looked great. The apparently insanely prolific development studio is back to kick more tail with a brand new adventure dubbed Secret Agent Clank, which stars the robotic half of the heroic duo. We had the chance to try out a very early work-in-progress version of the 2008 game at Sony's pre-TGS press event, which offered an intriguing sampling of Clank's first solo adventure.
The game's premise finds Clank in a solo adventure set after Size Matters but before the shiny action of the PlayStation 3's Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction. Why a solo adventure? It seems Ratchet's been framed for a crime and is destined to be found guilty due to some shady goings-on. Rather than let his homie go down, Clank busts out with his snappy spy duds and sets out to clear his friend's name before things go really wrong for him in prison.
The demo featured three snippets of the game, which showed off gameplay variety High Impact is going for to ensure Secret Agent Clank is more than just a Ratchet clone. The playable sections were called Neon Metropolis, Artificial History Museum, and Jack of All Trades. Neon Metropolis played out like your standard Ratchet and Clank level with Clank running through to dispatch enemies with his spy-themed weapons, explosive cufflink bombs, and a boomerang-like bow-tie projectile. The level featured a good mix of platforming and puzzle solving, which was in line with what you'd expect. Unique touches, such as Clank's minigame-like stealth takedowns on unsuspecting enemies, were also cool.
The Artificial History Museum offered a much longer minigame and found Clank sneaking past a series of security lasers. The game interface plays out like a rhythm game and has you matching button presses. If you're successful, you're rewarded with a cinematic showing Clank busting out with his sneaking skills, and you'll make it past the obstacles in front of you without taking damage. If you mess up, you'll still get the cinematic, but Clank will be sloppier and lose health.
Finally, Jack of All Trades showed off another one of the playable characters in the game, universal gas bag extreme Captain Qwark, as he fought against a boss. The galactic ham is offering a rather grand recollection of his exploits against a foe, the level's boss, to a companion. The fight is your standard boss takedown and requires you to avoid his attacks. You must also use Qwark's blaster and a vacuum gadget to snag grenades he throws at you, which you can then shoot at him. As we mentioned, Qwark is a second playable character you'll use in the adventure, with Ratchet being the third. We haven't seen what you'll do with Ratchet, but because he's in prison, we're thinking it might revolve around him not getting shivved by inmates or other such fun prison shenanigans.
The visuals in the game, though early, are already looking snazzy and headed toward the quality of graphics seen in Size Matters. High Impact clearly has a handle on the PSP, so we're anxious to see what the team can pull from the hardware. The three levels we saw were nicely put together and featured some cool flourishes, such as a laser grid sequence in the museum. The art in the game is looking sharp, sticking close to the style of the series, as well as adding in some fun flourishes with gadgets and Clank's look. The audio in the game is still coming together but has all the elements you'd expect from an R&C game. We heard the familiar sound effects and voices which, while placeholder, offered a good idea of where High Impact is going with the game.
Based on what we played, Secret Agent Clank is poised to be another PSP gem from High Impact. The game seems to be on point from the tech side of things and should come packing a good dose of humor, which are all the ingredients for a winning adventure in the R&C universe. The only downside to the game is the wait for it: Secret Agent Clank is slated to hit in 2008. Look for more on the game in the coming weeks.