Review by JPeeples
"Let the hunt be the hunted."
Spy Hunter was released for the Sony PlayStation 2 in September of 2001. Spy Hunter was developed by Paradigm Entertainment Inc. and published by Midway. This new Spy Hunter entry takes the series where it has never been before: a 3D world. The new 3D world enhances everything that made the original game so great. The car chases, the shoot-outs, the smoke screens, everything that made the series what it is has been retained, and improved upon thanks to the new 3D world. The change to 3D has left these great aspects of the game intact, and it’s added one brand new one. Namely, the addition of level objectives. In Spy Hunter, you’ll go around the world, taking out evil as you go along, in an effort to prevent the evil Nostra corporation from taking over the world.
The series’ staple vehicle, the Interceptor, has been brought back with plenty of new additions. The car’s design is about as sleek as could be, and the car is now capable of changing into a boat, as well as a motorcycle. It only changes into a boat when you’re in water, and it’ll change into a motorcycle if you sustain too much damage. The motorcycle limits your weapons, and can’t take as much damage as the regular Interceptor, so do your best to prevent having to drive it. This won’t be as hard as you might think, the Interceptor is souped-up six ways from Sunday. The all-new Intercepter features an infinite amount of machine gun ammo for attacking ground vehicles, heat-seeking missiles for airborne ones, as well as oil slicks and smoke screens so you can blind your enemies.
As I mentioned above, the core gameplay of Spy Hunter has remained intact. Shooting the living hell out of enemy cars is still just as fun as it was in the original and blinding them with a smoke screen still gives one a sense of treachery. The only real change to the core gameplay is that more strategy is involved in attacking the enemies. Because of the 3D world, you’ll have to take a bit more time to properly aim your weapons and plan out attacks. Surprisingly, this doesn’t hurt the game. While one might think that it would disrupt the fast-paced, edge-of-your-seat action that the series is known for, it doesn’t. The amount of time needed to aim the weapons is so minute that it never really has a chance to negatively affect the gameplay. After spending some time with the game, you won’t even notice it’s there, it’ll just become second-nature.
The addition of level objectives was the one thing that worried me the most when I started to play the game. The problem with them, usually, is that they feel tacked-on, something added in without any thought going into them. They tend to not compliment the gameplay and they usually don’t fit the actual game in any way. Some games have so many level objectives, it’s easy to get sidetracked and lose sight of the actual gameplay. Thankfully, each and every level objective in the game serves a purpose. They all involve the game progressing, they all fit into the storyline, they all progress the story, and the game, in some fashion. On top of the level objectives, there are secondary objectives that are put in place in an effort to keep you on your toes. One such objective asks that you not shoot innocent vehicles, doing so will impede your progress in the game, and you’ll lose waste ammo as well. These secondary objectives are in the game to make you a better gamer, to make sure that you’re aware of your surroundings, and they will help you out in the long run if you follow them. All in all, the gameplay is a great mix of old and new that feels just like the original.
The control in Spy Hunter is pretty good, but it does have its faults. On one hand, the control is some of the most responsive I've yet seen. The game forgoes the use of the d-pad for car control, instead, the left Dual Shock stick is used; this enables you to gain more control over the Interceptor. You can go both forwards and backwards, as well as brake, all with just one stick. However, the control for weapon-switching could be better. It's a bit on the clunky side and isn't as intuitive as it could be.
The graphics in the game are simply amazing. The Interceptor is among the most detailed cars I’ve ever seen in a video game. The game makes use of some graphical tricks to really make the game sparkle. The Matrix-esque “spinning in slo-mo while standing still” camera effect is used when the car transforms into a boat, and it looks amazing. The game’s many locales are all finely detailed, each one is bathed in beautiful textures from beginning to end. Each one also has its own distinct look that helps to give each level a mood all its own.
Spy Hunter is one of the few games out there that really pays attention to the importance of music. The classic “Theme from Peter Gunn” used for the original game appears in the remake in a few forms. There’s a minorly touched-up version of the classic tune, and two versions from Saliva; one version features vocals and one is instrumental. This song, in all of its forms, fits the spy setting better than any other song ever could have. It’s good to see the song back in the remake, and it’s even better to see it given the attention it deserves.
Spy Hunter’s replay value is through the roof. The game features a laundry list of extras that put most any game to shame. These extras are earned by meeting certain goals throughout the game. The game is one of the hardest I’ve played on the PS2, it’s sure to give any gamer a run for their money, and then some. Those who stick with it will find a game that is worth the struggle, those who don’t will miss out on one of the finest games out there.
Overall, Spy Hunter is an amazing game that stays true to its roots, while adding in some gameplay mechanics to call its very own. The gameplay is fast and furious,and the graphics and sound can’t be beat. However, the control needs some work. Despite the control problems, this is one remake to remember.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 12/31/01, Updated 12/31/01
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