The golden age of the arcade is certainly over, but that doesn’t mean old classics need to be forgotten. That’s exactly why we are now getting another reboot of the Spy Hunter franchise. That’s right! Midway may no longer exist, but this time it’s the good folks at WB Games and TT Fusion that cooked up this reintroduction to the Action-Driving game that was so addictive back in the day. Was reviving this franchise worth the effort, or should this spy remain in the dark?
This is actually the second time this franchise is rebooted. While the original came out on arcade and various machines back in 1983, Midway had decided to give it a proper reboot back in 2001. While the result was a mixed bag, many enjoyed the nostalgia trip brought on by the experience. For this 2012 edition, TT Fusion has mostly played it safe. It doesn’t exactly reinvent the wheel. You’re still a nameless agent driving a particularly awesome car that would make Optimus Prime jealous. As usual, the player is given various missions to complete, but no real narrative aspect is present to keep you engaged. As a result of that, you may find the campaign mode a little bit bland, feeling more like an extended tutorial than anything else.
"This franchise deserves better."
The car you drive, the Interceptor, can do practically anything to get you out of a sour situation. You can transform into a boat and drop off a bridge to flee your opponents on water. Or, how about using a blinding flash of light to cause everyone around you to lose control of their vehicle and crash into walls. You can even fire up a flamethrower to burn down hordes of enemies, and many more things. All of that would be really nice if it wasn’t for the twitchy controls that just don’t work well with the 3DS’ circle pad. Precision driving requires slight pushes, but in the heat of the action, the controls simply feel loose, and you’ll often find yourself crashing into various things despite trying hard to avoid them. Fighting a ton of enemies may be fun, but fighting with the controls isn’t. To add insult to the injury, various collision bugs and problems were left in the game, which caused me to fail my mission unfairly more than a few times.
While the core gameplay is fun, the game simply feels cheap and rushed; the more I played it, the more I noticed how little variety there was. After playing it for 2 hours, I started wondering if I was given a demo version rather than a copy of the full game. The content is simply way too light. Not only does the campaign feel repetitive, as the game seems happy to simply throw more enemies at you with each new mission (instead of having a fair difficulty curve and varied objectives), but the single player mode is pretty much all you have! The game offers absolutely no multiplayer options, save for a measly street pass feature that I couldn’t even try due to being unable to find someone else who had the game. The only thing you can really do after finishing the short campaign is to try to unlock the 25 “performances”, which are basically the game’s version of achievements/trophies.
Graphically, Spy Hunter also seems to suffer from a lack of polish. The reflections on cars can be nice, but the uninspired track design falls flat, and the unstable framerate (especially while playing in 3D) can really ruin it for some. The 3D remains pretty discreet - which is a good thing for racing games since 3D effects can be distracting - but turning it off is definitely the best option. Not only does that cause the framerate to increase to an acceptable level, but it also makes the visuals sharper and cleaner. Either way, we’ve already seen a lot better graphics on Nintendo’s handheld, even from launch titles. On the audio side of things, it’s not much better. Nostalgic gamers will be happy to hear some classic tunes, but the voice acting is rare and unfortunately not very good. As for the sound effects, they’re competent without exactly being noteworthy at any point.
No matter how I look at it, it would be hard for me to recommend this game to anyone, unless you’re desperate for a new racing game on the 3DS or are simply a huge Spy Hunter fan. The saddest part is that I could see glimpses of a genuinely good game under all of the imperfections, but the lack of content, the frustrating controls and the overall lack of polish caused this game to get stale very quickly. This franchise deserves better.
Release date : 2012-10-09
Publisher : Warner Games
Developer : TT Fusion
Gameplay : Action
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