Review of SpyHunter
Any of you who remember the original 80’s coin-op will no doubt be wondering how the heck they could transform a very simplistic 2D race-n-shoot game that was viewed from above, into something entertaining for modern audiences..?
The developers seem to have been heavily influenced by the most popular 3D arcade racing series on the PSone – ‘Need For Speed’, both in terms of how it looks and drives; although your opponent is the clock rather than other cars.
In order to stay faithful to the original, the tracks are evenly split into road and water based courses, forcing you to drive boats too. Added to this are helicopters that drop bombs from above, vehicles that can be rammed off the road, enemies that will fire at you from all angles and that old favourite; mobile weapons truck used to replenish health and ammo.
To make this more than just a racing game there are several mission objectives to complete within a time limit. These vary from simply destroying targets, to avoiding civilian casualties, defusing bombs and attaching trackers to vehicles. Some of the items are located in secret areas that need to be found, or in very tricky locations that need a little thought and some skilful driving if they are to be reached. Completing these tasks is rewarded with essential power-ups for your vehicle and if quick enough, additional features (cheats, videos etc) are unlocked too. Each objective completed earns you a bonus credit, which unlocks subsequent levels. This adds massive replay value to each course in the game as it allows you to either just do the minimum amount to move onto the next area, or re-play it over and over until you get all the available extras. On top of this are the three different 2 player split-screen modes that will keep you and a friend amused for a while.
Considering how fast everything moves, how many enemies can be chasing or shooting at you and that pretty much everything can be blown up in spectacular fashion, it has to be said that the graphics are far better than you would expect. I found myself slowing down to take in the view on many occasions and the water effect used in the rivers is the very realistic.
Level design is nice and varied too… freeways, dusty country roads, towns, villages, canals, lakes, sewerage systems, train stations and more. The emphasis on each course is very different too, a few reminded me of those warehouse levels in ‘Driver 2’ where you are racing from building to building looking for an exit, others require very skilful driving or careful aim and a few are just about speed.
With the exception of the reversing (which seems to have a mind of its own), control of your vehicles has been simplified enough to allow you to concentrate on the action rather than worrying about how tight the next corner will be, or what gear it should be taken in. It’s a great pleasure after playing GT3 to switch your brain off for a while and just have some fun behind the wheel.
On the roads you start with a drop-dead gorgeous sports car that auto-transforms into a nimble motorbike should it get too damaged and as you hit the water it becomes a speedboat or jet-ski. Each of these handles VERY differently and offers a nice challenge and switch of pace.
Sound-wise, this is a game that should be played at high volume and preferably through a good sound system. The main tune is called the “Theme from Peter Gunn” and is instantly recognisable thanks to the number of movies its been used in (Blues Brothers, Dragnet, Lethal Weapon) and times its been in the top40 (Dwayne Eddy, The Art of Noise and now Saliva). Its got one of those riffs that gets inside your head and wont let go.
OUR PLEDGE: We promise that we have fully played 'SpyHunter' before writing this review. The scores given above are our honest opinion and were not influenced in any way by the manufacturer or distributor of the game.
This review was written by Stevie Vincent © Absolute PlayStation
Click here to view our 14 SpyHunter in-game screenshot slideshow
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