reviews\ Oct 14, 2001 at 8:00 pm

SpyHunter - PS2 - Review

Maybe you don’t know the Peter Gunn theme by name, but you would know it if you heard it – and if you’ve been in the gaming scene long enough you’ll also know it as the theme song married to the original 1983 Bally-Midway Spyhunter arcade game. Back then, Spyhunter was a sit down and run-n-gun token taker, and what an enjoyable ride it was. Sure, there wasn’t much more to it than getting out there and blowing up enemy vehicles, but it was a better alternative than road rage, right?

Well the bad guys are back in 2001, and therefore, so are you. Their name: Nostra. Their goal: world destruction. With a maniacal adhesion to the prophecies of Nostradamus (hence the name, ‘Nostra’), these villains have been painstakingly plotting the way to bring on The Four Horsemen of the apocalypse and to renew the Earth by purging (a.k.a. destroying) it. Their otherwise disturbing smugness in their plans is only marred by one thing: They also hold quite a grudge, and they haven’t forgotten how you foiled their original plans back in 1983.

So it’s up to you to save the world, and in the meantime, probably have a great time doing it with a superb vehicle and plenty of ammunition to go along with it. The new Spyhunter hasn’t lost sight of it’s original appeal: run down enemy vehicles and targets and eliminate them. However, it also adds quite a few new elements along the way. Instead of just search and destroy, you also have new items to be acquired, as well as a very strict pledge of minimizing civilian casualties (with that in mind, I wouldn’t play this game right after playing Twisted Metal: Black!). You get to do this for 14 full fields, and a test track, each demanding you successfully complete your objectives before you can move onto the next mission.

Toys, toys, wonderful toys. What’s in your arsenal this time, you ask? First of all, the G-6155 Interceptor isn’t just a car, it’s a speed boat, super-fast motorcycle, and pumped up jet-ski all in one. You’re equipped with two offensive weapons (machine guns and missiles) and two defensive weapons (oil slick and smoke) to make your way through your missions. However, don’t try button mashing or recklessly fulfilling your "need for speed" because finesse is of the essence not only to hit your targets, but to also avoid putting innocent civilians in the wake of your destruction.

Gameplay moves along at the fast and furious pace you’ve come to know and love, and level design gives you lots of avenues (both literally and figuratively) to explore and devour as quickly as you possibly can. There’s an approximate 15 second to one minute loading time each time you enter a field – and this may or may not feel cumbersome if you’re repeatedly trying to complete a mission without missing any objectives. They key is: unless you’re looking for a lot of extra practice, the minute you miss one objective, you might as well start over right away. One mistake and you’re going to have to do the field all over again – even though the game allows you to play through until time runs out or you’ve progressed through the entire field.

Midway’s new Spyhunter is no slacker in the graphics department. While not blasting graphics technology onto the Richter scale, it is evident that the game does give the capabilities a through and vigorous workout. Your vehicle (pick any form you like) always looks as sharp and as slick as any super spyhunter’s big toys should – and your accompanying gauges and consoles are so clear and well presented you’re going to wish your own car’s gauges looked so good. Even the "cardboard" dummies of vehicles in your test track are given loving attention, really adding some character to the title. Cut scenes are on par for what I’ve seen in general for better PS2 games – also on that scale somewhere between average and immaculate.

There is enough variety and challenges to field design to keep you from feeling bored – that’s a big plus. However, pros might be disappointed in only 14 missions to tackle. There are hidden fields and surprises to unlock though, so Midway has not forgotten the most devoted and persnickety of game fans. There is also a 2-player option that allows split screen action for co-operative efforts, but it’s really not as good as single player action.

All in all, Spyhunter is certainly a worthy resurrection of an old favorite. While not losing sight of the original game’s appeal, Midway has given Spyhunter fans (both old and new) an entertaining and visually impressive new adventure. Enjoy!


Gameplay: 8
Spyhunter for PS2 is just simply as fun as it’s addictive origins – with all the treats and dressings of modern gaming technology. It’s structurally sound and just challenging enough to keep you at it for hours.

Graphics: 8.5
Theeeeeeeeey’re great! Okay, well they’re a lot better than Frosted Flakes (sorry, Tony). Spyhunter gives you the great looking toys every Spyhunter needs! The scenery even has a pleasant realism.

Sound: 7
Peter Gunn is back with the rough edged group Saliva.

Difficulty: 8
Miss an objective, start over. Practice, practice, practice! This isn’t an easy game to beat – so don’t let only 14 fields fool you into thinking this is going to be a quick jaunt.

Concept: 8
The new Spyhunter comes back from its 1983 origins with a vengeance. This isn’t just an old game with new graphics slopped on – this is an all new experience with all the fun of it’s old roots.

Multiplayer: 7
A multiplayer option is available with split screen action, but it really doesn’t hold a candle to the single player experience.

Overall: 8.3
If you liked the old game, you’ll most likely like this one. If you’re new to the series, you’ll probably still enjoy this game when you give it a go round. There’s no slackers on the Midway team when it comes to Spyhunter – so take it for a test drive when you can!


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