reviews\ Mar 26, 2002 at 7:00 pm

SpyHunter - XB - Review

I remember the first time I played SpyHunter. It was around 1984 in a drug store in Raleigh, North Carolina, and I remember how upset my Dad was over the fact that I had shoved nearly $8.00 of weekly allowance money in quarters into the machine because I just couldn’t stop playing it. Over the following years, SpyHunter kept resurfacing for multiple different consoles, and of course I was the proud owner of each new version which came out. Now, Spy Hunter has driven it’s way onto the PS2, Gamecube, and Xbox, with many of the same elements which rocketed it to greatness to begin with, but missing some as well.


The game revolves around an evil corporation named Nostra, whose fanatical leader is setting up to drain the world of it’s power. As the lone superspy of an anti terrorist organization, you take to the streets in your G-6155 Interceptor and run through various different countries and locations such as Venice, Germany, and The U.S. searching out and destroying vehicles and structures used by Nostra to complete their goals. The Interceptor comes heavily armed with classic offensive weapons from the coin – op game like machine guns and missles, and includes the defensive ones as well like smoke screens and oil slicks. In addition, they have added some new fancy stuff like flamethrowers or magnetic pulse cannons. Midway has kept the classic “run and gun” gaming element overall for the new resurrection of SpyHunter, and you will run through 14 various missions blowing up classic villains like “Switchblade”, which was the car whose spiked hub caps would fire out and spin the Interceptor off the road. Some new enemies have surfaced as well, like an armored semi known as “Road Hog”, and each vehicle can either be shot or rammed depending on it’s armor until it explodes. Each mission contains a primary and various secondary objectives such as providing escort or “seek and destroy” style stuff which will need to be completed to unlock the next stage and progress through the game. The Interceptor handles extremely well in all three forms of car, boat, and motorcycle … and the controls are very easy to pick up and get into.


Now, don’t read that first paragraph and run out to the store just yet … there are some issues which keep this game from being the smash hit remake that it could have been. First of all, the “run and gun” element that made SpyHunter great to begin with makes this fun as well. With the increased speed and power of gaming systems though, it also causes you to fly through the missions a little too fast … like 3 – 4 minutes each fast … and will cause most gamers out there to run through all 14 in a matter of hours.  Even though you may wind up missing one or two objectives here and there, you can pretty much complete your primary and 2 out of the three secondary objectives with ease and keep unlocking the next stage with little to no problem. On the same subject, if you need to replay a mission to complete an objective you may have missed, you have to complete the primary goal again or else it chalks it up as a “fail”. This takes some enjoyment out of it since a secondary objective may take you out of your way to complete and makes it more difficult to obtain the primary goal once again.


Graphically, I have to say that I was disappointed with this title overall. While it has some nice features and effects like the burnt shells of destroyed cars flying across the road, huge smoke trails from damaged cars, or people on foot flying over the top of the Interceptor as you run over them, the overall presentation is very dark and kind of washed out looking. The Interceptor is really nicely done and detailed, but the enemy cars are drab and there wasn’t a lot of attention or detail paid to them, which really hurt the overall effect. I also experienced numerous instances where my car almost acted like a magnet, and as I tried to run cars off the road, they would just sort of stick to me and would stay there until I slammed on the brakes or went into a weapons van. Explosions are pretty pixelated, and there were times where enemy vehicles would just vanish when destroyed rather than giving a satisfying explosion. Unlike some other titles in the Xbox library, it definitely falls short of the PS2’s version which was released a couple of months ago.


Sound wise, there are some good and not so good points about the game as well. No SpyHunter title would be complete without the ever popular Peter Gunn theme blaring in the background. They have remastered the original and included some nice remixes of the tune as well, including a version done by the rock group Saliva, who is one of my favorite bands at the moment. The in game music is nicely done as well, and adds some flavor in the background. Explosions, screeching tires, and machine gun fire sound good, but the Interceptor just emits kind of a whirring noise the whole time you are driving which sounds kind of generic. The helicopters which periodically appear will drop bombs which make the high pitched whistle found in cartoons, and sound really out of place with all of the explosions, gunfire, and screeching tires going on.


Well, all being said and done, this isn’t necessarily a BAD game, but there are other games out there which can provide a lot more enjoyment and bang for your buck. Your mission … should you choose to accept it … is to pay $50 for a somewhat average remake of a classic driving and shooting game, which will probably get beaten and possibly forgotten over the course of a weekend. If you are a SpyHunter fan of old like me, I would still recommend saving some money and chalking this one up as a rental. Happy Hunting … and this review will self destruct in 60 seconds.




Gameplay: 7.0
A fun game with easy to play controls, some REALLY high speed, and a variety of mission objectives. Unfortunately it is WAY too short and probably won’t be worth the price of admission for most, even if you get to unlock the Saliva video and the original SpyHunter game.   


Graphics: 6.5
Some really nice features and flash thrown in, overall hindered by a really dark and washed out presentation. While the Interceptor is very nicely done, other vehicles don’t seem like they got much attention. The game also seems very pixelated and definitely below average for an Xbox title.


Sound: 7.9
Great remixes of the Peter Gunn theme, and good variety of background music. Overall sound effects are pretty good, but some things like the monotonous whir of the Interceptor and Looney Tunes whistling of dropped bombs seem really out of place.


Difficulty: 6.2
While some missions may require you to go back and attempt to get more objectives completed, the game is way too easy overall. Most people will be able to fly (or drive) through this one in a matter of hours, and many enemy vehicles provide little challenge and can be destroyed just by running into them.  


Concept: 8.7
Definitely a step in the right direction for a remake. Classic gaming elements that make it fun with a modern makeover and some extra stuff tossed in to make it different at the same time. 


Multiplayer: 7.0
SpyHunter has a two player mode, which consists of racing, collecting the most SATCOMS, or even shooting the most chickens trying to cross the road. Not bad, but nothing that will leave too much of a lasting impression either.  


Overall: 6.3
As big of a SpyHunter fan as I was from back in the old days, I was really disappointed with this remake overall. Not that it wasn’t fun or I didn’t enjoy it, but it was way too short and graphically didn’t meet my expectations of a next – gen gaming title. I highly recommend that you grab this at your nearest game rental store prior to making a final commitment to purchasing it.  

Above Average

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