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Which Console Did You Buy/Receive Over The Holidays?

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Game Profile
Paradigm Entertainment
GENRE: Driving
PLAYERS:   1-2
March 11, 2002
Spy Hunter: Nowhere to Run

Spy Hunter: Nowhere to Run

Spy Hunter 2

Spy Hunter 2

Spy Hunter

More in this Series
 Written by Ilan Mejer  on July 22, 2002

Full Review: An 80's arcade classic returns. The Theme of Peter Gunn is intact, is the gameplay as well?

Take a twenty-year-old arcade game, a very bad ?espionage? storyline, and a shoddy 3D racing engine, questionable mid-mission objectives, mix them together, and the result would resemble Midway's SpyHunter for the GameCube. To add insult to injury, SpyHunter is a botched port of the dated Playstation 2 original, also an underwhelming game, but at least not as technically flawed as this incarnation. SpyHunter has you once again taking control of the multi-purpose G-6155 Interceptor in an attempt to stop the evil Nostra organization from? yawn, blah blah blah. You embark upon a single player experience that spans fourteen different locations, wherein you will race against the clock to meet your mission objectives, all the time blowing away Nostra's agents, be they riding bikes, cars, boats, helicopters, or reinforced vans.

That summation of the gameplay is tragically accurate. The game successfully includes all of the original elements of SpyHunter into a next generation format. Unfortunately, the result is shallow and repetitive, much like the original would be considered by today's standards. After selecting your mission and being briefed on your objectives, you embark on a race to score as many of those objectives as possible, within the expected time, health, and ammunition constraints. Each stage has at least one primary goal that must be met and a series of secondary goals which eventually must be completed in order to unlock new stages and be rewarded with additional and/or upgraded weaponry. It is a formulaic, though logically set up and works well to balance the game at least. It also succeeds in lending a purpose to the gameplay that simply lacks the inspiration to stand alone like the arcade original did decades ago. It is a pity that these secondary mission goals are nothing more than ?shoot this?, ?blow up that?, and ?drive through this? gimmicks.

All of the weaponry and basic gameplay elements from the original SpyHunter return in full form, though not all work as well in 3D. The Interceptor's dual machine guns make a return, as well as the classic defensive weapons, the smokescreen and the oil slicks. The machine guns work well enough in the third dimension, despite the fact that they seem to have no long-range capacity, but not being able to see adequately behind you like in the original game renders the defensive weaponry almost worthless. Unlike the original arcade game, you are not locked down with these weapons. As you progress, dumb fire and seeking rockets will be added to your arsenal, and your machineguns will be adequately upgraded with new, more powerful ammunition. Should your Interceptor take too much damage, it will shatter and break down into its more agile, but physically weaker motorcycle mode. Ramping into a river or waterway will cause the Interceptor to morph into its aquatic mode, essentially with the same functionality as the standard mode but with weaker controls. Finally, scripted areas of each stage you will have the opportunity to drive into an awaiting repair truck, which will replenish your ammo, rebuild your vehicle, and set you on your way.

Apparently, as far as Midway is concerned, you cannot have a happy port of one of their games without butchering the graphics. A sloppy Xbox port might have been forgiven as a mistake. However, an equally unprofessional conversion to the GameCube is proof positive that no unintentional mistake was made. The graphics and framerate were not particularly appealing on the PS2 original. Both the GameCube and the Xbox are more capable systems from a strictly technological standpoint, and simply should not be subjected to such sluggish framerates and muddy textures. From a graphical standpoint, SpyHunter on the GameCube in no way holds up to the PS2 original. The explosions look terrible, and the water effects just don't go anywhere, not even for a game that is a year old originally.

The sound effects are quite generic. The usual accompaniment of weapons fire, explosions, car engines, and tire screeches make up the one half of the listening experience. The other half, tragically, is almost entirely composed of various remixes of the original's Theme of Peter Gunn music. It was a great track back then, and holds up just as well today, not just due to the nostalgic factor. However, the song is so blatantly overused throughout the game that it quickly begins to grate. What other music remains is sufficient to hold your attention.

Bottom Line
SpyHunter for the GameCube is an adequate, though unprofessional, extension of the original 80s arcade game. Those itching for a chance to relive the classic in updating form will snap the game up and probably enjoy it. Uncompromising action fiends would do better to rent the game before purchasing it. Nostalgia was not enough to save the experience for this gamer, however. Should a sequel emerge, it would be a nice gesture to include an emulated version of the original arcade game as an added bonus.

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