|System: PS Vita|
|Dev: TT Fusion|
|Pub: Warner Bros. Interactive|
|Release: October 9, 2012|
|Players: 1 (2-4 local multiplayer on PS Vita)|
|Screen Resolution: 544p||Mild Language, Violence|
by Sean Engemann
Classic reboots and HD refurbishments seem to be making a big push of late, with nostalgia continuously gnawing at aging gamers. Surprisingly, many of these updated gems of old are given proper respect by the developers, creating a perfect blend of old school charm and modern features. TT Fusion, however, did a less-than-stellar job with the latest version of the action driving game Spy Hunter. Every area of the game feels like a first draft, and I'm left with the impression that little was done in the way of focus groups or revisions by the developer to make this game better.
A major complaint, before I even get into the game, is one I noticed when reviewing the Vita version of LEGO Batman 2 – DC Super Heroes. The Vita's graphics are far superior to the Nintendo 3DS, yet since both are handheld devices, both receive the same treatment from developers, which only hinders the potential of Sony's new portable platform. When it comes to developing games for home consoles, the PS3 and Xbox 360 are the primary recipients, and the Wii receives the watered-down version. So why is it vice-versa for the Vita and the 3DS? It's a plausible grievance, but it's a rant I'll pursue in depth at a later date.
The entire storyline of Spy Hunter is simple in concept, but it gets buried in a mess of clichés. You play a nameless, faceless, voiceless agent testing out a new vehicle called the Interceptor. Your ride is decked out with all manner of weaponry and is the epitome of an all-terrain vehicle (it even travels over water). While taking the prototype vehicle through the tutorial obstacle course, an evil syndicate with its own squadron of vehicles busts through the compound to either capture or destroy the Interceptor.
The cast of characters dives right into the abyss of cheesiness. You've got a Defense Administrator that could easily pass as a KGB agent, Hitler's twin for a Commander, and a vehicle technician that is a perfect cross between Elvis and Bruce Campbell. To top it off, the scratchy voice of the head of the sinister group who frequently interrupts your communication channel could very well be Megatron. It's one thing to poke fun at clichés for comedic purposes, but you have to wonder what designer dug up these tropes and thought it was a good idea to include them in the game.
The driving is fast and furious, with no room for a leisurely saunter through the vistas. It's basically a point-A-to-point-B ride with the constant interruption of enemy vehicles trying to whittle down your armor. Many forks split the road, but I've yet to find any advantage to the "detours," as they all merge back together into a single path anyway. There's also a distance marker that supposedly leads to a checkpoint or target, but oftentimes you'll pass that point with nothing but a new distance range popping on screen and no change in objective. And the checkpoints aren't what you might think, as they are not respawn points should you die. Nope, if you get blown to bits just a few feet from the finish line, you must replay the entire mission again. Now, I'm all for a good challenge, but there needs to be a strategy for you to take away from your lost life and improve upon. Spy Hunter does not offer this, and victory is a greater percentage of luck rather than skill.
This flaw is due to poor car control and sluggish weapons. First, the driving. The Interceptor blurs past the scenery, but handles like it's on a sheet of ice. Because of the speed, you're given little forewarning of an upcoming turn and will inevitably steer too wide. You have a handbrake option, but that takes you to the other extreme, quickly reducing your acceleration to a halt and cutting the corner too sharply.
The array of weapons available is impressive, and once you've unlocked more by completing missions you'll enjoy experimenting with different loadouts to see how the four maximum choices complement one another. Machine guns and explosive grills arm the front of the vehicle, mines and flamethrowers for the rear. Shockers, shotguns, and shredders keep enemies away from your sides, while missiles, mortars, and other high-damage-yield weapons are controlled from the car's roof. They all do a fine job incinerating enemy vehicles, but speed is the detriment in this respect also. You see, enemies close in, pull alongside, and pull ahead faster than it takes the Interceptor to stow one set of weapons and arm another. This easily gives your foes a free shot to take your health down a notch.