STAFF REVIEW of Spy Hunter (Xbox)

Thursday, April 11, 2002.
by Stephen Cameron

Spy Hunter Box art Now, if you are my age (31), you have fond memories of playing Spy Hunter at your local arcade or on your "adored" Commodore 64. Retro games seem to be making a huge come back these days, on various platforms with remakes of Ghosts and Goblins/Maximo (Capcom), Defender (Midway), Gauntlet (Midway), or brining back the entire Pac-Man (Namco) family, it's all good. For whatever reasons that the general public wants these "classics" back, none the less they hold a very special place in all our gaming hearts! Now for starters, I'm a huge James Bond fan, and having only this title to give me the only spy sensation on my Xbox...I'm there with bells on! Overall the game is well put together, especially the music and Midway has decided to put together one extra special touch the Xbox version that the other "ports" don't have...the classic arcade 2D version of the game for you to enjoy and love all over again, without all the cigarette burns on the arcade unit.

You'll need to fully complete the game in order to unlock the classic version of Spy Hunter or simply type in ?OGSPY? to unlock it. Talk about taking a walk down memory lane.

The small things that dent the overall rating of this title are as follows: One, you must complete all the objectives per mission in one shot. This makes it really hard to clear off all the levels, thus making you stuck on the first few levels. You have to repeat the level/mission all over if you've messed up one objective, it doesn't add them on as you complete them. This sucks. Second, the levels are too linear. You can't wander off by accident, thus making you a perfect spy. Ya right!?!?! I'm a BIG fan of the Spy Hunter franchise, and if you are a spy fan of any kind. I would highly recommend adding this title to your Xbox collection.

Now, Spy Hunter moves along very quickly on the screen, it almost has the same speed sensation, polished look and feel as Rallisport Challenge. Aside it's small pitfalls; Spy Hunter is a true blast to play. The controls are very easy to use, but I don't know how many times I've accidentally engaged the turbo system by pressing the "X" button twice, this was very upsetting because when you look at Spy Hunter in it's basic form, it's a driving game...they could have thrown the turbo on the black or white button or one of the triggers. Very bad.

This control scheme is different than the other racing/driving titles. I would have liked to have seen the gas on the right trigger and the brakes on the left. The physics in the game aren't too bad considering the vehicle travels from land the water. The car turns into a boat, then a motorcycle, very nice! The car hosts all the toys, oil slick, machine guns, it's got it all!

The gameplay overall needs work, but it's nothing you can't live with. But, some things need to be fixed on the next version.

Now as much as hate to say it, this is 95% a PS2 port. But, Midway was very clever in giving Xbox owners a little more. But, this tid bit of goodness will only appeal to an older audience. Because they've included the classic arcade version of Spy Hunter. Yes, the classic arcade 2D top scrolled version of Spy Hunter is only available exclusively to Xbox owners. But, unfortunately this wears thin fairly quickly, giving the game (the new one) an average overall graphical appeal. But, we should all be grateful that third-party publishers are bring games to the Xbox. If it weren't for them, the Xbox would be much less than it is. In our forums, I constantly see people talking about leaving the ports off the Xbox, but what they don't realise is that third-party publishers' support is very important to the future of the Xbox. Now, back to the game...The in game animation sequences are a little on the "low budget" side. Why? Because when you see animation in games like Silent Hill 2 or even Dark Summit it leaves you to wonder...what happened?

Now the graphics on the Xbox version of Spy Hunter are good (yes, even though it's a port). Whatever the PS2 can crank out, the Xbox does it better by at least 50-80%? Bar none. Making thing look that much better on the screen. Overall, use some of the Xbox's special graphical features, please. It still looks good.

Unfortunately, the game doesn?t host Dolby Digital sound. This is what I meant by taking advantage of the Xbox. Beside the superior sound quality not being there, the sounds in this game it sweet, extremely well done. It captures the spy sound (whatever that is), and makes you ready for action, with a taste of mystery along with it. It also has a remixed version of ?Peter Gunn? by Saliva, which the music video is also included on the game disc (you have to unlock that too). Once again, Midway has put together a nice package.

Larger area would be a very good addition to this game. The courses are in my opinion laid out for you. You can't wander off a street in the middle of the city. You are always magically kept on track.

Overall: 7.0 / 10
Gameplay: 8.0 / 10
Visuals: 7.0 / 10
Sound: 8.0 / 10


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