Seeing old games return on new platforms is always an entertaining thing that never really has the same stigma as when Hollywood opts to remake a classic film. Bringing back an old video game is certainly a playing it safe type of thing, but at the same time such a move does result in fans being happy and a new generation of gamers get the chance to experience a particular franchise for the first time. At E3 this year I was able to play a new version of game that seemingly has been around as long as Pac-Man and Mario, none other than the legendary action series Spy Hunter.
As was previously announced, Spy Hunter is returning via WB Games in a new game that sees the franchise returning on the PlayStation Vita and Nintendo 3DS. Devoid of any 3rd person elements that star a former wrestler, the new Spy Hunter game is keeping it old school and I could certainly attest to such having played the E3 2012 demo.
Very reminiscent of the old Midway Spy Hunter games that appeared on the PS2, the new Spy Hunter game is basically straight forward vehicular action with a James Bond twist. Once again in control of the ever sleek and always nifty Interceptor, I partook in a mission which saw me chasing some shady types down a sewer and then subsequently trying to escape said sewer once some bad stuff started to happen.
The first half of the mission was basic as I simply had to drive down a sewer in the Interceptor’s alt boat mode and enjoy blowing up the minions of a Doctor Klaw inspired baddie. Playing the game on the Vita was in itself easy as the controls were mostly responsive save for a somewhat touchy mechanic of touching the Vita’s rear touchpad to look behind me. There was some nice weapon variety as prior to the mission I could outfit different weapons to specific buttons, thus allowing me to mix things up with the various weapons the Interceptor can be outfitted with. The particular mission I played didn’t require any specific weapons or tactics other than just driving fast and shooting stuff up with the machineguns. Basically it was a good time to be had.
A mid-level switcheroo did occur as once I reached the end of the sewer I was greeted with the not so great surprise of poisonous gas being sprayed into the place. It seems that despite all the functions of the Interceptor the thing isn’t airtight so I had to buck it out of there as fast as I could otherwise I would go kaboom and have the resting place of a multi-million dollar piece of spy equipment be a dank sewer. The sudden gameplay twist did present a nice change of pace as I had to be more skillful in my driving due to the added inclusion of mines in the sewer. But being the would-be spy master that I am, I found an alternate route that allowed me to bypass most of the mines while still being able to blow stuff up.
Once I exited the sewer I found myself driving in an industrial area in the classic Interceptor form as opposed to the aforementioned boat mode. Again I was greeted with some familiar action that really didn’t consist of much other than trying to blow stuff up and not running into any of the cars that were giving me a hassle. Unfortunately my high octane spy mission came to an end as I had the distinct honor of suddenly crashing the game, of which I was told I was the first person to do so. I swear I wasn’t doing some kind of SPECTRE style sabotage mission.
Aside from how straightforward and familiar the action was, the one thing that really stood out about Spy Hunter is that the game seems very early in development and by early I mean I was surprised that the game was actually playable at E3. Far from being done, the visuals on the Vita were a bit rough in a few areas as textures were simple and the framerate was a bit hitchy. In a few areas it honestly seemed as if I was playing a 3DS game that was directly ported on the Vita as the game didn’t seem to be pushing the power of the handheld at all. Again, I understood that I was playing a game that was still early in its lifecycle, as evident by the sudden game crash I encountered, but I hope in the end the game will have a better look to it then literally looking like the PS2-era Spy Hunter game.
In the area where it matters most Spy Hunter managed to impress me since the demo was fun despite being rough around the edges. Seeing as how there aren’t too many vehicular action games on the market these days and how the Vita is in a mild dry spell when it comes to compelling software, I think Spy Hunter has a decent shot at establishing an audience since it’s basically a classic video game update with a few modern twists.
Spy Hunter will be available for the PlayStation Vita and Nintendo 3DS later this year.