SpyHunter updated for PS2 action

Game Room

October 08, 2001|By John Roby | John Roby,SUN STAFF

The hunt is on and you're the target in the PlayStation 2 remake of the 1983 arcade classic SpyHunter.

In updating the 18-year-old title, Midway Games takes advantage of the next-generation console's brains and brawn but preserves the flavor of the original.

You play an international spy charged with foiling a terrorist cabal's plot to conquer the world. Your weapon is a silver sports car that is armed with machine guns, missiles and several defensive weapons and can transform into a speedboat. Once per level, your spy organization sends a tractor-trailer to restock your weapons and repair your damage in the highway equivalent of a mid-air refueling.

The terrorist group, Nostra International, throws an array of vehicles at you, many of which return from the original SpyHunter. Boxy black cars with drills poking from the sides try to slash your tires, and bulletproof heavy trucks try to push you off the road.

The plot advances through cut scenes but is almost beside the point, as SpyHunter ($50) is mainly about speeding and shooting.

Each of the 14 missions contains a main objective such as destroying a helicopter or tracking a convoy of trucks, and any number of secondary objectives such as collecting items while not killing civilian drivers, who don't seem to mind the gunfire and explosions in the streets.

SpyHunter's controls take several rounds of play to master. Arming and firing your many weapons involves combinations of up to six buttons. During gameplay, it's easy to mash the wrong one and see a mission objective literally go up in smoke.

But the advantage of SpyHunter's complex controls is the number of ways you can bring the fight to the enemy. When one of your missiles hits a bomb-dropping helicopter, the chopper cartwheels to the ground with satisfying secondary explosions and effects.

The 3-D action moves fast - occasionally too fast for the narrow streets of some levels - but there is little graphical slowdown. The small amount of draw-in doesn't affect the driving area.

Aside from the question of why the game isn't called "SpyHunted" or a few quirks such as your vehicle's more outlandish features (how can a boat have brakes?), "SpyHunter" delivers well-designed, speed-and-shoot gameplay. Saving the world is just a bonus.

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