When I interviewed one of the developers behind the recent Spy Hunter reboot for the PlayStation Vita and Nintendo 3DS, I admitted that I rarely play racing games. But after being out of power for the last few days, I wasn’t so picky with games anymore since my Vita and 3DS had plenty of juice.
I turned to the Spy Hunter game and while it was disappointing in some respects – and downright maddening in others – it provided a welcome distraction and borderlined on being fun once in a while.
In the reboot of the legendary combat driving series, you take on the role of an “Agent” who drives the G1-655 Interceptor for some government agency. You quickly learn a “global terrorist organization” is set on world domination and is being run by a leader with a scratchy voice.
In an unusual design choice, you hear their annoying voice taunting you, but when your two colleagues are helping you throughout missions, their conversations appear as on screen text. (And no, you likely won’t care who the villain is revealed to be towards the end of the game.)
Your Interceptor can turn from supercar to speedboat to off-roading SUV quite easily. If you’re playing on the 3DS as I did, the circle pad is somewhat well calibrated when controlling the three different versions of the Interceptor, though it can be an issue if you accidentally pull back on it—that causes you to see behind the car. I can’t tell you how many times I did that by accident and it almost always came at the worst moment.
The overall graphics aren’t very impressive, though that may be due to the limitations of the 3DS hardware. What was frustrating was too infrequent checkpoints, especially since oftentimes, you’ll destroy your car just by bumping a guide rail on the highway, or missing a small green arrow target that you need to hit exactly to avoid some obstacle. Racing to get to that green arrow for 4+ minutes and then missing it and then having to start all the way from the beginning is going to annoy you quickly.
(Luckily, in one of the last missions, you have to navigate a missile past walls and other obstacles. While I failed 20+ times, at least the game had the good sense to have a checkpoint right before I fired it.)
There are a few times, like the missile sequence, when you’re actually not controlling the Interceptor. You’ll fire a turret on top of a truck or you’ll control a UAV, allowing yourself to dispose of enemies on a roadway before the Interceptor travels down it.
One of my favorite aspects of the game is the ability to control what weapons you have on the Interceptor during each mission. Even as I unlocked more and more, I kept to the four I liked the best and felt did the most damage to my enemies. Upgrading was quite easy as well and I did notice a difference with my weapons when I did.
Don’t play Spy Hunter for the story. Don’t play it expecting an incredible racing game.
Play it if you want an occasionally fun time killer. Or just love shooting at other cars on the road and watching them blow up in slow mo.
Spy Hunter came out in early October for the PlayStation Vita and 3DS. It is rated T for Teen and was developed by TT Fusion.
* Disclosure: A 3DS copy of Spy Hunter was provided to this reviewer by the publisher for the purposes of this review.*