Game: Spy Hunter
Publisher/Developer: TT Fusion/Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Describe This Game in Three Words: Worse than Moonraker
Plot Synopsis: The United States government has developed an amazing new car/weapon and you get to test it out. Uh oh, bad guys that also used exclusively car-based weaponry infiltrated the project and are after you and your wonder car.
Up Up: I was very excited about Spy Hunter. The original NES release was one of my favorite games, though as a driving combat outing, I never thought it was anywhere near as fun as Bump 'n' Jump. How well does the attempt to recapture that simple, awesome game hold up?
For starters, I remain in complete awe of the graphical capabilities of the 3DS, as well as its audio. It is downright astounding the way the system churns out PS2-level graphics, and the amount of voice acting you can get on a single cartridge boggles. Everything about Spy Hunter's look is as sleek and fresh as a new James Bond movie.
Down, Down: And that's all the nice things I can say about it. This is a terrible game.
In execution alone, Spy Hunter has serious problems. The game tries to up the drama with little cut scenes, but often puts the triggers right as you need to avoid an obstacle. When you come back, it requires split-second timing to avoid hitting anything.
The levels are full of ramps that go nowhere, roads that you won't realize are dead ends until you crash into them, and an enemy AI that honestly feels like it's cheating. Your weapons all take seconds to deploy while cool but pointless animations load up, and your guns, except for the missiles, do about as much damage as hurling gummi bears at the other cars.
Oh, and the game has checkpoints that don't appear to actually do anything. Die, and be prepared to start all the way back at the beginning of the level.
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Left, Right, Left, Right: Half of the game's problems is in its horrible controls. You are forced to use the thumbstick on the 3DS, which is pretty much the bane of all existence. It is nowhere near sensitive enough to precisely drive the car, and you'll find yourself crawling along at a snail's pace to make up for it. Don't worry, doing this actually makes a lot of enemies apparently bored enough to just drive away and leave you alone.
Plus, pressing down on the thumbstick initiates the backwards look, but is so incredibly touchy you'll find yourself suddenly looking the wrong way and crashing. Why in the name of God couldn't the d-pad have also been an option?
B, A: There is one really cool thing in the game. The main bad guy, who occasionally breaks into your communications to say generic bad guy stuff, is Steve Blum. Blum also played Killer Croc in the Batman Arkham games, and he uses the exact same voice here. The first time he contacts you is in a sewer, no less. It actually makes the game a little better because you can pretend Spy Hunter takes place in an alternate dimension where Bruce Wayne became Knight Rider instead of Batman.
Start?: No, I cannot recommend this game even to hard-core Spy Hunter fans, should they exist. The storyline is empty, the gameplay is awful, and the only thing going for it is pretty scenery and a mild reminiscence of better games. It's fun to blow up cars with missiles, but you'd honestly have more fun playing the almost three-decade-old original than this technologically superior but fun-deficient descendant.