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Spy Hunter
Score: 94%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Midway
Developer: Paradigm Entertainment
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: Racing/ Shooter

Graphics & Sound:
Midway hopes to breathe a new 3D live into the original Spy Hunter after an 18 year hiatus, but will it be able to do so without being insulting like other 3D sequels (*Cough* Castlevania 64 *Cough*)? Midway games have fallen somewhere between mediocre and lackluster lately (*Cough* Arctic Thunder *Cough*) but if they pull it off, they could live like kings- kings I tell you!

If you could show the new Spy Hunter to players of the original 18 years ago, people would be passing out in the arcades. The new Spy Hunter looks as graphically different from the original as possible. Instead of tiny bland sprites, you get blasted by smooth 3D models. The Interceptor, (your car) now looks as good as the other games out there, and has realistic reflections and smoke effects. Overall, Spy Hunter glistens and sparkles and it is obvious that Midway put a whole-hearted effort into making the game look as good as possible. Since it takes place half on land and half on water, it is important that both sides of the game look top notch. On land, the tires smoke and the dirt flies. On water, waves splash and spray streams out of the back of the boat. The game looks great and runs smoothly at 60 frames per second, and the environments are meticulously detailed. Nothing compares to speeding through Venice shooting baddies at sunset.

Probably one of the most famous things from the original Spy Hunter was Henry Mancini's Theme From Peter Gun. And with a remake of the game, I wouldn't just expect a graphics upgrade, but a remixed theme song also. Saliva takes the job, and adds the typical Mtv rock to some repetitive lyrics to make a somewhat catchy song. The sound effects however are even better. Everything from the bullets and rockets to the squawking tires sounds great.

Here's how the game works: drive fast and try to complete mission objectives while shooting stuff. At the beginning of the game all you have to do is start a file and you are on your way to hunting spies. Spy Hunter tries to weave a story into the gameplay, but it is weak and there is only one story sequence after the first mission. Basically an evil corporation wants to destroy the world. Boring. Fortunately what is lacking in the story department is made up in the fun factor. Have you ever seen the show Viper? Same thing here. You get to drive a car loaded with weapons that can transform into four types of vehicles. Spy Hunter is through and through an arcade game which means you won't have to worry about micro-managing all of the different parts, but instead get automatic upgrades as you complete levels. The levels each have a few objectives that count as points towards unlocking new levels. This helps to break the linear style that plagues most games these days. Bonus features include two Saliva music videos, a making of feature, and developer artwork, but not the original.

Spy Hunter tends to be a hard game the first time you play it simply because of the odd control scheme, but after playing the training mission through a couple times it evens out. Most of the missions aren't all that easy, and it is rare to complete all of the objectives on the first try. Then there are those missions that are nearly impossible. I'm reminded of the one where you have to take out a stolen interceptor while trying to avoid civilians and take out radar towers at the same time. Each level hits on different points of the difficulty scale, but they aren't really in ascending order which means that you could open up a hard level and get stuck on it for a long time. Luckily you can go back and clean up the previous levels that still have objectives left to get some points to unlock another level.

Game Mechanics:
First off, the most important of the game mechanics, loading. The game loads fast- nuff said. Auto saving is also included and works smoothly and quite fast. Another bonus is that the file only takes up a skimpy 38KB. While the controls may seem awkward at first, it becomes natural after a few missions. Analog is supported also.

What Guys thinks: This game does a terrific job of paying respect to the original Spy Hunter, with a lot of throwbacks like the black gangster cars and the weapons van, but it still is able to be different enough to attract the non-hardcore audience. Also I know that the original is as old as I am, but it still rocks, so I pose the question: where is it? Come on guys, I'm sure that the Emotion Engine would be able to handle it, so why didn't you stick it in there somwhere? Other than that little defect, Spy Hunter is one of those games that you could buy without renting first and still feel good about your purchase.

-Joe Guys, GameVortex Communications
AKA Joe Labani

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