I'm a little loath to admit it, but I'm definitely old (or should I say ancient?) enough to remember SpyHunter from its arcade days. It was never a favorite of mine, but I did enjoy plunking a few quarters into it every now and then. While my score and Dale's aren't too far apart, I think that I ended up liking the game a lot more than he did. I certainly wouldn't say that it was just a game where the "visuals are pretty and the gameplay isn't a step backward" mainly because I think it would be pretty hard to go a step backwards from the original SpyHunter's shoot/drive simplicity, and also because I perceive the new, updated SpyHunter to be a very logical progression of the source material.
While I don't recall any significant chop in the framerate , the graphics are very sharp, and the car itself does look like a superfine piece of high-octane machinery. The gameplay was just as smooth and polished, with the car's control and lock-on function being a breeze to handle for the most part. One odd thing about the car's performance I did notice was that the Interceptor may indeed be a super-high-tech anti-espionage all-terrain vehicle, the thing sure wasn't made to turn around. You're an invincible death-dealer moving forward, but if you accidentally zoom past an objective, it feels like your badass spy car turns into a leaky tugboat while trying to turn around. I mention this mainly because Dale's observation that the game is something like a moving shooting gallery is highly accurate. You don't really want to miss many targets while going forward.
Where I disagree the most with Dale is his feeling that SpyHunter's gameplay doesn't progress far enough past the original. Personally, I thought that it did progress quite a bit compared to the first game, yet retained enough of the fast-paced energy and simplicity that it remains an obvious update rather than an entirely new, unrelated game with the same title. It perfectly captures the racing, arcade-style action that I would expect from something carrying the SpyHunter name, while also becoming something more complex and satisfying than a simple graphics upgrade. Those old-style arcade games just don't measure up to today's standards, but I thought that SpyHunter struck a perfect balance between old and new.
Overall, I thought the game succeeded where other remakes have failed by not only taking advantage of current technology, but also by retaining the enjoyable gameplay that made the source material such a hit in the first place. This is something that has posed considerable difficulty for other developers trying to mine the past for gems, but Paradigm scores a hit here.
Disclaimer: This review is based on the PlayStation 2 version of the game.
Currently, he's got about 42 minutes a night to play because adulting is a timesuck, but despite that, he's a happily married guy with two kids who both have better K/D ratios than he does.
Brad still loves Transformers, he's on Marvel Puzzle Quest when nobody at the office is looking, and his favorite game of all time is the first Mass Effect -- and he thought the trilogy's ending was Just Fine, Thanks.
Follow Brad on Twitter at @BradGallaway