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.