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April 23, 2004
Spy Hunter 2 - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
5/3/2004Red AntMidway1-2GMedium
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen

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Check the game time.
For those who came in late, Spy Hunter 2 is the follow-up to Spy Hunter, the PS2 version of the classic arcade game (which was later ported to the Atari 2600, Colecovision, and other consoles of that era). The original was a top down action game, where your spy car had guns mounted on it, and you drove along an endless road shooting the bad guys. It was the 80s, videogames were simple, and Spy Hunter was one of the best games around at the time. While old-school games have their charm and place on the shelf today, much more is needed in videogames these days than just Ďshooting bad guysí. So has Spy Hunter 2 improved on the above-average PS2 title Spy Hunter before it? Certain aspects have improved, but unfortunately the overall result isnít very spectacular at all.

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Very average graphics, sadly.
You are greeted to Spy Hunter 2 with a flashy, FMV introduction not dissimilar to something out of a Bond movie (minus the Bond girls though, which is a shame). Itís loud, pretty, and shows off many explosions, and is backed up with a cheesy midi rip-off of the Peter Gunn theme. The menu system is sleek and functional, and offers not only campaign mode, but also a 2-player co-operative mode right from the outset. It looks good from the outset, but it soon starts to crumble at the edges...

The main menu immediately greets you with several game modes, with campaign mode atop the list. ĎCampaign modeí; that implies that thereís a story, right? Well, yes and no... There is a story per se, but whether you absorb it or not is another question. Given the huge storage capacity of the DVD-ROM that the game is stored on, and the power of the PS2 to be able to generate real-time story scenes, in a fit of madness Midway thought they could do betterÖ by telling the story via text blocks on the loading scene. Now, if youíre old and frail like me, and think that game loading is for toilet breaks and fetching cold drinks, youíre obviously going to miss the story. But given that Iím reviewing this game to let you know about it, I figured Iíd sacrifice my bladder and drinks to find out what the story is about...

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The ice stage...
Now, just for the record, I did read all the storyline blocks of text, and watched the entire 2 (yes, thatís TWO!) storyline-based movie scenes, and I still canít remember what on earth the game was all about. Yes, I blew lots of stuff up. Yes, my car transformed into a boat and car and skimobile several times. Yes, I drove some more, and blew up even more stuff. But Iíll be darned what I blew up and where; the game just seemed to meld into an explosive race to the end of each stage. Possibly people with some imagination and a memory for people and places might find the story more exciting than I did, but I found it lacking in attraction and content.

Looking at the screenshots, it seems pretty obvious what the gameplay in Spy Hunter 2 involves; driving and shooting. Unfortunately, there isnít much more involved than that; Midway has tried to incorporate extra little touches such as shortcuts and dynamic (ie exploding) scenery, but this falls short in adding variety to a gameplay style that is best left to the games of yesteryear. The gameplay is extremely linear, and unless you get flipped around or tangled up in some scenery, there isnít really any reason *not* to keep the accelerator floored and missiles firing down the never-ending road until youíve reached the end of the level. And then you do it again. And again. And again.

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The green road stage...
I remember hiring the first Spy Hunter for the PS2 soon after it came out, and being disappointed at the graphics; while it was an enjoyable driving shoot-em-up, it looked little more than a pretty PSOne game. Sadly, the graphics have only improved marginally, and go from average to woeful in the split-screen 2-player modes. Certain graphical aspects of Spy Hunter 2 are well done; there are more explosions and smoke effects than you can poke a stick at and many of the missiles and their trails are well implemented. The concealed weapon compartments open and transform seamlessly from the car body, though because of the angles and the screen view, you rarely get to appreciate it. These small touches are well done, however itís a shame that the bulk of the graphics are based upon simplistic models with some very poor textures in some stages.

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On the train tracks.
The audio in the game is nothing special; one thing youíre going to want to do pronto is to dampen the sound effects with respect to the music; the explosions soon drown out the in-game blend of techno-pop and rock playing throughout the game. Fortunately the Peter Gunn rip-off present in the intro isnít found elsewhere throughout the game (like the first Spy Hunter on the PS2), else Iím sure my hair would be 5 tones greyer by now.

Spy Hunter 2 has been quite a disappointment for me; the first Spy Hunter on the PS2 was an enjoyable extension on the arcade classic, and this game hasnít improved on it much at all. The gameplay is quite repetitive, so much so that the story means next to nothing; aside from blowing things up of course. The extras on the disc are a nice addition, including the history of Spyhunter, and a live piece from E3, however nothing more appears in the Ďextrasí portion of the game no matter how hard you try; quite disappointing.

Review By: Chris Gobbett

GRAPHICSIt has itís nice touches, but on the whole is rather bland.
SOUNDAverage voiceover and explosions, music fits the part.
GAMEPLAYItís fun for all of 5 minutes; and co-op is a letdown.
VALUEThe extras are unlocked before you start the game. Boo!
OVERALLSpy Hunter 2 is an example of a sequel tripping up on itís own feet; itíd be fun to hire, but I foresee it heading for the bargain bin sooner rather than later.

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