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PlayStation Vita  header logo

Spy Hunter

For: PS Vita

Yesterday never dies

Product: Spy Hunter | Developer: TT Fusion | Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment | Format: PS Vita | Genre: Action, Arcade, Racing | Players: 1-4 | Networking: wireless (adhoc) | Version: Europe
Spy Hunter PS Vita, thumbnail 1
If you're of a certain vintage, then Spy Hunter will forever resonate as one of the coolest arcade games of all time.

With its sit-down cabinet and its riff on the Peter Gunn theme tune, it proved to be an irresistible blend of racing game and shooter.

But, the problem for the franchise is that it has been a notoriously tough act to follow. No matter how much technology has improved over the past three decades, attempts to build on its success have largely failed to capture the simple spirit and instant playability of the original.

Like Midway decided with its reboot more than a decade ago, developer TT Fusion has dispensed with the classic top-down view in this Vita edition of Spy Hunter, and opted for a more crowd-pleasing behind-the-car view.

Car trouble

Then, as now, your sleek driving machine rolls out of the back of a truck, armed to the teeth, ready to take on all-comers on road, off-road, and on water. The ride promises to be a lot of fun. It always does.

But, any optimistic expectations regarding manic combat-laced car chase antics are rapidly dashed by the game's unacceptably bland technical standards. Unlike most of the titles released for PS Vita, Spy Hunter is simply nowhere near PS3 standards.

In fact, with its generic, sterile environments, low poly vehicle models and crippling lack of speed, Spy Hunter 2012 wouldn't look out of place on the original PSP.

If the core mechanics somehow transcended these niggling technical concerns, you might readily overlook such deficiencies, but with a handling model that's best described as 'eccentric', the biggest challenge you'll face is overcoming the urge to do something more entertaining with your life.

Don't look back in anger

By default, the skittish controls force your vehicle to veer off to one side at the slightest provocation, but keeping your multi-purpose vehicle under control is made even more challenging by the fact that you'll keep inadvertently hitting the rear view, thanks to it being mapped to the down position on the joystick.

Supposing that you can work around that issue, what you're left with is utterly forgettable. One unmemorable quick-fire mission, where you're either getting to a specific checkpoint within a time limit or expected to destroy certain targets (or both), blurs past after another.

With a cursory nod to gameplay variety, TT Fusion attempts to break up this repetition by throwing in uninspired manned turret shooting sequences, or set pieces where you have to take out the engines on a runaway plane or plant bombs on a ship.

But, any pretensions to 007 cool are snuffed out in no time, and it's soon back to more dodgy combat-heavy driving.

Fire and forget

The driving-combat element itself works reasonable well enough despite the dodgy handling. With weapons assigned to the four face buttons, it's simple enough to blast your flamethrower out of the rear with X, for example, or launch your auto-targeting swarm missiles with the Square button.

But, deploying your machine gun accurately or ramming cars out of the way depends on your being able to steer with confidence, and, sadly, you feel like you're fighting with an hyperactive child en route to the zoo throughout.

If you were hoping that Spy Hunter was one of those games that eventually becomes awesome, you'd be mistaken. It's merely a question of how many missions you can tolerate.

It doesn't matter how many cool-looking new weapons you unlock, or how many gravel-voiced supervillains materialise, or how many death-defying slow motion jumps through the nose of an aircraft you can stomach, this is sub-par fodder in every sense.

The four-player fight-to-the-finish ad hoc multiplayer mode offers a crumb of comfort for those hoping for fun outside of the campaign mode, but the biggest challenge will be actually finding anyone willing to get involved.

Spy Hunter's capacity to entertain remains stuck in reverse from start to finish, and no amount of fondness for what the brand once meant can make up for this travesty. If WB Games has any intention of reviving any other retro brands any time soon, it needs to try an awful lot harder than this.
Spy Hunter
Reviewer photo
Kristan Reed | 1 November 2012
Spy Hunter's poor handling and dire visuals make this one of the least impressive PS Vita titles to date. Even long-term Spy Hunter devotees will struggle to get behind this one
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