Review: Spy Hunter

Spy Hunter is one of those arcade classics that's not only been updated, it's actually been improved. Way back in 1983 gamers were treated to an addictive game with the most basic of visuals, the players imagination filling in the blanks. In 2002 however, the Gamecube version now boasts a fully interactive 3D environment. For gamers back then this was the stuff dreams were made of so to actually be able to immerse yourself in the game seemed a long way off. Before I get ahead of myself though there is a single pitfall that seems to plague many of these 'updated' titles. The problem is that improved graphics usually mean watered down gameplay and therefore a disappointing gaming experience. Let's hope the good people at Midway have learnt from everyone else's mistakes.


The visuals are jaw droppingly good and far surpass anything I've seen before, especially running at this speedy frame rate. One of the highlights is the lighting effects, the action takes place at various times of the day making for some interesting shadows and ambient colouring. But it's the finer details that really make this title graphically outstanding. One of the missions is set in the autumn (fall, if you're American) and as you speed along the country roads leaves blow up around the car. I could go on about the explosions and general quality of animation but the best thing to do is see this in action but beware, the screenshots do it no justice at all.


The audio employs the same high production values as the visuals and, as a result, is outstanding. You'll notice the quality most of all in the clever changes in sound when you are entering or exiting different environments which gives an incredible illusion of different surroundings. The undisputed high points though are the various explosions and collisions, which build the game's atmosphere to near frenzied levels. A final mention must go to the soundtrack, which is well above what you'd normally expect from a video games and obviously owes a lot to James Bond/Spy Movies. Superb.


Whether it's training or a real mission every stage starts out by listing your objectives. These are usually laid out as one Primary and up to five Secondary. The Primaries range from neutralising bombs to destroying bases whilst the Secondary almost always include not injuring any civilians. Important to note here, you need only complete the Primary Objective to progress to the next level but completing all the objectives opens up extras within the game. You do start out, however, with a training mission, which familiarises you with just what your G-6155 is capable of. There's also a training mission half way through the game when you're rewarded with a significantly more powerful version of your car.

Your vehicle is ingenious and has three different states - a car, a boat and a bike. You never have to select these as it's all done completely automatically so even as you're jumping into water you'll see your car transform into the hi-tech boat. The bike appears as a default measure and only when you're low on energy. It is the least effective of the three and has considerable less firepower. Fortunately all the stages feature an equipment truck, driving into it will not only repair all the damage and put you back into your all powerful car but will also replace all your used weapons. Beware though as it can only be used once so picking the right moment is essential.

The real skill in Spy Hunter comes in tackling the different missions with the required gadgets and tools. For example - simply blasting everything you encounter means you will restart the level repeatedly. In one of the later missions you must approach a secret base without being detected. Here you must use a mixture of speed and visual skills in order to detect and avoid the various laser triggered alarm systems that line your route. Your biggest challenge in all the missions, however, is to complete them within the time limit and although initially these appear very generous by the time you reach level seven you'll be finishing with only seconds to spare.

If that's not enough there are also the numerous Multiplayer options for even more and varied gameplay. Firstly there's 'Spy 2 Head to Head' where you must utilise all your weapons, and any other tricks you can think of, to cross the finish line first. Collect'em up fans will be pleased with the 'Globe Trotter' section. Speed here is not a requirement, the winner is the player who collects the most SATCOMs during the game and things take a bizarre turn in 'Chicken Hunter' where the player who eliminates the most chickens gains the most points.


I'm actually a big driving fan so I was really looking forward to Spy Hunter and it has exceeded all my expectations. If you enjoy driving with a little blasting and a good measure of puzzle solving thrown in, then this game is definitely for you. I just couldn't put it down and it took me ages to actually get around to writing this review.


It will take you some time to tackle all missions with both primary and secondary objectives and even then you can beat the 'expert' time limits to unlock even more extras. On the downside, some of the extras that were in the PS2 version, such as the 'Making of FMV' and the original version of the game, are absent from this one. This is only a minor drawback though because after you've tackled the main game you'll still have the multiplayer to sample. All you'll need now is someone who knows how to drive a G-6155 as well as you.

Final Say:

I can't really say more than 'YOU NEED THIS TITLE' for no other reason than to prove how games should be done. A really good, solid product from Midway. Let's just hope they decide to do a sequel.


N-Europe Final Verdict

Great audio, visuals and gameplay. What more could you want for your GameCube?

  • Gameplay4
  • Playability4
  • Visuals4
  • Audio4
  • Lifespan4
Final Score



Incredible Graphics
Stunning Audio
Imaginative Missions


The Absent Extras

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