Saturday 20 November 2021

SpyHunter (Tapwave Zodiac review)

Developer: Fathammer
Publisher: Midway Games
Released: 2003

SpyHunter is a vehicular-combat game and the sequel to the 1983 Arcade title of the same name.

Like the original game, a range of offensive (e.g. guns, missiles) and defensive (e.g. smoke screens) weapons are at your disposal. Arcade mode tasks you with reaching the destination point before time expires. The camera is positioned high above your vehicle and the off-shoot is not being able to see very far into the distance; enemies appear with little warning and spotting upcoming turns with enough distance to prepare is always stressful. While the frame-rate performs decently during straights that aren't overly populated, the game engine freaks out whenever you need to make 90° turns and the action becomes utter chaos until it stabilises. When things are working in a respectable fashion the gameplay is mildly enjoyable (if not a little repetitive) and weaving in-and-out of traffic while blasting bad guys is fun. The ability to use both offensive and defensive weapons is a neat touch and the scenic locales help to keep you somewhat immersed. Missile Mode consists of seven missions where you must complete multiple objectives before time expires. Compared to Arcade, the camera angle is lower which makes it easier to see what's ahead; the problem it introduces though is a further decrease in the frame-rate and trying to make subtle movements is nigh-on impossible as your vehicle constantly over-steers. Your guns also appear to be less accurate and instead wildly spraying bullets is the order of the day. The missions are nowhere near as fun as the console versions (2001-02, GameCube, PS2, Xbox) and instead of diverse tasks to slalom between gates or catching air to gain a certain distance you're instead challenged to banal errands such as destroying cargo boats.

SpyHunter lacks the playfulness and personality of its console big brother and the uninspired, mundane missions make for some lacklustre gameplay. Those with an affection for the series might find some enjoyment here in short bursts, but others are likely to grow tired of its inexcusable frame-rate issues rather swiftly.

Random trivia: SpyHunter was also released on the Game Boy Advance in 2002.

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