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SpyHunter 2

written by Shaun McCracken

Game Information
Publisher: Midway
Developer: Angel Studios (Rockstar San Diego)
Year Released: 2003
Players: 1-2
ESRB Rating: Teen

Visuals 7.75
The game looks fine, but not spectacular.
Audio 8
Some decent music and effects, but Vanessa Carlton's "Dark Carnival" really doesn't fit here.
Gameplay 7.75
The design is simple, but the level of difficulty is too high and frustrating.
Replay Value 7
8-10 hours to finish, mostly because you'll lose - A LOT. After that, there isn't much else but a tacked on multiplayer mode, and there is no online play.
Reviewer's Impression 7.25
SpyHunter 2 basically does everything the previous game has done before, which is good and bad. For one, it's easy to get into, but the design is also too similar and really doesn't feel new. Hey, at least it isn't as bad as the arcade version of SpyHunter 2. God forbid they re-make that.
Overall 7.5
SpyHunter 2 is best as a rental, since the length is fairly short, and you won't have to totally dedicate yourself to the high level of difficulty.

This generation, Midway decided to revisit some of it's old classic franchises and make them new again. One of those was SpyHunter, which was remade and released back in 2001 for the PS2 to much acclaim, and ported to the Xbox and Gamecube in 2002 with some groans (notably the pixelated textures in the Cube version). Seeing how it was a success on at least two systems, Midway brings back SpyHunter for another round of hot car-on-spy action for the Xbox and PS2. SpyHunter 2 is pretty similar to the last SpyHunter game, so much so, that it really doesn't seem like much of an improvement over the last game. Though the look and sound is slightly different due to a different developer, the story and gameplay seem a bit too close to the last game.

If you've played the last SpyHunter that was released, then you should pretty much know what to expect here. Hunt the NOSTRA organization down, and put a stop to what they're doing. Honestly, that's about it, because the story is pretty damn thin anyway, limited to text paragraphs on the loading screens. How you will stop them is with a car, some guns, and a dream. A dream that the world will not be run by madmen. This time around, you have an infinite supply of at least one weapon, and consumable amounts of secondary and defensive items. You'll need those, and a lot of luck if you want to get through this game. If there's one difference between the original remake of SpyHunter and the sequel, is that this one is much harder. Almost unnecessarily harder.

The gameplay is made as simple as it can be, where you basically just drive and shoot. But the level of difficulty does not make this an easy of a task as it should be. A few stages in, you can be bombarded by vehicles, which for some reason, seem stronger than your car. How can that be? How can some crappy enemy vehicle be harder to take down than me? Then you get to the stage where you have to chase down a stolen G-8155 Interceptor, where it looks like your car, but doesn't get taken down as easy as your car. Expect to see "Mission Failed" quite often throughout this game. Because of the increased difficulty, the game will take longer to complete. You are given 16 or so stages, which doesn't seem like much, but again, it's a hard game. After completing each stage, you unlock new weapons to use for the next stage. But for some reason, you can't pick which ones you want to use. If one weapon works better than the new one you're given, why can't you go back and use that one?

The visuals are pretty much average fare. It's better than the mess Point Of View created in the Cube version of the original SpyHunter, but nothing really stands out as spectacular. The G-8155 Interceptor model is nice, and the environments aren't too bad, but the enemy vehicles and the break-apart effects when you destroy them could have been better. The framerate stays fairly stable, with some hiccups here and there, and the sense of speed is not too bad. Again, though, nothing really stands out.

The audio is fine, with some decent music and effects. I'm not sure how Vanessa Carlton's music fits into the whole grand scheme of things in this game, but the SpyHunter theme is still here. There's not a whole lot in terms of voice acting, mostly just the car telling you the objectives, which isn't too bad. And if some of the sound effects sound familiar, like they came from Midnight Club 2, well that's because it was done by the same developer (Angel Studios). Overall, not too bad.

Final Thought

SpyHunter 2 is not a bad sequel, but it's not really a better game, either. It follows too close to the first SpyHunter game, so close, that it feels like the first SpyHunter game in many ways. I wish there were more stages and a little more variation in gameplay, and that the difficulty was toned down or at least more progressive. Sequels should really fix what was wrong with the game before it, and not really do the same thing again. This is not really bad as a rental, since after you beat the game, there's not much in terms of replay value. It's not a bad game to play, just one you won't remember.