Review: Spy Vs Spy (XB)

Xbox
Global Star Software
4 Player Split Screen/System Link/Live

Ah Spy Vs Spy. That brings back some cherished memories. Both in its original game form and in Mad Magazine form, Spy Vs Spy is a guilty pleasure for me. Which is why I was hesitant to give this one a review. After all, if the game is horrid my memories will be scarred and ruined forever. But, this is the life I chose and the path I lead, so I will sacrifice my memories so that you may know the truth about Spy Vs Spy.

Story:

Like many games, the story in Spy Vs Spy is just an excuse to kill the bad guys and open up levels in multiplayer. If it was any thinner in fact it would be transparent. You are given command of either Black Spy or White Spy, and your mission is to stop an evil General from using a doomsday weapon on the planet. Along the way you must battle the General’s henchmen and the opposing spy. I was never able to figure out if the opposing spy is working with the General or if he too is attempting to stop the General, but either way he is your nemesis and you will kill him repeatedly.

Story: 2/10

Graphics:

I think I heard my X-Box yawn while playing this one. Not to say the graphics are poor, but the game is set in a cartoon world that very impressively imitates the art style of the comics. And since the comic is a fairly simplistic rendition of things (not that I could draw it, but it hasn’t exactly been drawn and colored by Alex Ross) the console handles the levels and enemies with ease.

Graphics: 5/10

Sound:

Whomever decided to use elevator music in this game deserves to be hung inside an elevator shaft from his toe nails while listening to this soundtrack. You will notice within seconds of booting up the game just how irritating it is, and if it weren’t for the option to turn the music off I would have probably gone on a killing spree somewhere.

Thankfully the rest of the sound doesn’t suffer nearly as badly, though it’s hardly the stuff of legends. Character voices sound like mice run through a chipmunk voice filter, but since all you ever hear them do is laugh in a sinister way it’s not really so bad. Sound effects are simple but they do their job well. From simple things like machine gun fire to chainsaws and red alert klaxons, every sound is distinct and nothing is ever confusing

Sound: 3/10

Controls/Gameplay

You ever pick up a game and wonder just why it was released as a budget title? Sometime you know right away and sometimes it’s a little more difficult to notice. Spy Vs Spy fell into the latter category for me. True, the music alone should drive the price down by at least 10 bucks, but I got this for 20 Canadian. AOL Discs are worth more than 20 Canadian. And while the graphics aren’t really anything to cheer about the game runs well and is faithful to the license, so it’s not that either. So it has to be in the gameplay and control section. Right? Yes. More gameplay than controls, but even the controls could use some work. From the start you the game is based on a cartoon so it’s going to be at least partly aimed at kids. So the controls don’t try anything fancy. The gameplay isn’t exactly what I would call difficult. In fact it’s down right easy.

Controls/Gameplay: 4/10

Balance:

Really, there is no reason for this game to take you more than a rental at the very maximum to finish. None. OK possibly an earthquake or something. But no reason beyond act’s of nature to stop you. The levels aren’t huge, the bosses aren’t really that difficult and the puzzles and obstacles they do throw at you can’t really be thought of as mind bending. By the time you finish reading this review you could probably finish half the game. But since the single player campaign …no, thats not the right word, that implies that it takes a while to finish. Ok, since the single player mode is there to open up levels in multiplayer, I’m not really that disappointed. I’d rather have a short single player game that rocks at multiplayer then a long single player game that has a crappy multiplayer option tacked on.

Balance: 3/10

Replay Ability:

The really attractive part of this game is in it’s multiplayer functions. You are given a number of modes to play, including a 3D version of the old Spy Vs Spy game, and the single player game unlocks levels for the multiplayer game. The game is X-Box Live compatible, but I discovered that I am apparently the only person in the world who wanted to play this game on X-Box Live, so I can’t really report to you any problems or great joys discovered within. And I’m not telling you this after trying once to get a match on Live and then giving up. I have owned the game for over a week now and every day I tried to get online I found I was the only Spy in the world. Which means I’m the best Spy in the world! HAHAHAHA!

Ahem. Carrying on, there are other multiplayer options, namely 4 player split screen and system link, and each of these can be played in classic or modern mode. Classic mode is the original Spy Vs Spy game redone to be played in a 3D setting, while modern mode includes the levels you play through in single player. There are more multiplayer options included as well, such as death match and last man standing, but the real joy for me was classic mode. Find four items (or 5 if you have the suitcase option turned on) before up to 3 enemy spies do and escape with your life, but be watchful for booby traps set by opposing players. Split screen isn’t quite as fun as system link or presumably Live, but it can still be a hoot to play through the game looking for items and being wary of traps set by dastardly friends.

Replay Ability: 8/10

Appeal:

If you’re looking for a great single player game this isn’t it. If you want a fun multiplayer game that relies more on memory and brains then on how fast you can fire your BFG you will likely enjoy this one also. If you loved the old game and wouldn’t mind a nostalgic trip into your past, complete with colored footprints giving away your location, this will certainly fill your bill.

Appeal: 6/10

Originality:

The game is based on a comic of the same name that appears in MAD magazine, so it’s not an original franchise. The best part of the game is a remake of a prior version of said game, so it’s not even an original idea. But in this day and age of gaming there aren’t many multiplayer games where the point is to kill your enemy by booby trapping a door or a safe, so I can forgive the designers for taking an old idea and running with it, making it new again. You do get some interesting cut scenes when you kill the enemy Spy, some of them rather painful looking. Gotta give them marks for that.

Originality: 6/10

Addictiveness:

If I wasn’t reviewing this I probably wouldn’t have finished the game, to be honest. The multiplayer is only as addicting as the quality of your competition, so if your friends suck don’t expect this to blow you away. Still, it’s a nice diversion, something different from Halo or Burnout 3.

Addictiveness: 3/10

Miscellaneous:

There are instances in game where you run into traps that have been set by White Spy, but I don’t think they really utilized this as well as they could have. The whole point of the comic is the two spies going head to head trying to kill each other. I found during the single player mode that you might find one, possibly two times in a stage where you would have to avoid a trap or turn it around on White Spy.

Also, I think it’s ridiculous that I was the only person on X-Box Live wanting to play this. That’s just sad really. The game deserves better than that, despite the score its getting.

Miscellaneous: 6/10

Story: 2/10
Graphics: 5/10
Sound: 3/10
Controls/Gameplay: 4/10
Balance: 3/10
Replay Ability: 8/10
Appeal: 6/10
Originality: 6/10
Addictiveness: 3/10
Miscellaneous: 6/10

Short Attention Span Summary
An average game at best, Spy Vs Spy is like a summer blockbuster movie. Don’t expect the world and you may find the experience to be fairly pleasant. Just kill the music before you kill the neighbours.