Spy vs. Spy PS2 Review

Spy vs. Spy was actually born in an American comic around 40 years ago; it’s a piece of trivia that we only picked up recently. We do have fond memories of the 8-bit game though, whether it was the Commodore 64 version or the Spectrum version, we just cannot remember, but we do have memories of it being quite a good laugh. Now to the remake.

Spy vs. Spy is a silly title, be it a book, movie, comic strip or game, but there’s plenty of logic in this title. The game as well as its comic strip inspiration has two rodent-like spies battling it out in an unserious and comedy manner, despite the story being inspired by the Cold War. Cue plenty of cartoon violence, as “white” tries to best “black” and so on.

As a remake the premise has basically been unchanged, although that’s not to say that it’s a simple and lazy carbon copy of the 80’s game. Whereas the original was basically about shuffling furniture around and little else, the sequel presents some brand new challenges that manage to mask the pure simplicity of it all.

A proper mission-based story mode is present, which entirely alters the way that the game is played. Here it becomes more of a third person action game, as you make your way through the modern levels. It’s enjoyable enough, but the rather vague puzzles slow the pacing down somewhat, thankfully these taxing brainteasers aren’t frequent enough to stain the mode too badly.

As for the other modes, the game does things a little differently. Those who remember the original game should know what to expect here. The aim is to find various items of importance around the games stages whilst leaving traps for your unfortunate foes (a bucket of acid above a door is a classic example) who naturally have all the same goals in mind as yourself.

The weaponry on offer is varied, but sadly there are some serious balance issues to contend with. You earn coinage for taking out foes, in which you can use to purchase helpful weapons, traps and items. It’s just a shame that many of them are useless and embarrassingly underpowered, to the point that we wondered why they even bothered with some of them in the first place.

Hunting for items can become a fairly tedious task, and games can go on for what seems like forever. This is disappointing for the multi-player modes, and it actually plays better in the classic room-to-room style (all here in full 3D), opposed to having the shiny new challenges to contend with (lasers and jumps etc), although you do eventually learn that finding the key first is the quickest route to victory, as it allows you to access shortcuts and avoid obstacles enabling you to easier obtain the remaining items. There’s even an online mode, but the chances of finding someone to play against is close to nil.

Spy vs. Spy is a game with plenty of great ideas; it’s just a shame that so many of them are executed so badly. That said, the game isn’t a total failure, there is some fun to be had for the £19.99 budget price, and it’s a lot better than many other cheap titles on the market right now.