GoldenEye 007 on the N64 was such a cool experience.
The first blockbuster first-person shooter made you really feel like the superspy James Bond. A rush from start to finish, there was never a moment where you didn’t feel immersed in the game. With the likes of Metal Gear Solid and Splinter Cell, there have been a decent range of standout spy series to go alongside Bond. SpyHack, from Forever Entertainment SA, doesn’t come close.
This spy game is more of a third-person puzzler, tasking the player with negotiating both living enemies and security codes in order to pass seamlessly through a facility in the pursuit of stopping the nefarious plans of ‘The Dome Ltd’. Set in the year 2111, hacking mini-games and technology are of key importance in the world of SpyHack, and you’ll need to make careful decisions to ensure that you avoid detection whilst going about your spy business. You have to stay out of enemies’ lines of sight, taking solid and glass walls into account.
That all sounds like good stuff, but SpyHack plays and feels like it’s better done with a mouse. With a cursor, you must click spots on the floor and wait for your character to amble along into the spot. A double-tap will make him run to his target destination, and then you’ll be able to interact with any objects within touching distance. This all needs to be timed around the enemy patrols – making a mistake in the timing means you’ll have to quickly shift the cursor into a safe spot in the hope of influencing a last-minute about-turn to take the spy away from danger. Again, something which would be far easier to execute when using a PC mouse. The left stick moves the camera around the level, with the right stick operating a swivel and inexplicably two separate buttons handling zooming in and zooming out. That’s simply unnecessary.
Beyond simply moving around, you have three weapons and three gadgets at your disposal, each with a set number of uses per level, a key element of the game’s strategy component. Depending on the level, you might be able to use an automatic rifle freely, or alternatively you’ll need to get up close and personal in order to knock them out with a taser. Weapons are cycled with the L and R buttons, while ZL and ZR go through gadgets. These can make felled enemies disappear, bypass hacking mini-games or even rig up electronic items dotted around the stages which can then be used to form distractions (pulling the attention of guards towards them) or provide a more lethal intervention.
The problem with this, as is the case with doors and switches throughout SpyHack, is that getting the cursor on them is a right pain in the ass, and in the case of the doors in particular, the pointer doesn’t even auto-lock to the open/shut option buttons which appear just to the side of the original door menu button. it’s poor, and no easier in handheld mode.
Oh, and the loading times. The loading times. The cartridges of the Switch promised a considerably more trimmed wait between areas, but this title, on the eShop, seems to have missed the memo. You’d think that covering them with a bit of written storyline would help, but the presence of a series of grammatical errors just really reinforces that this is a game that could have done with some more polish.
SpyHack offers none of the thrills and spills that you’d expect of a game based on espionage. Lame gameplay, a litany of grammatical errors and miserable controls make for a really disappointing experience.