Developed by Dynamighty, CounterSpy is one of those short but entertaining “Don’t talk to me or else I’ll die!” games. It was made free to download on PlayStation Vita for PS Plus members this month, otherwise it is regularly $14.99. The game is set during the Cold War and has neat little historical facts about nuclear and space programs added to the load screens. The player can really see the influence from Creative Director Mark Holmes who use to work at Pixar. The graphics are bold, angular and aggressive, fitting for a spy game. Music is full of that smooth 1950’s swagger that would fit any scene in a James Bond movie.
During the game the player gets to chose where each mission will be, the US or Soviet Russia. Each mission nets a variation of Launch Plans and Collectibles to progress the game but you get to see what you’re playing for before selecting the mission. If playing on the network you will be given a rival spy who’s score you’ll want to beat for bonus money.
I enjoyed the quick five to ten minute randomly generated levels and the concept of completing the game faster/slower depending on which mission the player chooses. However, because of the already short length of the entire game I found myself selecting the least advancing missions to prolong my own entertainment. Sometimes at the cost of forfeiting weapons blueprints or formula pages. I could really only come up with two criticisms: the lengthy loading screens and the Soviet missions all in Russian. I can appreciate the Russian text as I earned a B- in Russian 101 however the dialogue became an immersion obstacle for every Soviet mission. I feel that for America, at least, English with a strong Russian accent would’ve helped, but this is a minor detail. As stated earlier, the loading screens cycle through interesting facts so that does help out a bit with the length.
I’ve read some other reviews that thought the games AI was “inconsistent” however I noticed some consistent patterns that the player is just not told about out right. There are different types of guards, all dressed in different uniforms. Some of them are very observant and some of them will stare at you for a long time before realizing you’re a spy, hopefully you move faster than that though. There’s also a moment of forgiveness in some instances where the player may not be immediately aware of a guards presence until they are seen or a little red icon pops up on the screen. Aiming was another complaint however, myself not constantly playing dozens of shooters every year, I didn’t notice a problem even without a cross hair or bulls-eye. I had plenty of head shots that were head shots, and a fair number of mismarked shots because I didn’t aim well enough.
All in all, I really enjoyed playing CounterSpy and it’s a Keep for me. I think the only feature that would’ve benefited this game further is the players own ability to throw a grenade or smoke bomb. After playing it for awhile, I decided to start over and erase the game-save I had been playing. I then found out that whatever weapons and formulas you unlocked previously you get to keep. There are also 3 different difficulties, the last two you can unlock after playing through the first. So I plan on keeping it around for a while longer and attempting to beat all three difficulties. I love a challenge!