Spy Hunter 2 is a game which makes no qualms about its substance and right from the get go, you know this game is going to revolve around action, action and more action. That's not to say there isn't a storyline, but the focus for the developers was obviously to create an arcade style game with fast paced action and also a game which can be played for either a few minutes or in a long session of a few hours.
The storyline behind the game is quite cliche. Nostra has returned in various parts of the world with a number of super villains waiting to be stopped by you and your souped up sports car. This fragmentation is being controlled by one person, who isn't revealed until the very end of the game but you don't play Spy Hunter 2 for the storyline. For this task you are joined by the sexy Agent Duvelle but rather then have her help you (except for in a non-interactive cut scene) most of the time when you encounter her, you will be saving her from the numerous enemies littered about the game.
Spy Hunter 2's gameplay can be hard to define due to a number of factors, however arcade action racer is probably the best category. You drive a souped up car, which can transform into other vehicles and basically speed from once place to another, destroying almost everything in your path or rescuing someone. Each mission has a time limit which enforces the fast paced nature of the game, but unless you're really dawdling, it is highly unlikely you will run out of time before the mission is completed. Your mission tasks can range from rescuing your co-agent Duvelle, protecting a defecting Senator, to discovering an enemy base and many other tasks. There are also boss fights such as with a large plane trying to take off, which definitely gives the game an arcade feel. Not surprising, considering it's a sequel to the original arcade game.
As mentioned before your primary weapon in the fight against Nostra is the souped up car you're given the keys to by Agent Duvelle during the epilogue to the story. This car becomes the difference between life and death for our character so it is fortunate that it is equipped with some heavy artillery and other features. Throughout the game you will encounter different circumstances which may change the way the car behaves. That's when it may be time to transform it in to something else. The car in Spyhunter 2 can transform into five different vehicles, depending on the terrain. The car can turn into a boat, an offroad vehicle, jet ski and snowski and the escape cycle for when Alec is driving for his life.
Throughout the levels you will also come across weapon vans. After driving inside them, these vans replenish stocks for your car and repair any damage which has been taken before continuing on. In some missions, the weapons van also becomes a vehicle you can control to a degree. The viewpoint switches to the cockpit and you control the cannon and machine guns on top of the machine whilst the game itself moves the vehicle. This variation helps keep the game fresh as you play through the numerous missions.
The main reason for this game being only a moderate title is the repetition. Whilst you do have numerous different tasks to complete in the game, it all boils down to driving around in a particular build of the car and either destroying things or reaching an area in a timelimit. There aren't many things wrong with the game other then for some players this gameplay will become repetitive and boring quickly. If you're looking for a game with an in depth storyline and a huge variety of gameplay elements then Spy Hunter 2 is not going to be a game you will enjoy very much.
As you complete missions various new items for the car will be unlocked. The car features three weapons; two for enemies in front of you, and one for those chasing behind. Before each mission you get to select which type of weaponry you wish to fill each available slot with. At first you will only have basic weapons and armor but as you complete missions, more options are unlocked. Weapons include guided missiles, multiple missiles, rockets and rear weapons such as smoke and mines.
Across the storyline you will visit various different continents of the world and this will offer a different challenge for each of the missions. You will visit Asia, the United States, Swiss Alps and another area which is actually the climax to the game so we won't spoil it. There isn't much to bring across the fact you are driving in a different country. Sometimes the architecture will have some of the flavour of the traditional culture, but nothing really sticks out as a defining object except for the missions set in the Swiss Alps. Spy Hunter 2 is a game where gameplay over graphics is a quote which definitely applies.
Whilst the game doesn't look bad, it is still a very average title in terms of visuals. This may have been caused by the need to keep the game at sixty frames per second, and we didn't once notice any slowdown so it appears the developers have succeeded in their goal. The music is a rock soundtrack and the official theme song of the game is actually performed by Vanessa Carlton.
There is a decent range of bonus material on the disc as well with a video interview featuring Vanessa Carlton, her performing the theme song live at E3 2003 and a development video talking about what they wanted to do with Spy Hunter 2. As is seemingly becoming a trend there is a multiplayer only campaign featured in the game as well but the game does not support online play and multiplayer is only available on the same for console for up to two players.
Spy Hunter 2 is a great game for those looking for a title which contains action and not much else. If you want a game where you drive around at insane speeds, blowing stuff up then Spy Hunter 2 will fit your needs nicely but for anyone else wanting a more in depth storyline or a game which offers a greater variety of things to do then Spy Hunter 2 should be given a miss. Either way a rental first is probably the best idea.