CounterSpy: PS4 Review
The Cold War is heating up again on the PlayStation 4 with the release of spy thriller, Counterspy.
In this side-scrolling stealth 2D platformer, you play a spy, slap bang in the middle of hostilities, but positioned on neither side. Briefed by C.O.U.N.T.E.R, your mission is to retrieve a series of launch codes, take out the bad guys and save the day by deactivating any potential nuclear launch.
The problem is that as well as collecting intel by searching cupboards, there are also bad guys for you to have to either take down or shoot - as well as the Nuclear clock counting down to Def Con 1 putting the pressure squarely on your shoulders.
Each time you die, the clock ticks ever closer to that launch, and if you run out of chances to run down the clock, then it's all on as there's just 1 minute for you to race through the level, silence any baddies and stop the clock.
CounterSpy is tremendous fun; the minimal visuals as you negotiate both sides of the Cold War are brilliantly realised, with your silhouetted agent slinking and grooving between targets. Employing stealth moves and tactics are really the order of the day, because each mission gets harder and each starts closer to the end of the doomsday clock.
Stealth kills work best, with the soldiers being unable to call in the fact there's a spy loose, but you have to be clever with these; moments when you wander through a camera's field without realising can raise the Def Con Level and cause all manner of chaos without you realising. Likewise, choosing to mow down all the baddies with a machine gun may seem like an obvious solution, but this does alert others to your presence.
Each level is randomly generated, which means that any game can't be cracked in the manner of a traditional platformer with no guarantees of what lies ahead. It's a clever touch, because even though there are only a few variety of levels, the fact they're not the same adds much to the game and prevents too much repetition.
Part of the thrill of CounterSpy (aside from the collecting of weapon blueprints to unlock new weapons and formulas to help you deal with enemies) is how fiendishly addictive it is - each death is avoidable and so the pull back into the game is inevitable. That's despite the glitches within.
It's not all bells and whistles though - a few moments in CounterSpy drag the game down a notch. Several times the game froze at the start of the level for no reason whatsoever, leaving the spy stranded and doing nothing and this gamer frustrated as he elected to quit the mission. Equally moments within the game saw combat moves on 3 baddies at once hit by glitches which meant the takedown cut scenes were smattered by a hail of bullets, meaning that health levels suffered for the start of the next. (Though this can play to your advantage, as you can disarm the end of levels computers by taking a hail of gunfire).
Overall, CounterSpy is great fun; a reminder that simplicity is king and that sometimes the most hours can be lost at a gaming console for the smartest of premises.