Monday, January 12, 2015

Pocket Review - CounterSpy

CounterSpy gave me a less than stellar first impression, though I feel like I was partly to blame for that. My own expectations had led me to hope this game was going to be more like Shadow Complex, but that's not what this is. CounterSpy is actually a cover shooter that encourages staying in the shadows without being a strict stealth game.

In CounterSpy, players progress by locating launch plans hidden throughout the game's linear stages. The Russian and American governments are both attempting to destroy the moon, and you have to steal these plans in order to stop them. After collecting all of the plans, you can breech the launch area and attempt to destroy the missiles. Areas must be completed without causing the alert level to drop below DEFCON 1. When spotted enemies will attack, but will only alter DEFCON if you allow them time to radio for help or leave an area without eliminating those who've detected you. Alert level persists between stages, so you have to find ways to lower it for your own safety. Often stealth games punish anything less than a perfect effort, but CounterSpy finds ways around some of the more frustrating aspects of stealth gaming while retaining its fantastic spy setting.

The game offers tools to assist you in your mission to save the moon from government idiocy. Players starts with just a pistol, but can purchase new weapons, many of which are silenced. Each weapon has its strengths and weaknesses, and you can only have four equipped per mission. Players can also purchase perks such as silent running or precision aiming which last for a single level to help make things more manageable. Finding your most effective weapons and upgrades is key as some might prefer using a tranquilizer for a safer, yet slower progression while others might desire a speedier, more aggressive approach.

While it took a few missions for me to wrap my head around exactly what CounterSpy expected from me, I ended up really enjoying my time with it. I ended up beating the game on all three difficulties and even replayed it until I obtained all the trophies and collectibles. A single playthrough took about four hours, but I ended up putting around ten into it by the time I was finished. My only complaint is that I would like a little more content. Not that CounterSpy is lacking for what it is, but I started running out of things to do right as I was having the most fun and really getting good at it. I really hope Dynamighty takes this formula and expands on it. While still a little rough around the edges, the foundation build here is great once you get in the swing of things.

Recommended? Absolutely, just go in with reasonable expectations.
Enjoyed By? If you enjoy action or stealth games that don't harshly punish being detected, try this.

This game was played on Vita via a personal PSN purchase by the reviewer.

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