|Release: August 19, 2014|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood, Violence|
The exploration, stealth, and silent takedown controls are simple and responsive, and it feels good to outfox your opponents and retrieve their secrets. As the game goes on, however, there will be an increasing number of rooms stuffed full of guards, leading to nearly unavoidable firefights. It's here where CounterSpy isn't quite as much fun. The analog stick aiming is too clumsy for hurried situations, and things to go south rapidly once somebody notices you popping out of cover pointing a gun at them. Suddenly you have soldiers rushing at you, one guy in the back calling in and rapidly raising the DEFCON level, and a hail of gunfire smashing through your precious hit point pool. Mistakes are punished harshly, because the DEFCON level for each side persists between levels, and you're in deep trouble if both sides get up to DEFCON 2 or 1. There are a few ways to lower your DEFCON, but they are limited, and it can be frustrating to see a single mistake cascade you from safety to Red Alert level.
If all else fails and your DEFCON levels get too high, you can restart the game while retaining all the tech you've unlocked so far. This is a nice option that, along with various multiplayer score challenges, gives CounterSpy strong replayability. It also allows you to see that the levels are procedurally generated. I'm not usually a fan of level randomization, but CounterSpy does it exceptionally well, with logical passages and well-placed loot. You might not even notice that the levels weren't hand-made if you didn't repeat them at some point. Play it too long or too often and things will seem repetitive, but the level design and replay options make it a great quick game for a lazy afternoon.
CounterSpy is an excellent addition to the PlayStation Network with enough style and unique gameplay mechanics to make it stand out from the pack of side-scrolling platforming/action titles. Those of us who are old enough to remember the Cold War will particularly appreciate the game's style and humor, but it's an entertaining title for anybody who likes some good old-fashioned stealth action. Its later levels can be a bit frustrating, but its espionage challenges are enough fun that you'll want to keep trying until you reach the final mission.
Date: August 25, 2014