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Review

CounterSpy Review

  • First Released
  • Reviewed:
  • PS3
  • VITA
  • PS4
Aaron Sampson on Google+

Silent but deadly.

CounterSpy is a slick operation. The stop-and-go nature of your average stealth game often makes it difficult to strike a balance between proper pacing and mechanical consistency, as dodging vision cones and memorizing patrol patterns forces the flow of combat to pop and sputter. However, CounterSpy's responsive espionage action and polished movement keep the tempo moving at a steady clip. Precise gunplay and close-quarters combat gives you tactical freedom when clearing out rooms of grunts, and rich customization options present new ways to play each of the procedurally generated missions. A few nagging AI inconsistencies and the stunted runtime are disappointing, but CounterSpy's superb presentation and satisfying executions make for a sterling package that deserves the spotlight.

It's CounterSpy's simplicity that makes it so instantly appealing. Instead of encumbering you with complex systems, the side-scrolling missions have you simply jumping and shooting your way through a series of safeguarded rooms in order to grab critical intel. Natural cover provides a bounty of openings to slow down and pick your shots, but quickly raising your weapon and popping off a few rounds once you elevate suspicion can be just as efficient. You're encouraged to silently snap necks and deliver hot lead between your opposition's eyes, but your crafty spy has enough dexterity and raw firepower to deal with the repercussions of being spotted.

It's easy to pick up and play, but that doesn't mean that the game lacks depth. Peeking over cover alters your perspective, transforming CounterSpy into more of a third-person, gallery-style shooter than a 2D side-scroller. Leaning against walls emphasizes that effect by letting you fire at enemies in the distance, deepening the environments. This perspective shift occasionally breaks a few key mechanics; I often awkwardly wrapped my arms around guards who were standing in the background, for instance. What did and didn't grab someone's attention also seemed to shift from one cover spot to the next, but effortlessly emptying rounds into enemies on multiple planes without alerting a single soul is genuinely satisfying.

The most obvious armament to have at the ready is your silenced pistol, but if things get hairy, you have options. Collecting schematics unlocks new weapons to take into the field, giving you the ability to go loud with a shotgun if the numbers begin to stack against you. Modifiers, on the other hand, offer competitive advantages like greater endurance and silent steps even as you dash across the screen. Of course, everything costs a bit of in-game cash, and since purchased modifiers disappear after completing a level, you have to cleverly budget your resources in order to tackle the more difficult missions with the most effective loadouts. But as long as you play smart and explore the supplementary screens of a given location, you won't be short on money.

Please click above for more CounterSpy images.

Getting spotted won't result in mission failure, but there are consequences if you don't practice restraint in combat. CounterSpy takes place in an alternate Cold War setting, meaning there's an ever-present threat of a nuclear attack--in this case, on the moon--hanging over your head. It's a constant race against a doomsday clock, and being seen on security cameras or letting a soldier alert a superior of your presence over radio will expedite the launch. As an agent of the impartial C.O.U.N.T.E.R organization, it's your job to keep both The Imperialist States and The Socialist Republic at bay by monitoring the separate alert states for each fictional nation.

The '60s setting is best represented through its smooth jazz jingles and cel-shaded aesthetics, which are sharp on both the PlayStation Vita and home consoles. Period-appropriate uniforms and propaganda create a strong sense of place, while the reactive shadows and deep reds and blues produce a consistently soothing tableau. CounterSpy never breaks character, and while you're often scoring headshots and snapping necks, the game still finds time to add a healthy dose of dry humor into the sparse dialogue.

The red scare.

CounterSpy is just a cool cat, but regrettably, it's over before you've had enough. No two levels are the same, so you can keep rolling the dice before reaching the game's conclusion in order to discover fresh level geometry. However, it took me about two hours to reach the credits, and I still wanted to see more. You can spend additional time finding weapon schematics or boosting your high score on the global leaderboard, but I wish there were better reasons to continue playing with the game's refined systems.

It might be short, but I enjoyed almost every minute of my time with CounterSpy. The movement and gunplay are smooth and responsive, and the lovingly crafted presentation remains stunning throughout. This is a stealth game that makes you feel as silent as you are deadly, and is wonderfully, wholly refreshing.

The Good
Rewarding gunplay both in and out of cover
Beautiful presentation is appropriate for the era
Plenty of interesting options once your cover is blown
New weapons and perks open up fresh ways to play
The Bad
Short runtime leaves you wanting more
Occasional bugs break up the action
8
Great
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Josiah Renaudin tends to shoot first and ask questions later when he plays games, but he at least tries to sneak through levels when the opportunities present themselves. For the purpose of this review, he played CounterSpy to completion and saved the moon.

Discussion

74 comments
BadJujuEA
BadJujuEA

You do realize that this isn't a AAA game? It's a Cheap side scrolling PS Store game by a little indie company meant to pick up and play.


Grab a C++ package and see what you can throw together. Probably wouldn't even be PONG level.


Funny how wannabe gamers love criticizing games, yet lack the knowhow to ever create anything.  Even food critics know their way around the Kitchen

jimmy_russell
jimmy_russell

Procedurally generated worlds and pastel color palettes with flat textures. *yawn* Can this next gen get any more lame? Might as well be playing games from the 80's and 90's they are so much better than this second rate garbage.

Whakamole5
Whakamole5

I wonder if this game began as a modern version of Rolling Thunder. Reminds me of it.

deivis_sc
deivis_sc

Hell. At first, when I looked at the screens I thought its some kind of separate game about Spy from Team Fortress 2. Graphics style is so like TF2.

Jock9
Jock9

I'll give it a go, there's tons of games on PSN to buy and download, until the big releases come out gradually. I'll probably pick this up next week or beginning of September, along with a couple of other PSN games I want.

youre_a_sheep
youre_a_sheep

Hearing both "procedurally generated levels" and "very short" about a game concerns me.  Will the future of games involve using algorithms in place of clever level design?  It worked brilliantly for Spelunky but that doesn't mean it needs to be the next thing that gets overused until we're fed up with it.

unreal849
unreal849

If only Caro was here to tell us if there's any sexism in the game.

Garm31
Garm31

A short, but cute game with great music and TERRIBLE! A.I. An 8/10? I don't think so.

kevinlamar
kevinlamar

So according to this site this game is just as good as The Last of Us.....

Garm31
Garm31

I like it. It's a cross between Evil Genius and No one lives Forever *Sniffle* Whew!.. I miss that game.

themc_7
themc_7

I love the visual style of this game. Team Fortress meets The Incredibles set during the Cold War. cool beans.

themc_7
themc_7

damn, another great looking game not on the Xbox. Enjoy PS players. 

:(

dmblum1799
dmblum1799

You have to mention the Cosby show I Spy from the 60s, which this is clearly modelled on.. I watched on reruns in the 70s - great show. 

sakaixx
sakaixx

I'm liking this cross buy/save even more ! ps vita is definitely worth it's value.

megablast16
megablast16

I was only looking at this on the store today funnily enough, still not sure it it's worth a purchase though. Besides I've got a feeling it'll show up on PS+ pretty soon anyway.

lt519
lt519

"Make for a sterling package" Please tell me that was an intentional Archer reference.  Just finished my second playthrough on Advance.  Beat Normal on PS4 and Advance on Vita.  Fun game, going to beat it on Expert now (already 7 plans in).

StonerDemon
StonerDemon

Looks fun, I'll wait for the inevitable PS Plus discount to buy it.

spacecadet25
spacecadet25

@youre_a_sheep

Procedural generation held this game back, and it got sloppy at times.  I never feel like I'm playing totally different levels, they have a basic structure based on several different core layouts, and then some variation on the rooms.  You're even replaying the same level type before you beat the game.  

And sometimes procedural generation hurts when rooms don't end up right, such as some instances when I walk into a room with tons of guards and I don't even have a half second (literally) to try get into the nearest cover.  And this screws you when its' a room with tons of armored guys and dudes with rocket launchers.

And, I should mention that load times were the worst I've seen in a long, long time (I played it on PS3).  I don't know if that's b/c this game uses the Unity engine, or because of extra computation for procedural generation, etc.  

If this game was at least a couple hours longer, and the scenes were hand-crafted to give you certain experiences then this game could have been a masterpiece.  It's very fun to play, until you get screwed by cheapness. 

The procedural generation of levels does practically nothing for replayablility (in this case), really cool balanced levels would have done a lot more, since the core mechanics are fun.  I replayed this game b/c of the gameplay mechanics (and to get my money's worth).

woodyfr
woodyfr

@Garm31 Sadly we lost some good reviewers after the Gamespot layoffs, this is what we get. I still need to find a good video game website.

canuckbiker
canuckbiker

You missed it. They offered a 20% discount for pre-ordering it. You'll be waiting about a year for another one.

spacecadet25
spacecadet25

@Lionheart377 @themc_7  It's missing the Flint series comparison (from the movies such as In Like Flint).  The silliness of the story and some of the signs in the game remind me of the campiness.  But especially that fact the spy is tall and super skinny, just like James Coburn in those movies.

spacecadet25
spacecadet25

@naryanrobinson @spacecadet25 @kevinlamar

So do you think the two games are equally as good, The Last of Us and CounterSpy?  Or do you just have an issue with the concept of a scoring system, or that scores on different games are supposed to be relative to one another (higher scores mean better games, lower scores mean lesser games)?
Please explain why this is a "stupid" comment.  Enlighten us with some of your supposed genius relative to everyone else.

RobDev
RobDev

@spacecadet25 not every game that gets an 8 is as good as each other. TLOU was budget as a big budget AAA game and was scored appropriately. this was judged as a cheap, short indie game. compared to other games of it's type it scored what it does. 

Also review numbers are meaningless.

naryanrobinson
naryanrobinson

@spacecadet25 @naryanrobinson @kevinlamar I find it hard to believe that in 2014 I still have to spell out something so mind-numbingly obvious to people on this website, but here it goes, so listen closely.

One.  Of.  Them.  Is.  Cheaper.  Than.  The.  Other.  One.


Phew.  That was intense.

spacecadet25
spacecadet25

@naryanrobinson @spacecadet25 @kevinlamar

Well, you have to reiterate that concept all the time b/c it is absolutely faulty and oversimplified.  But, that's very common from people that call others "stupid."

Yes, cheaper games have lower expectations in the scoring (especially related to length of game and depth of story and mechanics), but not how well the game is executed and how fun it is to play and how much you get for your dollars spent.

Should all $1 games get at least a 5 or 6 score b/c they are so cheap?  How many extra points do you give a game b/c it's cheap?

Do cheaper indie games in general tend to have higher scores than AAA games?  No, they don't, just run through the review of games on this site, most of the cheap indie games get mediocre or low scores, with the exception of some of the ones that are very good.  And if you're just going on length for dollars spent, the Last of Us cost 4 times as much as this game, but was more than 4 times as long as this 2 hour game.

Don't call people stupid when you clearly haven't thought through your philosophy.


naryanrobinson
naryanrobinson

@spacecadet25 @naryanrobinson @kevinlamar

Lol, "philosophy"?  You sure you know what that word means there kid?  This is what every gaming review website has been doing since gaming review websites existed, the fact that your mind isn't capable of finding a way to factor price into a score is adorable and amusing, not philosophical XD

"Should all $1 games get at least a 5 or 6 score b/c they are so cheap?"

...

We find the defendant guilty of three counts of stupidity and one count of backtracking.

Case closed.


spacecadet25
spacecadet25

@naryanrobinson @spacecadet25 @kevinlamar

Work on your reading comprehension.  You said it is o.k. to rate cheaper games with higher scores than more expensive games due to the price alone, you said that.  

Well, if cheapness should give a game a boost in score automatically, how much boost in overall score is given relative to the cheapness of the price?  Explain that.  That was basically the question I asked you that you quoted, it was a question to understand your thoughts towards criteria for reviews.  And if you read the context around it that would be abundantly clear.

By the way, "philosophy" is not a big word.  A philosophy towards something is one's way of conceptualizing it or their approach (usually at a macro level) in terms of how to do something. Yes, philosophy is correctly used in context, since you indicated your general thinking towards how to review games is that cheaper games should get an advantage in the overall review score, that is a philosophy towards scoring games.

You seem to see to see price-point alone as a critical component taken into account for a review.  I, and most other people, see review scores as a reflection of the quality of the game, and the extent to which the consumer gets adequate entertainment for the price-point, not just how high or low the point is.  The price-point in itself, irrelevant on it's own.  Otherwise $1 games would get much higher scores relative to AAA games, which is exactly what I was asking you about. 

Try not to insult people in the future unless you have a really good solid reason, otherwise you're just embarrassing yourself.  The only reason I insulted you is b/c you were extremely rude to someone else.

CounterSpy More Info

Follow
  • First Released
    • Android
    • iPhone/iPod
    • + 3 more
    • PlayStation Vita
    • PS3
    • PS4
    CounterSpy is a new game by Dynamighty.
    6.7
    Average User RatingOut of 8 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate CounterSpy
    Developed by:
    Dynamighty
    Published by:
    SCEA, Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC, SCE Australia, SCEI, SCEE
    Genres:
    Action
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Teen
    All Platforms
    Blood, Violence