Compared: April 7, 2002
Spy Hunter offers a unique balance of action, combat, and racing with plenty of things to shoot and blow up. The offensive and defensive capabilities of your super spy car is the stuff that Q dreams up for Bond, but Bond never had a car that looked this cool.
Somewhere during the course of the port to the Xbox something went drastically wrong. Point of View, Inc. managed to take a perfectly good PS2 game; put it on a system that is definitely more powerful, yet the end result is truly one of the most visually disappointing games I've played on the Xbox to date.
Round 1: Control
The controls are quite good in the earlier levels but get bogged down a bit in later levels when you have multiple weapons and countermeasures and must cycle through them, often in a panicked attempt to find and fire the correct one. Steering is tight and responsive using the analog control.
I tried using a wheel but the game just isn't suited for that kind of a controller even though it's pretty cool pressing buttons on a wheel to launch rockets and drop oil slicks just like Bond.
This round has to go to the PS2's Dual Shock simply because the button and shoulder button layout is more intuitive to the gameplay. The Xbox gamepad just seemed awkward, even after several hours of spy hunting.
Round 2: Visuals
Somebody dropped the ball when bringing this title over to the Xbox. The brightness/contrast on all the in-game graphics is simply TOO DARK! There are no brightness settings in the options menu, so your only choice if you want to make this game bright enough to play, is to adjust your TV brightness and contrast. Oddly enough, the dark graphics are only during gameplay. The menus and cutscenes all look bright and "normal", which only emphasizes how dark the game graphics are when it comes time to try and play the game.
The PS2 graphics are identical in quality to the Xbox and do not suffer from any of the darkness issues. Combined with the fact that both versions maintain an excellent 60fps makes the PS2 the clear winner for this round.
Round 3: Music & Sound
The PS2 features some incredible sound effects and great music including a great remix of the classic Peter Gunn theme. Saliva was brought onboard to do two new versions of the Spy Hunter theme and you can even unlock one of their music videos.
On the other hand, the Xbox sounds are all strangely muffled forcing me to turn up the volume higher than normal to make this game sound close to any of my others. I'm not sure if the designers were going for a Dolby mix and screwed it up or what, but the sound is just muddled and really bad on the Xbox.
Round 4: Other Deciding Factors
The Xbox version of Spy Hunter features the original arcade version as a hidden bonus, but even that isn't enough of a reason to tempt fate and purchase this version.
If you have a PS2 then you will want to definitely get that version. If your only alternative is to play Spy Hunter on the Xbox, then you have been warned. It's a shame that an otherwise excellent game is literally ruined with poor graphics and sound. Even the exclusive inclusion of the original Spy Hunter arcade game is not reason enough to get this game.