E3 – CounterSpy Hands-On Preview

[Promoted from our Managing Editor’s inbox, here’s another fantastic Guest Writer! This piece comes from community member, Benjamin Janca.]

CounterSpy puts you into the fashionable shoes worn by an operative working under the rogue spy agency “C.O.U.N.T.E.R.” It is your mission, should you choose to accept it, to stop both the US and the USSR from launching a nuke at the moon in an alternate reality Cold War tale of espionage and intrigue. With its interesting take on 2.5D gameplay, customizable loadout options, and a very unique visual style, it is a game that is definitely at the top of my most anticipated list for this year.

The game plays from a predominantly side-scrolling view that will stylishly switch to a pseudo-third person “over the shoulder” view while hunkering down behind cover. From here players can choose to pick off enemies or even shoot explosive tanks to eliminate large groups if they have a keen eye. The feeling I got when pulling off a well-planned and executed strategy was immensely satisfying and reminded me a lot of successfully clearing a room in Metal Gear or Mark of the Ninja. The interesting part about coming up with strategies is that being a traditional “cloak and dagger” spy isn’t the only option available to players.

I played a typical sneaking build by equipping the silent step perk and pairing it with a silenced pistol that allowed me to sneak around and karate chop every unsuspecting soldier. Had I been feeling a bit more ostentatious, I could have taken advantage of the option to increase my firepower by purchasing a rifle together with a perk to give the spy more health. It is this level of customization that made the game particularly interesting; all of the loadout options can be changed between levels to suit the player’s mood. Throughout the game, you can open lockers or other containers that contain blueprints and dossiers. These unlock the aforementioned abilities and weapons that can be purchased using money found in the game. Customizable loadouts are a great feature when the fact that all the levels are procedurally generated gets taken into account. This means that anytime a mission is started, the player is in for something fresh and exciting.

All of these mechanical elements come together for a very enjoyable experience that is always giving the player effective feedback on their tactical decisions, but what really make this game stick out are the stylistic choices made by developer Dynamighty. All the characters in the game have hard polygonal cuts that reminded me a lot of early 3D games. This gave me a nostalgic feeling which I would say definitely benefits the game. Talking to the creative director Mark Holmes, he described the game’s style as “The Incredibles meets James Bond” and I am inclined to agree. This even spills over a bit into the game’s humor. Upon walking up to a room where important documents are sure to be hidden, I happened upon a sign in the background that says in bold lettering “No Spies Allowed.” Little things like this are littered throughout the game and help keep everything just the right amount of lighthearted. The main thing to take from this is that the game is just as much a pleasure to look at as it is to play.

Overall, I really enjoyed the time I spent with CounterSpy and cannot wait to get my hands on it again when it sneaks out sometime this summer on the PS4, PS3, Vita, and mobile devices.

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