CounterSpy is yet another fine example of how Sony Computer Entertainment and smaller developers (Dynamighty) are working together; giving the gamer the best quality and value for money with a great library of games that offer both cross-buy and cross-save across all formats.Set in an alternate Cold War era, the Imperialists and the Socialists are just a few steps away from unleashing nuclear Armageddon; however rather than destroying the Earth all of the missiles are pointed at the moon. Playing as an agent from the rogue agency C.O.U.N.T.E.R you have been called in to infiltrate bases and missile silos of both of the crazed superpowers and collect enough data to put a stop to their plans.CounterSpy is a mixture of stealth, action and platforming as you sneak your way through randomly generated enemy bases, though what initially appears to be a 2D platform game seamlessly blends into an fixed screen, over the shoulder shooter at certain points, your agent jumping from behind cover for an old fashioned spy shootout, dispatching of foes and security cameras from relative safety before progressing, stealing secrets along the way to boost your coffers and increase your arsenal.Though the levels are randomly created they do have a similar signature with plenty of hidden passages and walkways to discover, some lead to vital intel, other offers an alternate route through the levels, allowing you to get to a more advantageous position to clear the room of guards and cameras. With every successful mission a new level is generated, each time also adding more difficult hazards to overcome, like a new type of camera that cannot be destroyed or even adding more guards, some you can take out with simple headshots whilst others wear helmets, requiring you to get more elaborate with your kills like using one of the explosive crates that they have conveniently left lying around or drawing them in to your position and taking them out with your deadly hand to hand skills. Though most of the time the enemy guards are predictable, they do start to pack more hardware as you get further into the game, upgrading from machine guns to grenades and rocket launchers.With the end result mostly being to kill all in the room there is also an element of problem solving in each level, defeating large groups of enemies without receiving too much damage plus taking care not to increase the Defcon level too high, with enemies radioing in or cameras tracking you, costing vital Defcon levels. With the Defcon gradually rising as you make mistakes, when it does finally hit Defcon One you will cause the final launch clock to start, giving you only 60 seconds to reach the end and stop it or the nukes will launch. A great extra stress to the gameplay is that with Defcon levels continuing at the same level as the previous level it is vital to play between each faction, taking care not to set too many alarms and raise it even higher.Thankfully as you play more levels you will gradually collect more useful weapons and gadgets (formulas), the game starting you off with the noisy C.O.U.N.T.E.R Pistol you soon collect enough blueprints for a Diplomatic Pistol that comes equipped with a silencer and from there rifles, shotguns and a rather handy Dart Persuader which fires chemically laced darts that briefly causes the enemies to turn on one another, allowing you to go loud and clear the room with ease. Aside form the weapons, as and when you complete formulas you can preload your agent with special items before each mission, all having a special ability like your agent taking less damage, tricking the security system to drop a Defcon level to a signal scrambler that makes guards calling in to raise the Defcon level a lot slower.Playing on a normal setting the game really did not take long to complete, but on the more experienced difficulties the game really does offer more challenges, but again thanks to collecting more weapons and cash the game opens up quite quickly. For an added gameplay element, if playing with an internet connection you also have a chance to play against other Agents, with the game selecting a rivals previous score, your aim along with completing the mission is then to beat their score which in doing so during the following level you will find the agents body to search and earn score extra score bonuses which in turn adds a little longevity thanks to an online high score board.With a catchy spy soundtrack, a little humour added and great visuals CounterSpy is a game that will initially keep you playing for a short time and thanks to the random nature of the levels and plenty of blueprints to unlock will keep you entertained enough to earn that gold trophy.ProsShort, fun action packed levels.Great blend of platform, action and stealth.The very distinctive visuals are great on any console.ConsA little shortLoading times on the Vita are very slow.
Words by Ash