|The First 100% QuickBasic Game Review Magazine
Updated November 20, 2004
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Spy For Hire
(SBM Productions and El Cheapo Studios)
"Protecting the Country... for a Price"
The Queen is one of the most important
diplomatic and political people in the Australian continent. In fact, her
well-being is so important to the government and safety of her country
that she has hired a special group of spies to protect her from any potential
You are one of the spies enlisted by her Majesty.
Instructed to limit physical violence as much as possible, stealth will
be the key as you carry out 14 delicate reconaissance missions.
use of animation and visual effects to stimulate the senses
|Spy For Hire is
a good example of a simple-looking game that does some pretty extraordinary
things. Action takes place on a non-scrolling black background, and the
tiles are drawn to fit the spirit of early 3D games like Out of this World.
If the game's graphics consisted of these uncomplicated sprite designs
alone, then the graphics would not be that impressive.
The thing that makes
Spy for Hire stand out is special effects. The lighting techniques used
in some of the levels of Spy for Hire works to set a higher level of atmosphere
and gameplay. Another impressive feat is the fog effect, which overlays
some levels (thus adding an element of foresight to the game.)
smooth blend of atmospheric sounds and original harmonies
|The poor rating
for Spy For Hire in the audio category isn't because of the quality of
sound effects, but because of the sparseness of it. There simply aren't
enough in-game sound effects (beyond the level end sound and the sound
the cursor makes in the level select screen) that warrant giving Spy for
Hire more than one star for sound.
precision of control and involvement of character within its universe
|Those who've played
Metal Gear's Virtual Missions will be very familiar with the layout of
Spy for Hire. Broken down into fourteen levels, the goal of Spy for Hire
is to capture the flag without being seen by the group of guards looking
around each of the level's narrow hallways. The enemy guards can only see
straight ahead regardless of weather conditions, but thanks to a top-down
view, you can see the entire level including some possible paths to each
flag. The trick is to be able to travel through the maze when the guard's
backs are turned.
The most impressive
feature in Spy For Hire are night and fog missions, which influence the
gameplay greatly. Even though there's no difference in the way enemy guards
patrol from level to level, the limited visibility in the different weather
modes demand a different level of attention that otherwise wouldn't be
In difference, the
most upsetting part of Spy For Hire's gameplay is it's lack of control.
With confusing tile by tile movement and unresponsive controls, it's very
difficult to find safety when moving around quickly, and very frustrating
to get caught in a level when you know you dodged enemy sight in time.
creativity and presentation of the game's critical plot
||Spy For Hire has
a story, but it's feels very detached from the game. The only occurence
of any storyline is at the game's beginning, whose text form comes out
like an afterthought. It's a shame too-- because the "Australian spy" angle
could have really benefitted from some demos or cinematics.
|Replay Value (n.)
timelessness of the gamer's delight, such that the experience can be repeated
again and again
|Depending on your
tolerance for the game's different weather conditions, the replay value
in Spy for Hire can vary. The night missions are really cool, but the fog
levels make no sense. How enemy guards have the same field of vision regardless
of fog not only comes out as a mystery, but it also hurts Spy for Hire's
strike the mental nerve in such a way as to stimulate human thought and
|In order to increase
the challenge, SBM Productions and El Cheapo Studios added a 20.5 second
time limit to beat each level. That means each room has to be navigated
through pretty quickly, regardless of weather conditions or the number
of guards on the screen. This causes a nice transition of challenges from
level to level, with rooms emphasizing stealth, speed, and skill.
|Fun Factor (n.)
overall entertainment value as maintained throughout the adventure
|One of the things
taken for granted when it comes to games like Metal Gear Solid and Splinter
Cell is how much time companies like Konami and Ubi Soft invest to give
the game very responsive and accurate controls. This is one of the features
that Spy for Hire lacks, which is critical because it requires split-second
timing to creep past guards and accomplish true stealth. This becomes especially
apparent in the blink-happy fog levels, where it's not only difficult to
control the game, but it's also difficult to see what's happening. Thankfully,
any particularly distressful levels can be skipped through the game menu.
With level designs varying from fun to frustrating, such a feature can
be any spy's best friend.
Spy For Hire Reviewed
||To solve: 2-3 hours Final Rating:
download Spy For Hire (204KB), click here.
you're unzipping this program in DOS, use the -d option.
game requires a 100% Sound Blaster-compatible sound card.
play Spy For Hire, unzip the file and run "GAME.BAT".
Back to Puzzle
Productions and El Cheapo Studios
out of 35 points
Highs: Unique graphics style mixes old
school graphics with impressive special effects.
Lows: Painful menu and in-game controls
are tied together by a poor keyboard handler.
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