Of all of the stealth games shown off at E3, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain was the highlight. That doesn’t mean that there weren’t plenty of stealth games worth attendees’ time, however. CounterSpy is one of the many 2D stealth games coming to PlayStation 4, and it could serve as an appetizer before the main course that is Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.
CounterSpy uses spy films and the Cold War as inspiration for its bold setting. I played as an employee for the C.O.U.N.T.E.R spy agency. This agency is tasked with taking down super villains. In this particular demo, I needed to collect secret launch plans from the enemy’s base and sabotage their computers.
CounterSpy is designed to let players sneak carefully or run in guns blazing. I found that it was more efficient to sneak, although I did have to defend myself whenever I was in trouble—the game essentially prefers players to be sneaky. Luckily, CounterSpy’s protagonist is equally skilled in stealth and combat.
The game is a 2D side-scroller; however, it does have a modern feature found in 3D games. I could sneak behind a crate and press circle in order to take cover. At this point, the game seamlessly switches to a 3D perspective. From here I could aim carefully at my enemies’ heads and take them out with my silenced pistol, ready to take cover in case I mess up. It’s not just a cover-based shooter, however. If I wanted to, I could fire my weapon out of cover, but the camera does not switch to a 3D perspective if I chose to do so. I usually did fine in a heated fire fight, although, as with most stealth games, I needed to run when the enemy soldiers called for backup.
Although it at first seemed like 2D Gears of War, CounterSpy is actually what I would expect from a spy game. I could either run at normal speed, or I could gently move the analogue stick, so I could sneak up behind my enemies; from there, I could break their neck by pressing the contextual face button. I could also climb ladders, and use the same cover system to hide, until I could sneak past enemies. If, for whatever reason, an enemy notices me as I attempted to sneak by him, I could take him out with two quick, surgical knife-hand strikes to the throat. I could be as methodical as Snake or as gung-ho as Bond, but the game always graded me as a spy.
While CounterSpy feels nice to control, and is satisfying to play, I also wish to see more variety in the gameplay. In the full-game, I want to use more gadgets and hand-to-hand combat moves. I also hope that there are plenty of alternative paths that I can use for sneaking. But for what it’s worth, indie studio Dynamighty seems to have created a potentially excellent 2D alternative to Snake’s latest adventure.
CounterSpy is coming soon to PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita and PlayStation 4.