Version Reviewed: 1.0.131
App Reviewed on: iPad mini Retina
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Sony has brought Dynamighty's recent hit PSN game CounterSpy to the App Store, hoping to show iOS users what a proper stealth platforming game looks like.
The controls work as well as one could hope without the availability of an actual controller. A series of swipes and taps govern a variety of movements from a skulking walk that escalates into a running dive-roll, to silent takedowns and accurate laser-point shooting. There was sometimes the odd double-tap that landed me in the thick of it - opening a noisy locker rather than ducking for cover for example - but on the whole they worked well.
Entering cover (by double-tapping) behind any of the highlighted pillars initiates a swooping camera transition, granting players with a better perspective for shooting sections. This seamless switch between camera angles gives CounterSpy a unique style that bridges the gap between a platformer and a cover-based shooter flawlessly.
Players are rewarded for stealthy gameplay, though there is still plenty of XP to be gained by action junkies from headshots, shooting exploding barrels, and multiple kill streaks. Another interesting feature is the Defcon meter: the alarm system that can be raised by certain soldiers and ultimately prompt a race to the finish to disarm a nuclear strike. Worse still, this Defcon level is carried across to the next level, further emphasizing the need for stealth if players are to make it to the final level. Having various enemy classes helps keeps gameplay fresh as players pick off soldiers or force the ranking officer to surrender, lowering the Defcon level. These repercussions give a greater weight to failure, which forces players to start a new game - albeit with the weapons they've previously unlocked and collected available to purchase again.
Each randomly-generated level has multiple routes available, so not only is each experience different but the possibility for exploration is also present. This is especially handy for players who want to unlock weapons faster, or equip their agent with the latest spy know-how by collecting plans for performance enhancements that can be used as temporary boosters. The stylish cel-shaded visuals suit the sleuthy jazz soundtrack that wouldn't be out of place in a 70s Bond movie, and it gives the whole thing a great tone to set the action against.
CounterSpy is simply the best stealth-action game on the App Store. Its freedom of playing style is refreshing, and allows players to choose between going in guns blazing or taking out enemies swiftly and silently. This is a mission that everyone should choose to accept.