I had quite an affinity for the original arcade game. One of my earlier memories is of playing the original Spy Hunter on my NES. I used to play it for hours, laying down smokescreens, bumping enemy cars off the road, and generally having a great time. I was hoping to relive that nostalgic experience with Midway's updated version of Spy hunter for the GameCube. Needless to say, I was severely disappointed.
Spy Hunter is, quite frankly, one of the absolute worst games I've had the displeasure of playing on the GameCube, or any system, for that matter. I'm actually appalled that a horrible piece of junk like this could actually make it through Midway.
The general premise of the game is that you're a Hollywood-type spy, with a cool car that goes really fast and has lots of different types of gadgets. Your job is to take down the requisite evil empire by driving around and shooting stuff. I'm not going to go into a detailed explanation of the storyline, because it seems limited to one or two cut scenes and a handful of mission briefings.
But you're not playing Spy Hunter for the story; you're playing it to drive around and shoot stuff. The tasks are mostly "fetch" tasks to move onto the next level, with secondary tasks added to "complete" a level. This is what's called manufacturing replay value; while the game, from start to finish, would likely only take a couple of hours to repeat, the added requirement of having to play each level over and over again to complete one obnoxious objective adds to the replay value tremendously, but in a bad, tedious way.
This might be OK if the actual gameplay was fun, but it's really not. The objectives are either absurdly simple or outlandishly difficult, and it gets to the point where you really just stop caring about the game very quickly. The problem really is that, with so much repetition, the game just plain gets old fast. One day's worth of gameplay is not worth $50, no matter how you cut it.
It doesn't get better when you consider that Midway didn't even try to disguise the fact that they simply ported the PS2 game to GameCube without even attempting to take advantage of GameCube's superior hardware. This is particularly evident in the control scheme. One would expect that, being a driving game, that Spy Hunter would use the analog shoulder buttons for acceleration and braking, and one would be wrong. In fact, A and B are used for these functions, which is an absolute sin. The only reason I could think of to have this awful control scheme would be if they just ported over the PS2 code, since the PS2 doesn't have any analog buttons to use for such functions. If you think that you might want to reconfigure the buttons, tough luck. The default control scheme is the only control scheme available.
Graphics are equally bad. Pixelation abounds in Spy Hunter; the ground looks like a mess of gigantic blocks, and there are jaggies all over the place. Again, there's not so much going on that they couldn't take advantage of the Cube's graphical capabilities to make the game look cleaner, but obviously Midway was more interested in making a quick buck than putting out a quality game. Basically, Spy Hunter looks like a late-generation PS1 game more than a second generation GameCube game.
Sound is fairly generic, although there's a decent remix of the original Spy Hunter's song. Sounds effects and further music are generic, and voice acting is passable.
All in all, Spy Hunter should be avoided at all costs. It's not worth even a $5 rental, let alone a $20 purchase.