When I first started playing Secret Agent: Cold War Espionage, I got upset by the lack of direction, loose controls, and weird control scheme. Going in cold, the first couple stages can be frustrating until you understand what kind of game this low poly James Bond simulator actually is – a satirical take on a 3rd person spy thriller.
By the time I watched the credits roll, my opinion about this sleeper hit game changed dramatically. If you watch my stream embedded in this article, you’ll notice my frustration with the opening tutorial and overly sensitive aiming. Once I got a grasp on what this game was doing, my mindset changed and was able to enjoy the ride.
Simply put, you play as international spy that is basically James Bond and it is your job to stop a giant bomb from exploding. However, this is not an action game nor does it contain any tactical espionage action like in the Metal Gear series. While there are sneaking segments, there isn’t really a punishment for getting caught. On a rare occasion, a guard might shoot you for trespassing, but for the most part, you can walk directly in lines of sight or even trigger alarms without a care. This is not Metal Gear so tripping an alarm doesn’t any do anything other than making an annoying sound.
Once I got over the learning curve, I enjoyed my time with this 2-3 hour campaign. However, there are gripes that cannot be overlooked that really hold back the experience. First, jumping isn’t mapped to the “A” button which is weird and confusing. Then, in level 1, the playable agent has a very small vertical leap. But every stage afterward, it is possible to jump on top of buildings with a single leap without explanation. In fact, you can jump so high, it is easy to take fall damage. Killing yourself by landing from a short ledge is how you will experience the most game overs.
Next, movement speed is painstakingly slow, especially when crouch walking (sneaking). The giant vertical leaps actually make movement faster but fall damage is so sensitive, it isn’t reliable. And speaking of sensitivity, aiming pistol shots to take down enemies or security cameras is nearly impossible due to the loose play control. The slightest flick of the right stick when aiming is enough to point you in an entirely different direction and might be the most sensitive controls I’ve ever experienced. It is a problem as it makes performing what should be the simplest tasks the most challenging.
The low poly visuals, one color design, and smooth jazz spy musical tracks really play into the whole spy thriller theme. It is a little weird that character models do not have faces and it is impossible to tell which end of a car is the front/back, but the purposely designed low res presentation makes this game what it is. The visuals do not take themselves seriously, just like the gameplay, story, and voice acting. It would have been nice to have a volume adjustment though.
Secret Agent: Cold War Espionage is a game you will most likely hate when you start to play it. However, I encourage you to stick with it and you’ll find that its quirks are what set it apart, minus the flaws listed above. I even went back and replayed stages to clear out some extra Achievements too. Although it is far from perfect, I appreciate the ridiculous, carefree design and have a strong feeling this game will fly under the radar and be remembered as a quirky sleeper hit. This game is not what you expect and all the better for it.
Also Try: going back and playing Syphon Filter 1-3 and seeing how poorly they aged
Better Than: a typical point and click adventure title
Wait For It: a sequel with tighter design and controls
By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief myGamer.com
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