The easiest way to make long-time franchise fans jump out of buildings or hurl themselves in front of oncoming locomotives (other than making a string of craptacular sequels) is to take a proven formula and toss it out on its butt. Better yet, make the different stuff so dreadful that newcomers to the series hate it too - the perfect storm.
It pains us to say it, but they took your Spy Hunter and turned it into Generic Action Game #714. In Spy Hunter: Nowhere to Run, the super-sweet Interceptor car/boat/all-around ass-kicking machine is no longer the sole element of gameplay. Rather, for an uncomfortably large part of the time you’re put in the shoes of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as he shoots, punches, and piledrives hordes of brain-dead minions in a quest to stop some sort of nefarious plot that you won’t care enough to follow anyway.
Even the best parts of the game feel less than satisfactory. In the not-plentiful-enough driving missions, the Interceptor changes from car to boat to motorcycle based on the situation at hand, loaded to the gills with all sorts of explosive weaponry. Rockets, machine guns, lasers, smoke screens, oil slicks (you know, real Spy Hunter-y kinds of things) and others are deployed to take out enemies on ground and in the air. There’s even a nifty little "Salvo" mechanic that lets you take out multiple targets in slow-motion goodness.
Despite the savage firepower, the piloting of your vehicle of the moment is diminished by a so-tied-to-the-rails element that it’s literally impossible to crash the car, smash the boat, or even dump the bike (no matter how hard we tried to have the Rock take a dive). You'll still be dodging all sorts of obstacles, though, like trains, armored cars, helicopters, artillery shells, and assorted deadly fare. Take too many of those kinds of hits and it’s curtains for your carboatycle.
Too bad that's the best part. Once The Rock opens the car door, it becomes the same third-person linear shooter you’ve played a hundred times before, complete with exploding barrels, numbskull enemies, "go through this green door" navigation guides, medical kits, and gun lockers. What’s worse is that the aiming is sluggish and if you happen to not do exactly what the game is expecting, nothing will happen. At all.
Surprisingly, there’s no discernable difference between the Xbox and PS2 versions. The production values are far from pretty – some characters’ mouths don’t even move during various cutscenes – while the driving and shooting controls could also use some work. Throw in some groan-inducing Hollywood dialogue ripped from the worst Bruce Willis explosion/romance (explomance?) movies, and clearly there could have been more work done to make the game better.
Evidently, Spy Hunter: Nowhere to Run is based upon a movie that may or may not ever come out (we checked on this, and no one knows for sure), which only adds to our confusion. Why the change from the classic formula? Why The Rock? We sure don’t know, but the end result is a ramshackle affair that will please neither hardcore Spy Hunters nor Joe GTA.