The Spy Who Shot Me Review

A Satirical Tongue-in-Cheek James Bond Knock-Off Retro Romp!

I have to admit, I’m always a little perplexed by the draw of retro games on modern consoles. I mean, why pay huge sums of money for a machine that has amazing processing power, only to buy games that my calculator can operate? 

That is not to say there isn’t a nostalgic need that can’t be filled or great retro-inspired games with a modern twist can’t be made, but The Spy Who Shot Me, ironically, truly never filled one of these holes. 

The Spy Who Shot Me is a bold-as-brass, satirical piss-take of the James Bond franchise dressed up in the retro style of the classic GoldenEye 007 game. The tongue-in-cheek humor and action are more Inspector Clouseau from The Pink Panther than James Bond, but that is not necessarily a bad thing, it’s just the execution and the jokes are, well…poor. 

The main character is Agent 7 (instead of double-o-seven), who has an uncanny resemblance to Sean Connery, and is tasked by Mother (M) to trot around the globe chasing the bad guys called S.C.U.M. in search of missing nukes. To be fair, there are a lot of different locations in this two-hour romp to explore, and it’s not all from a first-person shooter perspective. The developer does manage to mix in some third-person sequences to change up the gameplay, so there is a lot of variety. 

Agent 7 starts each level with a pistol, but during exploration of each level, he will find more weapons to use and health packs. The assortment of weapons isn’t vast but is at least varied, ranging from machine guns, grenades, and shotguns to throwing knives and rifles.

Agent 7 explores the world to find checkpoints (highlighted with a “7”), shooting bad guys along the way, that will then unlock the next part of the map and so on. There are checkpoints sparsely spread around each level, so if you die (and it is surprisingly easy to do so since it only takes four to five hits), you will go back to the last used checkpoint, which could be a decent trip back in the level. 

There are no ADS or reloads to worry about. If you have 150 rounds for your pistol, you can keep firing those shots with no break until there are none left. This was kind of cool as it meant you just keep blasting away at enemies who make a beeline for you, so it generally meant ammo conservation wasn’t an issue. 

Then, when you get to the end of a level, some of these involve timed events to escape or to stay in an area while being swarmed by enemies, or a boss fight. 

There are also fun little touches in that shooting things dotted around the game world will react in humorous ways. For example, to release any hostages you find, you shoot them. At the base of operations in London, if you go to the snooker room, you can shoot the balls to try and pocket them. 

On paper, this all sounds like a fun little game, which it is, it’s just the visuals are so basic and the voice acting so cringe that it put me off enjoying what simple tastes the game had to offer. 

I’ve seen more effort put into a blocky world by my 5-year-old daughter in Minecraft than I did here. The world is bland, sparse, and very boring. The Jamaican powerboat level is especially bad. A wide expanse of blue as the sea with little or no effects is very dull and not very inviting. The rest of the levels, varied as they are, are just blocks and buildings. 

I get that the game is trying to look and feel like GoldenEye 007, at which it does succeed, but haven’t we moved on just a little bit from that technologically to at least make it a bit more inviting and interesting to play? 

The control systems, where modern technology could have helped, again, seem missing in action. No matter how much I tried to adjust the speed of the movement and smoothness of the aiming reticule, I could never find that sweet spot to be instantly accurate like I can with other FPS games. The less said about the controls of the aforementioned powerboat, the better. 

The audio, especially the voice acting, was the most grating of all. Whoever voiced Agent 7 thinks they can talk with an upper-class twist but most certainly can’t. It’s all a bit too cliched and far too cringe. To be fair, the soundtrack with its 8-bit retro vibe throughout the game and the gun noises were excellent. It’s just a shame that the same level of fun wasn’t put into the voice acting.

Don’t get me wrong, there is fun to be had here, and there are some nice touches with the variety of locations and weapons. Being able to just fire your weapons with no respite until you were dry was very refreshing. It’s just the gameplay is so basic and repetitive that I could only play for about twenty minutes at a time before I became bored. 

That boredom could have easily been removed if there was even just a little more effort put into making the game look a bit better than it was, the control system tighter, or the jokes funnier. These things would have carried me through with a smile, but alas, they didn’t.   

 

Summary

It is blatantly obvious what the developer is trying to achieve here, and that is being a modern, tongue-in-cheek, comedic version of the gaming classic GoldenEye 007. It does exactly that, but then it is at times so cringy, so basic, and un-funny that all it did was remind me how much we have moved on from this sort of thing rather than be the enjoyable, funny romp down memory lane it was meant to be. 

Retro-inspired games with modern twists can be fantastic, for example, Sea of Stars, but The Spy Who Shot Me is a bland, cringy trip that only the most desperate Bond fans would venture down.

Developer: Retro Army Limited

Publisher: Pixel Heart

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 & 5, Xbox One/X/S, Steam

Release Date: 4th January 2024

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