A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that CounterSpy is a two-dimensional, side-scrolling downloadable action-adventure game that involves strategy and counterintelligence themes. The levels are randomly generated, which gives the game replayability value, and online leaderboards let players see how well they stack up against others. There are four difficulty levels, but harder levels need to be unlocked. Violence includes use of a variety of weapons (primarily guns) to shoot enemies, who spurt blood before dying. The game looks like a stylized cartoon with themes of the Cold War era.
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What's it about?
COUNTERSPY explores a time when there was a race for "the biggest and pointiest missiles," and the threat of nuclear annihilation was real. Instead of setting the game in the real world, CounterSpy inserts the C.O.U.N.T.E.R. agency into an alternate world, sabotaging both the Imperialist and Socialist schemes. The game uses mission-based scenarios and randomly generated levels to challenge players, with harder difficulty levels that need to be unlocked. One nameless and faceless agent is the protagonist sent on missions, and he can dispatch enemies using stealth tactics or go in with guns blazing. The game also incorporates minor platforming elements into the overall mix, which requires some strategy to get at all the hidden elements and the main mission elements.
Is it any good?
CounterSpy is a stylized side-scroller that looks great; has a nice, bouncy musical theme; and is just plain fun. It's intuitive to play before the challenge ramps up as players progress. Lots of games promise to put you in the shoes of James Bond-like spies, but very few attempt to capture the spirit and flair of the Cold War the way this game does. The angular lines of the nameless spy provide an innate sense of stealth that oozes from the screen during each base infiltration. You can choose to be stealthy or go in guns blazing, but you still feel like a super-spy in possession of secret weapons and gadgets to help you achieve your mission.
The clever hook of searching through bases for documents and secret plans will scratch the covert itch for many players as they try to prevent both the Imperialists and Socialists from achieving their goals. What's even better is the surprising competitive play; based on how well players do on a mission, they receive an overall score for their campaign, which factors into a global leaderboard. At any time, you can attempt to best the score of a particular mission, giving you the opportunity to earn bonus cash and gear. It's this element that adds a sense of multiplayer competition in a game that's really a single-player experience. Overall, CounterSpy is big on personality with a nice mix of fun thrown in; it doesn't take itself or its time frame seriously but focuses on an entertaining spy experience.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the difference between cartoon/animated violence and real-world violence as shown in CounterSpy. Which has a stronger impact? Why?
Talk about the Cold War era and the different perspectives of the countries involved. Why did diplomacy fail on both sides?
- Platforms: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita
- Price: $14.99
- Pricing structure: Paid (This game is available online through the Sony Computer Entertainment store)
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: SCEA
- Release date: August 17, 2014
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Adventures
- ESRB rating: T for Violence, Blood
- Last updated: August 25, 2016
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