Also On: PS3, PS4
It pains me to say this, but Counterspy isn't a perfect game. Its flaws will be readily apparent to anyone who plays it for more than a few minutes. And yet…it's definitely in the running for being my own personal GOTY.
First, though, the flaws. Most obviously, the load times are insanely long. Like, long enough that every time I started a level, I'd get out my phone and start surfing the internet. Long enough that my screen would occasionally dim thanks to my PS Vita's power-saving settings. Long enough that…well, you get the picture. Bottom line, Counterspy's got long load times.
On top of that, it's also pretty short. That's not inherently the worst thing in the world, of course. Indeed, if you're like me and you've got a massive backlog and not nearly enough time to play everything, that might even be welcome. Plus, the way the game is set up — with lots of short, bite-sized levels — makes it conducive to on-the-go gaming. Still, Counterspy's the sort of game you'll be able to beat the game in a couple of hours, and I'm sure there are people for whom that will be a problem.
Not me, though. As I said, this is easily one of the most enjoyable games I've played this year. The gameplay is fun, a perfect mix of platforming and stealth that rewards having an adaptable play style (and has just enough explosive objects laying around for no good reason other than to launch unsuspecting enemies into the ceiling). The graphics are stylish, a wonderful mix of Soviet-era iconography and Team Fortress, with a dose of Pixar thrown in for good measure. The music is equally retro-tinged, capturing feel of a '60s spy comedy. Even the writing is top-notch; while there's minimal dialogue here, what's included is always fun, and that's without even going into the little flourishes like the names of top secret documents that are scattered throughout the levels (not to mention the little tidbits of Cold War trivia the game helpfully doles out during those interminable load screens).
So yes, the game is short and the levels take way too long to load. But as trade-offs go, those are things I'm willing to accept if it means having an absolute blast while I'm actually playing the game. By objective measures, Counterspy may be a little lacking, but in my subjective opinion, there aren't many games I've enjoyed more this year.