Combining vehicular combat with James Bond-inspired trappings, Agent Intercept originally hit Apple’s Arcade back in the summer of 2021. Now, several months later, it’s bringing its cartoony secret agent action to consoles. Regardless of platform, though, the question remains the same? Is PikPok’s arcade game worth your time and money?
Upon starting Agent Intercept, you’ll be treated to some very James Bond-y dialogue between two talking heads. One is your boss, that being the lady who runs and governs your special agent network, and the other is a very caricatured scientist type. They introduce a forgettable story that tries to make you care about some sort of feud between themselves and an evil organization that is appropriately named CLAW. However, as is sometimes the case with mobile titles, and especially arcade-flavoured ones where story is secondary to gameplay, it doesn’t have a lot of depth or do a great job of roping the player in.
The general premise here is that CLAW is up to no good. As such, we — the hero of this story, and the seemingly unnamed James Bond clone — must do whatever we can to stop them from being jerks, and go on to save the day. This is done through the use of Sceptre — a special car that can drift like the best of them, then turn into a boat if it comes across water, or a jet if it needs to reach the clouds. Needless to say, it’s a lot like something Q would create for Agent 007.
When I described this title in previous paragraphs, you likely suspected that Agent Intercept was a game where the player controls every aspect of the vehicle. That isn’t the case, because this particular title has auto-drive. All that’s left up to the player is maneuvering, attacking and avoiding damage. This means drifting, moving out of the way of rockets, gunfire or mines, and trying to cause as much damage as possible using machine guns, lasers, rockets, mines or good, old-fashioned, ramming. The catch is that Sceptre only has a limited health bar, and it can deplete awful quickly. As such, one must be careful and not get too overzealous.
Herein lays a problem with Agent Intercept: it often hopes for more finesse than its controls allow. As a mobile turned console game, it’s also stuck inside trappings that are used to hook mobile users into continuing to play. Things like heightened difficulty, multiple objectives that aren’t always enjoyable to complete, and both time trial and score attack modes with leaderboards. From the onset, it’s easy to tell that this thing wasn’t created with consoles or controllers in mind, as it merely controls half decently on Xbox.
Simply put, this thing is just more frustrating and cumbersome than one would hope for from a console game. That’s because of its mobile roots, though, and its lack of difficulty options. You can opt for cheats, which double your health or add other types of buffs, but I didn’t want to do that. Those with interest will also note that enabling such things can screw up one’s ability to unlock achievements.
Agent Intercept starts off middling and challenging, and doesn’t really get better. Its campaign mode is made up of three different chapters, each of which has several cheesy and over-the-top missions to complete using a car, boat or jet. With each one comes a list of objectives, or intel as the game likes to call them. You’ll need to complete a certain amount to unlock each chapter’s final mission, and will be challenged to unlock them all as you play through the rest of its modes.
Intel objectives can be pretty basic, but they can also be quite challenging. One will task you with completing the level, or with disabling the enemy’s vehicle before a certain point. Others will ask you to drift a shitload, avoid mines or other enemy weapons, reach a certain points plateau, take out a certain number of foes’ vehicles, get a high score multiplier or stop a boss before he gets close to the end of a level. It’s the type of list that looks easier than it is, and you’ll likely need at least two, if not three, play throughs to complete every objective. The drifting ones, in general, are quite demanding.
As you play, you’ll unlock side missions. These are available in a separate menu, and seem to involve a lot of going after specific bad guys, or helping certain allies. The general idea here is that you must complete at least three intel objectives in each side mission in order to unlock the next one, and so on. Thus, there’ll likely be a decent amount of trial and error going on.
Since Sceptre drives itself, your job is to steer it and control its drifting and boosting. This is generally pretty easy, but sometimes the controls make it so that the car doesn’t drift every time you’d like it to. The vehicle can also be a bit annoying to control during drifts, and in its other forms, which can make it hard to collect score points along the way, or pick up weapons. These are indicated by blue, orange or red markers, and they’re pretty important. The weapons are especially helpful, because they’re what you’ll use to take out most of the goons you’ll come across.
Rockets are the most plentiful of all the weapon pick-ups, and they lock on. You’ll see a cross-hairs appear on an enemy vehicle, and will be able to fire a rocket straight at it if you hit the button in time before falling back or passing said SUV, car, boat, etc. Mines are more strategic, but also pack quite a wallop. Meanwhile, the machine gun can be finicky to use, because you have to be lined up perfectly in order to hit anything. As such, I wasted a good amount of ammo on absolutely nothing.
At the end of the day, though, this is a game that is cheesy, occasionally frustrating and mediocre at best. Although I was looking forward to playing Agent Intercept, starting when its press release and trailer arrived in my inbox, I never really clicked with or thoroughly enjoyed the title. The developers hope that they’ll entice folks to keep replaying for better scores, or via the time and score attack modes’ leaderboards, but the core gameplay just isn’t good enough. I looked forward to finishing things and being done with the experience, as opposed to going back and replaying it on a regular basis, which is never a good sign.
Maybe this was all more effective as a mobile game, but it just doesn’t translate to consoles that well. It’s built for another style of gaming, and isn’t all that console friendly. It doesn’t help that the controls and presentation are mediocre at best, or that the story is kind of annoying and very predictable. I ended up quickly skipping through the dialogue so that I could avoid the over-acting and the over-the-top, James Bond wanna-be, writing. I do, however, respect that it has options that allow players to choose between performance and fidelity modes.
The biggest sticking point here is that Agent Intercept is $20 (American) on consoles. That’s way too much for this type of game. The value just isn’t there for something you’ll likely get a couple of hours out of at most.
I respect the effort that went into this one, but can’t really recommend it as is, even if its stylized visuals are sometimes neat.
This review is based on the Xbox Series S version of the game, which we were provided with.
- Has a somewhat interesting, stylized art style
- Quite a few different modes (story, side missions, time trials, score attack)
- Fidelity and performance mode options
- Wants more finesse than its controls allow
- Never truly clicked
- Can be frustrating and forgettable