DOS – 1996
Description of Spycraft: The Great Game
One of the best spy games you’ll ever play, Spycraft is an excellent thriller developed with input from William Colby, a former Director of the CIA, and Oleg Kalugin, a former Major General of the KGB, who both make cameo appearances in the game as themselves. You play Thorn, a rookie CIA officer who is undergoing a series of “final exams” before beginning your career with the Pentagon. After you pass the tests, you are immediately thrust into a tough first assignment: investigate the assassination of a Russian presidential candidate, and prevent the assassination of the US president when he visits Moscow to sign a treaty. A video of the assassination provide your first lead as you set out to unmask the assassin and foil any attempt to kill the US president. The plot is full of twists and turns worthy of a James Bond film, involving political corruption, the theft of a nuclear device, a shadowy group of mercenary ex-intelligence operatives, a mole in the C.I.A., and much, much more. While sporting the familiar inventory bar, SpyCraft is not your average adventure game. Most puzzles are solved by using a plethora of very cool computer programs, e.g. creating a fake photo using a photo editor. You have a Personal Digital Assistant (PDA), which allows you to engage in multimedia communications with your colleagues, access databases and newsgroups, and even to connect to the Web if you so desire. (the game can even connect to a real Internet website, which Activision set up especially for the game. The website doesn’t exist anymore, unfortunately). Some of the cool high-tech programs you will use include the Kennedy Assassination Tool, which allows you to trace the trajectory of an assassin’s bullet, and a mix-and-match electronic identikit, used to create a picture of your suspect and automatically search the CIA’s database for likely matches. Other gadgets will become available as you need them, including tools for decoding ciphers, analysing sounds, touching up pictures, and many more. The game is linear for the most part, i.e. you won’t gain access to new locations and trigger plot development until you have solved the most immediate problem. Later on, though, several problems will crop up at the same time, and these have multiple solutions and optional subplots you can choose whether or not to follow. Your decision on how to deal with these problems will affect later events, and even the ending. Therefore it is possible (and a lot of fun) to replay the game to try different things to yield that “optimal” ending, or see a different one. The puzzles themselves vary in complexity, but remain in context throughout the game. In fact, many aspects of play are similar to using the World Wide Web to hunt for that elusive piece of information, by clicking on a highlighted word or phrase and tracking from link to link, and discovering interesting snippets and important clues along the way. Plot developments are delivered mostly by video clips from your superiors (which no doubt take up the most space in this 3-CD epic), and the acting is well above average. The game has a couple of small but unavoidable combat sequences, one at the beginning and one near the end, but these are fairly easy to negotiate. Action-packed James Bond this ain’t– it’s more like a Sherlock Holmes episode. Another combat sequence appears in the middle of the game, but you have a choice of either taking this path or choosing the intelligence path. Overall, SpyCraft is a well-crafted and intelligent spy thriller that challenges the player on many levels, not least by the sheer volume of information you need to sift through and deduce. If you like traditional spy adventures that require “legwork” and a lot of interaction with suspects/witnesses, SpyCraft may seem too sedantary and more boring. Don’t make any mistakes, though: this is one of the best games you’ll ever play if you consier yourself an adventure plan. As a bonus, the game also includes Shanghai II, a popular tile matching game from Activision, which appears as a floppy disk in your inventory you can ‘load’ to an in-game terminal to play. Don’t forget, though, that the Great Game awaits. Two thumbs up, way up!
Review By HOTUD
Buy Spycraft: The Great Game
Spycraft: The Great Game is available for a small price on the following websites, and is no longer abandonware. You can read our online store guide.