Originally posted on 28 May 2016.Author: Xenus Icelon
Covert Action is a game almost as old as I am, and it has aged very well.
Players begin play as special agent Max Remington of the CIA and their goal is to stop nefarious terrorist plots from happening. To do this the game offers a few clues and the tools to find out more about the plot currently in motion.
These tools come in the form of four minigames. A combat/stealth hybrid, a driving game, a cipher, and an electronics game. If you find yourself incapable of figuring out the plot one way, you can go through things with an other minigame. This coupled with plentiful options for clues such as local informants means that you will never truly be stuck. But with time of the essence, you will need to decide on how to spend your time, as with every move you make time progresses and the plot continues.
That said, all plots are doable in about an hour each if you don't purposefully delay them.
A big part of the game is figuring out this plot, and finding a way to get into it and disrupt it. You may not always know the hideout of your enemy, you may not always have the evidence to arrest someone who you know is involved. And there are red herrings out there. You need to think things through before acting, figure out where you want to go and when or you will just plain not be able to stop the plot. It's a bit of thought to figure these things out, but it is very satisfying when you get it right.
The minigames are more like one large game, and three minigames. Due to how important the combat/stealth game is you will find yourself doing it often. Everything the other games do, you can get done by the combat minigame as well. You can find clues, messages, make arrests, and do what the other games can not- Find insider info and incriminating evidence to turn an enemy agent into a double agent.
As the most important, or at least most used of the minigames it is also the most fleshed out. You can hide crouched behind desks, sofas, and a whole lot of other furniture, or even standing up behind a file cabinet. Once you have downed an opponent you can take their uniform and disguise yourself, so that other guards don't shoot you on sight. The disguise will work as long as you have your back to the guard - they'll figure out something is up if they see an unfamiliar face. The stealth system in this old gem is a lot more complex than one would at first expect, and once the alarm goes off the combat is again pretty good. You can use cover to avoid being seen by your enemies as you flank them, throw three different kinds of grenades, shoot, and if you run into an enemy you defeat them in personal combat at the cost of one wound.
The goal of this minigame can be whatever you're after. You can go in for an arrest, or you can go in looking for clues. Bringing a camera allows you to take pictures of their sensitive documents(And whatever they hide in the bathroom), while a safe cracking kit lets you open floor safes for insider information. They have a computer system as well, where you can search for information if you can manage to find or guess the password.
For the driving game, I've only found one use. Making an arrest while driving, which can be much easier than going into the hideout. You are also at times followed when driving away, landing you in the driving game where you need to drive to the CIA office in town or get ambushed by armed men.
The cipher game lets you decipher messages you've found, giving you the evidence needed to arrest someone as being a certain participant in the plot. They also help in telling you who, what, and where.
The electronics game lets you wiretap a hideout, giving you information and notifying you of messages they send out. It also lets you put a tracker on a car.
Good design ages well, and it shows. All these minigames work together to make for a great game, four minigames with a single overarching almost puzzle-like game that lets you work your brain to figure things out. Then feel great about yourself for stopping a plot and arresting everyone involved, getting a trip to the casino and having a well deserved vacation. Or you know, you could bumble around for a while and then your failure sends the country spiralling into chaos.
I know I certainly deserved this time off!