Spycraft: The Great Game
Personally Speaking, I Reckon It would be a pain in the arse being a spy. Every morning you'd have to get up and plough your way through a fresh 'web of intrigue'. You'd be filing reports in secret code. Meeting fidgety, chain-smoking informants down back alleys. Skulking about in subways. Being chased by accomplished hitmen. Seven days a week, with no lunch breaks.
And answer me this: when have you ever seen a Bond movie in which James Bond wakes up on a Monday morning, decides he just can't be arsed to go in to work, phones up M15 - putting on a 'croaky' voice and claiming to have 'a dicky tummy' - and then spends the rest of the day lolling about on the sofa watching Richard and Judy? They'd probably come round and blow up his flat if he tried it on. It's a crappy job: a stint in Burger King would be preferable.
Super sleuthing rules!
Far better, then, to satiate that desire to get yourself neck-deep in the shadowy world of espionage by having a crack at a game like this. Spycraft is an adventure game which enables you to stalk the murky corners of the corridors of power as an undercover CIA 'special operations' agent. Actually, calling it an adventure game isn't strictly accurate - it's much more of a fully-blown 'spy simulator' in which you get to fiddle about with almost every aspect of covert sneakiness you could think of. Satellite photography, image analysers, decoding routines, infra-red goggles - and of course, guns - it's all here. And it's all yours.
Indeed, it's pretty hard to categorise this game as a 'type' in any way, shape or form. When you first start playing, it all looks set to turn into an 'interactive movie', full of (very high quality) video sequences and the odd mouse click here and there. Then ir suddenly throws you a curve ball by chucking in some Mad Dog McCrcc-style combat sequences. Just as you're coming to terms with that, it turns into a point-and-click adventure.
And as if that wasn't disorientating enough, it goes about-face yet again and turns into a kind of'Microsoft Office for Spies', presenting you with a range of-get this - software applications, such as an identikit builder, or the 'Kennedy Assassination Tools' program, which cleverly works out the position of a sniper from the position of the bullet holes at a crime scene. The overall effect of all this is that you've constantly got something new to get to grips with. It's not very long before you're totally absorbed. This is a Very Good Tiling.
Lots and lots for us to do
It has to be said that it's been a long time since I've seen such an original and varied game design. And as well as that, it's also surprisingly 'authentic' in tone. Activision's publicity has made a big deal over the fact that Spycraft has been developed with the estimable help of William E Colby (a former director of the CIA), and Oleg Kalugin (a former KGB Major General) - and for once it seems that the publicists were right, and the association with these high-ranking skulldiggers has obviously paid off. The game actually appears to know what it's talking about.
Ruskies, guns, intrigue!
As for the 'plot' - well, it really would be unfair of me to give too much away, since most of the fun is to be had from trying to work out just what the hell is going on and why. Suffice to say that the storyline starts with a forthcoming Russian election, a nuclear arms treaty, and a smoking gun. It gets increasingly intriguing from that point on. Aside from all the high-tech gadgetry at your disposal, you've got your very own team of agents working under you plenty of different locations to snoop around in loads of suspicious-looking characters to cross-question, and finally, to please the meaner types among you. there's even a bit of torturing that needs doing (although squeamish souls do have the option to bypass the torture bits - the big wusses). Oh and by the way. it ain't easy. The game assumes that you are an adult with an adult-sized brain, and proceeds to treat you accordingly. It's also very large, so cancel any evenings out you've got planned now.
The presentation throughout is slick and assured, the video sequences are well-made (and actually feature some credible acting for once), the sound effects and music are superb, and the amount of background information is quite flabbergasting. If this one doesn't suck you in you're unsuckable. Anyone who's ever been remotely interested in sneaking about should invest in a copy as soon as possible. And that's that.
Download Spycraft: The Great Game
Systems: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game features:Single game mode