GAME: Covert Action, 1990

Covert Action is one of the brilliant games from a game genius Sid Meier, published by MicroProse. In the game the player takes the role of either Maximillian Remington or Maxine Remington, a CIA agent investigating crimes and terrorist activities.  In the beginning of the game, after the player chooses whether they want to be a male or female agent and the difficulty level of the game, they are taken to the boss’s office. The Boss explains the current mission, where it’s taking place and also gives some hints. After that, the player is on his own.

During gameplay, the player will break into offices, safehouses and hotels, wiretap phones, solve coded messages, follow cars and get follow by other cars and of course, fly all over the world while chasing criminals. The play is very independent, so the player can choose where to go, and what to do. Only thing that has to be accomplished is that the criminals and terrorists are captured before they find out that the player is after them and go into hiding. When there are no more criminals free, the turn ends. At the end of the turn the players triumphs are calculated, and based on the final score, the boss will promote you to a higher rank agent. When the game proceeds, the promotions are smaller and are harder to get. The game is very entertaining, and challenging.  Some jobs are harder to master than others, but not really impossible. Things definitely get easier after practicing. 

The gameplay is pretty complex compared to other games of the era. The player’s independence enables the game to develop in different ways, so it doesn’t get boring so easily. The complexity allows the player to try different approaches and tactics, and see the different outcomes. The game throws in random surprises, like messages about agents gone into hiding and clues about special terrorist items that can be found with the agents. If the difficulty level is set to be harder, sudden car chases will happen after trying to leave a building quietly.

The graphics of the game are typical for the time; pixelgraphics with some animations. When breaking into a building, the agent is viewed from above, and is moved around on a big floorplan. All items and furniture are also viewed from the above: it takes some time to understand what piece of furniture is usable, and what is there for just decoration. Also, tapping the room can be performed by placing a bug under a painting on the wall: takes a little while to understand what is a painting and how to get underneath it.

Notable part of the graphics are the views from different locations. The main menu looks always the same, but at the bottom left corner is a distinctive picture of the place. For example, in Paris there is a pixel-drawn picture of the Eiffel-tower, London has Big Ben and Rome has Colosseum. Attention of details is well worth a notice. Same with the buildings: the more activity the place has, the more little animated action there is. 

This was one of my favorite games when growing up, and that’s why I chose it as the first review. I played for hours and hours, and learned English along the way. I got pretty good at it, and I think that I got into being a top5 level agent. The game intrigued me in so many levels, and I never lost interest. Even now, after so many years, I still play this game every now and then.  


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