🐳 How many games has Beethoven been credited on? (answer)

Sid Meier's Covert Action

aka: Covert Aktion
DOS Specs [ all ]
Buy on Amiga
Buy on DOS
$39.95 used at Amazon
Buy on Linux
Buy on Macintosh
Buy on Windows
(prices updated 9/22 3:48 AM )

Description official descriptions

As special agent Maximilian (or Maxine) "Max" Remington, you are the premier anti-terror agent in the world. CIA have received tips and clues about some suspicious activities of some known bad guys. Gather enough evidence through house search, wiretaps, etc. Decode any messages you discover to unravel additional clues. Each operation will be handled by multiple people. Figure out the crime before it happens and get enough evidence to find the true mastermind behind the whole thing. Then chase down and arrest the suspects via car chases or go into the house arrest the suspect yourself. Can you arrest all the masterminds?

Covert Action is best described as a secret agent simulator, with a heavy dose of puzzle and some top-down shooter action. You'll follow the hints all over the world, surveil suspect safehouses, apply wiretaps (which is a puzzle sequence), even go inside and check each and every drawer without arousing suspicion (by keeping very quiet). If you're discovered, you'll need to avoid car chases or you'll end up shooting it out with the bad guys. You can also "tail" a suspect (with multiple cars) and see if you can find another safehouse or more headquarters to search for clues. You have a silenced pistol (or Uzi) and three different types of grenades, plus other high-tech toys. As you get closer to the mastermind, the plot gets more intricate, timeline gets shorter, code breaking is tougher, and enemies harder to take out.

Groups +




See any errors or missing info for this game?

You can submit a correction, contribute trivia, add to a game group, add a related site or alternate title.

Credits (DOS version)

25 People · View all



Average score: 76% (based on 19 ratings)


Average score: 3.9 out of 5 (based on 43 ratings with 6 reviews)

Great spy game.

The Good
The different difficulty levels, the car chases, the break-ins, the wiretaps, and just about everything.

The Bad
The graphics were fine for its time but are now a little outdated.

The Bottom Line
You are an agent and you have to stop a terrorist plan from forming by capturing as many of the participants as possible and ultimately catching the mastermind.
It includes the KGB, CIA, M16, and many other groups.

DOS · by Attila (553) · 2001

Stupidly addictive fun

The Good
-The wiretapping puzzles were, for me, really fun. The perfect combination of challenge, fun, and flexing the ol' grey matter.

-The simple, addictive gameplay.

The Bad
-The breaking and entering aspect of the game makes the other parts redundant and unnecessary.

The Bottom Line
Covert Action is a game that harkens back to an arcade style of gameplay that existed in the days when a huge variety of games existed in the arcades. Back in the day when "top down view" wasn't a dirty word, and first person views were rare.

You take on the role of Max Remington, Secret Agent. You can play as a male or a female. Your gameplay is not affected, though Sam, your secretary, will be male if you are playing "Maxine," and female if you are playing 'Maximillian." The closing "reward" screens will also be similarly affected.

There are four parts to the Covert action game:

  • Combat (aka "breaking and entering")
  • Driving
  • Crypto
  • Electronics

Combat is the portion of the game where you break into the office of a known criminal organization and, using a top-down view, snoop around for clues. With your trusty safecracking kit and spy camera in hand, you can rifle through filing cabinets, look through safes, check out the drawers of desks, and so on. You can also plant bugs to potentially overhear what the bad guys have to say. And once you find out who the actual criminals are, you can go in and arrest them. (Or, if you're lucky, you can find incriminating evidence which will turn them into an informer, and let them rat out their co-conspirators.)

Driving is a puzzle-ish part of the game, in which you and another car tail a suspect. The cars you drive have varying ratings for handling, top speed, and "conspicuosity." The idea is to keep the car of the suspect in sight without him noticing you, until such time as he stops and enters his destination building. If the subject you're tailing notices you, he'll dash into a nearby restaurant instead of going to his intended destination, and you lose the trail. (You also get this portion of the game if bad guys tail you from a hideout you've been investigating. At that point, you have to ditch them.)

As you go through your investigations, you will run across coded messages. The Crypto section is where you decode these messages.

And finally, Electronics covers wiretapping and electronic car tracing. You are presented with a circuit-board interface featuring several rows of microchips. Current flows through the circuits, and the chips alter the flow in various ways. At the beginning of the puzzle, the "phone" circuits are powered and the "alarm" circuits are unpowered. Your goal is to cut the power to the phone circuits -- and avoid powering up the alarm circuits -- by switching the chips around.

The game also features four difficulty levels:

  • Local Disturbance
  • National Threat
  • Regional Conflict
  • Global Crisis

These difficulty levels affect many aspects of the game.

  • Clues - At the Local Disturbance level, you start each mission with a 10-12 clues, including the locations of several key organizations and suspicious characters. As you play the higher difficulty levels, you start each mission with progressively fewer clues. At the Global Crisis level, you start with 2 or 3 clues, usually unrelated, and usually not very helpful.
  • Double Agents - At the Local Disturbance level, you don't have to worry about double agents within the CIA. At higher difficulty levels, you deal with more. Global Crisis missions will usually have 3 double agents within the CIA, and sometimes 4. CIA double agents don't actually hamper your progress in any way, but if you don't find them, you lose points in your final score.
  • Combat - At the easiest levels, combat is simple: Max is lightning fast on the draw and never misses. The bad guys are slow, stupid, and can't shoot worth a damn. At the higher levels, Max slows down and misses occasionally. And the bad guys improve their aim, their speed, and are much quicker to sound the alarm.
  • Driving - Easier levels give you faster, less conspicuous cars with better handling, while saddling your suspects with Yugos. Higher difficulty levels reverses the situation.
  • Crypto - At Local Disturbance level, the coded messages have all the punctuation and proper spacing, and the code is a simple 1-to-1 substitution cipher. Additionally, you can get computer assistance to help you crack the code. At higher levels, the punctuation is removed, the computer stops helping you, and some common letters are represented by more than one letter in the code. At the highest difficulty levels, all the spaces are removed, so you just end up with one big chunk of random letters.
  • Electronics - At lower difficulty levels, all chips are visible, all chips are switchable, you don't have to deal with inverter chips, and circuit-joining chips make things a lot easier. At higher levels, some chips start out "covered," so you don't know exactly what kind of chips they are. Other chips are "fixed," meaning you can't move them. You also see inverter chips and circuit-splitters show up, and circuit-joiners disappear. At the highest level, you have chips that are covered AND fixed.

Finally, when you start the game, you are given four points to spread among your four skills. These points have the effect of lowering the difficulty level for that specific skill only. So if you think you're ready to play a Global Crisis mission in every area except for Combat, put 3 of your points (the max you can put into a skill) into Combat, which will have the effect of reducing the Combat portion of the game to National Threat level while leaving everything else at the Global Crisis level.

Believe it or not, the game is insanely addictive. There's always one more mission to take, one more bad guy to track, one more hideout to find, and one more Mastermind to capture. I call the game "stupidly addictive" because the gameplay is so mind-bogglingly simple AND repetitive. And yet you can do it for hours and never get tired of it.

My only gripe with the game is that the Combat portion of the game really makes the other portions of the game useless. There is no information available from the other three aspects of the game (Driving, Crypto, and Electronics) that isn't also available from the Combat portion. But, on the other hand, there are several key pieces of information that are only available from breaking into a place and snooping around. Breaking and entering is the only way to find out where the CIA double agents are, for example, and is also the only way to find "incriminating evidence" which will turn a criminal into an informer. And since time is limited, breaking and entering is the fastest, most efficient way to find out clues and info.

Occasionally you run into a situation where you cannot turn a criminal into an informer, due to a lack of floor safes in his/her building. (Incriminating evidence is only found in floor safes. No floor safes, no incriminating evidence.) At that point, wiretaps and/or bugs may be useful to be privy to info you would otherwise get from the turned agent. But this is rare. 90% of the time, you can turn the agent, and get all the info you'd get with a wiretap or a bug.

Anyhow, despite this complaint, it's still a fun game (and I still do wiretapping from time to time anyways just because I like it so much). If you've never played it, give it a whirl.

DOS · by Afterburner (486) · 2005

Sid Meier Strikes Again!

The Good
Addictive, I loved to tap into phone lines and get all kinds of info. As usual Sid had created a game that you can play for years and years.

The Bad
more options could have been included.

The Bottom Line
Its a Sid Meier game duh! just play it.

DOS · by Shawn McDonie (13) · 2000

[ View all 6 player reviews ]


Copy protection

The set of faces you are shown before each case is actually the game's copy protection, not a gameplay element. It is cracked in most abandonware versions of the game.


  • Covert Action was first worked on by Bruce Shelley and Sid Meier">Sid Meier between the making of Railroad Tycoon and Civilization.
  • Sid Meier is quoted as having a rule of game design he calls "The Covert Action Rule," inspired by this game. He found that it was hard to keep track of the story in the midst of all the minigames, so he created this "rule" to prevent himself from making multiple games at once.


The Amiga version of Covert Action had a much higher resolution picture of the CIA Director (see screenshots for the PC version). In addition to more facial detail, the Amiga Director had a large "jelly stain" birthmark on his bald head which made him look exactly like former General Secretary of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev.

The main character, Max Remington, is named after graphics artist Max Remington III who worked at MicroProse from 1988-1995.

Technical issues

A lot of nostalgic gamers are disappointed because Covert Action seems to crash on modern computers when you want to break into a building, but don't worry: It doesn't. Because of bad programming, the code does hang when you try to enter a house - but only for a couple of seconds. After that, you can continue. This delay occurs only the first time after you run the program, so it's not a big deal. This technical issue can be fixed by running the game with DOSBox (http://dosbox.sourceforge.net). Be sure to set the "Cycles" value in DOSBox.conf to about 5500 for best gameplay.


  • Computer Gaming World
    • November 1996 (15th anniversary issue) – #12 Most Memorable Game Hero (Max Remington)

Information also contributed by ClydeFrog, EboMike, PCGamer77 and Zack Green

Related Games

Sid Meier's Railroads!
Released 2006 on Windows, 2012 on Macintosh, 2023 on iPhone...
Sid Meier's Pirates!
Released 2007 on PSP
Sid Meier's Antietam!
Released 1999 on Windows
Sid Meier's Pirates!
Released 1987 on PC Booter, 1990 on Amiga, 1994 on DOS...
Sid Meier's CivNet
Released 1995 on Windows 3.x
Sid Meier's SimGolf
Released 2002 on Windows
Sid Meier's Civilization
Released 1991 on DOS, 1993 on Windows 3.x, 1994 on SNES...
Sid Meier's Colonization
Released 1994 on DOS, 2012 on Windows, 2014 on Linux...
Sid Meier's Gettysburg!
Released 1997 on Windows

Related Sites +

Identifiers +


Know about this game? Add your expertise to help preserve this entry in video game history!

Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Tony Van.

Linux added by Sciere. Macintosh, Windows added by Foxhack. Amiga added by Katakis | カタキス.

Additional contributors: Terok Nor, Mark Langdahl, Kasey Chang, Patrick Bregger, Plok, Victor Vance.

Game added November 28th, 1999. Last modified August 22nd, 2023.