Spycraft: The Great Game

Moby ID: 966
Windows Specs
Buy on Windows
$5.99 new on Steam
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Description official descriptions

As a new CIA operative, you've been called to Washington. Apparently a Russian candidate for president was assassinated (read: shot) while giving a public speech. Can you uncover a conspiracy that reaches the highest level of government (both US and Russia)?

Spycraft is an adventure game with simulation elements that involves quite a bit of puzzle-solving. With input from ex-head of KGB and ex-head of CIA, the scenario is frighteningly authentic. You choose your actions from what is available on screen. You will need to collate large amount of information, and pick out certain patterns that will lead you to what you need. You are helped along by your trusty PDA which highlights the areas to be investigated (i.e. puzzles to be solved) and keeps track of relevant facts.

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Credits (DOS version)

227 People (226 developers, 1 thanks) · View all

Interface Artists
Systems Director
Tools Programmer
Puzzle Programmers
Application Programmers
Online Programmers
DOS Programmer
Macintosh Programmer
Installer Programmers
Production Coordinators
Production Assistants
Associate Producer for Online
Associate Producer for Localization
Music and Sound Director
[ full credits ]

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 78% (based on 23 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.8 out of 5 (based on 65 ratings with 3 reviews)

A truly great spy game...

The Good
I like this game a lot.

Personally, I have been a fan of espionage for quite a while. Being interested in WWII counter-intelligence up to today's high-tech spy gadgets helped me like this game.

Sure, it's all simulated. But this game immerses you into it's atmosphere, making you feel like you are actually using the equipment. Considering it's all on 3 CD's, it's a pretty good game.

Graphics are par for the course considering the age of the game. But all the interaction is pretty straight-forward and the acting is pretty good. A plus is that the Former Directors of both the CIA and KGB portray themselves in the game. It adds that touch of realism to the game.

Sound is pretty neat. Background music is good, but sound is used in things like voice identification. Kinda cool trying to match up voiceprints.

Gameplay is much like a FMV movie but with a lot more interaction. Again, the use of real-life spy gadgets adds the realism. Another bonus is that some of the game's sequences change when you play over. So it's not quite the same game twice.



The Bad
Unfortunately, when I picked this game up, Activision had already taken down it's internet companion to this game. It's a shame that they did, because I think that it was probably a cool feature.

The Bottom Line
A great FMV-style spygame. A rare find (in my opinion) and worth the money you shell out for it.

Windows · by Chris Martin (1158) · 2000

The great game, indeed

The Good
Back when I was growing up, the computer games industry moved on from laserdisc games and focused on what are known as “interactive movies”. The first of these was Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective, released in 1991 by ICOM Simulations (Yes, the same company that produced Shadowgate). Other companies followed suit, including Activision, who wanted to create an authentic spy thriller, produced in collaboration with William Colby and Oleg Kalugin, former heads of CIA and KGB, respectively.

And authentic it is. You play Case Officer Thorn, the newest recruit of the Agency. After receiving a message telling you to meet in the lobby, you get to see what it looks like as it was in 1996. Thorn then proceed to the DCI's office where you get introduced to the team members who would be working with you. The only thing not authentic are the members themselves. After the meeting, it's off to “The Farm” where most case officers have to prove their worth. What you do out in the field will come into use during the game. When he is done with that, Thorn eventually finds out that he is in charge of the investigation into the assassination of a Russian presidential candidate, and he has to protect the US president from the same fate.

I really liked the majority of stuff that you do in the game. You go into your office and access the tools that real case officers use. You'll find out the identity of the assassin through mix and match, eavesdrop on phone conversations, tap into other federal agencies to get information, send a squad team into a busy residence to find an informant, and more. I played SpyCraft back when it was released, and I think I found it easy to get through the game the first time without consulting a walkthrough. I haven't played it for ages since then, so my skills are quite poor.

You are also equipped with a device called InteLink, which you have to use during the first five seconds of the game. You are given an introduction of each component as you open it up, and it is your job to figure out the rest. You mostly use it during the game to communicate with your fellow team members via e-mail and do some research. I like when you send an e-mail, you get a reply straight away. The InteLink acts like the internet browser, with forward, home, and back buttons, among others. The general blue-and-white scheme really blends in as well.

I also liked the multiple paths that you can take throughout the game. You can go by the rulebook or work against it. In my opinion, there are so many interesting things that you can do on the “bad path”. One such example is choosing to rifle through your supervisor's office to get a list of people for someone calling himself Harmonica. By taking this path, you also need to make sure that you don't get busted, or Thorn suffers the consequences.

Another option available to you in the game (if you select a specific option during the installation) involves the use of electrocution in order to force information out of your suspect. Basically, if he or she refuses to give it to you, then you increase the voltage then try again. The CIA itself doesn't condone the use of torture. If you cross the line, your suspect dies and you are sent to prison. It's brutal, but this type of torture was common back when SpyCraft was released.

I enjoyed making mistakes that have amusing outcomes. At the start when you have to perform field training, you can piss off Frank Milkovsky by selecting the wrong answers. But the highlight is taking charge of the four-man squad team, where you can enter the wrong rooms for a chance to be shouted at and do stupid things like putting one of your men in jeopardy.

As I said earlier, each of your team members are real-life actors. Since they were not high-profile actors, I haven't heard of them before. Out of all of them, I think DCI Sterling (Dennis Lipscomb) is a remarkable actor. I quite like his performance when you fail to save the president at the end or hesitating in the finale (which is excellent, by the way). DDO Warhurst (James Karen) plays your supervisor who turns traitor much later in the game.

The game also includes the full version of Shanghai II: Dragon's Eye, a mahjong-type game created by the same company. It appears as a floppy disk in your inventory and can be accessed anytime you are in your office. It is ideal if you need to take a break from the main game, but don't want to leave it.

The Bad
When I first played this game, I never saw what WebLink was like back then. All I know that it requires you to login to Activision's servers to make full use of it. You don't have to access this component in order to play the game, but it adds a new dimension to the game's realism. It is useless now because Activision shut down its portals years ago, and they should have thought twice about that, like storing every web page as HTML files on the game's CD.

The Bottom Line
SpyCraft is one of the best realistic games that I have played so far. It has an interesting story and brilliant voice acting from lesser-known actors. It also features objectives which require you to access tools that real CIA case officers use. At the end of the game, Activision promised a SpyCraft II, but because sales of this game have been disappointing, the sequel never came to fruition.

DOS · by Katakis | カタキス (43093) · 2015

A serious spy game with some serious problems

The Good
You play a CIA agent in similar style to James Bond. Your objective is to investigate the assassination of the current Russian president. With all sorts of cool spy tools at your disposal, you will delve into the world of espionage to uncover the deadly plot. Your actions directly effect which of several endings you’ll get.

Spycraft was indeed a challenge. Getting to know all of the various spy gizmos (the Comlink, PDA, etc.) wasn’t easy. There are a couple of areas I remember most vividly. For instance, in one section you had to doctor a photograph before showing it to a suspect you were going to interrogate. You are given various choices of objects to place within the photo, but they have to be placed in specific spots and at exact angles making it ridiculously difficult. In another part you had to analyze a group of background sounds to see if you could locate the whereabouts of someone. Isolating the various sounds using the Sound Analysis was tricky. Decoding cryptic messages using the Cypher Tool could have been handled better also.

The story unfolds gradually, giving you new twists and turns along the way. Keeping your wits about you is the key to finding the culprits behind the assassination. You must use every tool at your disposal and really dig into the evidence to find the hidden ingredient that will break open the case.

The Bad
I had serious problems playing Spycraft. I played this game on a brand new Pentium 166 with 32 Megs of RAM (which exceeded the box requirements), but still couldn’t get the game to function properly. I continually had to uninstall the game and reinstall it because it would not initialize my Soundblaster 16 Plug ‘N Play drivers. In order to finish the game, I had to reinstall it with each new boot-up, which became tiresome to say the least!

So why did I continue with the game? The story got me! I was intrigued to the point that I had to find out “whodunnit”.

The Bottom Line
It may play better on today’s faster machines, but be forewarned that you may experience some serious problems with Spycraft. If you can get it to play, you will find it to be very challenging, suspenseful and full of great spy stuff. Believe it or not, I liked it despite the problems I had.

Windows · by Jeanne (75977) · 2001

Discussion

Subject By Date
Digital Antiquarian covers the game Pseudo_Intellectual (66248) Mar 18, 2023
For Sale - Unopened New Product Dan Brown Nov 28, 2007

Trivia

Development

Fomer CIA Director William Colby (died on April 28th, 1996 , two months after this game was released, in a canoe accident) and Former Major General of the KGB Oleg Kalugin lent their espionage expertise to Spycraft, and also portray themselves in the game's movies.

References

When you're at The Farm and in Jeffries's office, if you keep pressing the message button on his phone, you'll hear an interesting James Bond-ish message. When you're in the Washington, D.C. office, try dialing 976-SUCK.

Release

Activision originally planned to release Spycraft under the Infocom label. (Promotional posters showcasing their upcoming releases displayed an alternate cover with the Infocom logo.)

Awards

  • Computer Gaming World
    • May 1997 (Issue #154) – Adventure Game of the Year (Readers' Choice)

Information also contributed by Daniel Albu, Trixter, William Shawn McDonie and Ye Olde Infocomme Shoppe

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Chris Martin.

Macintosh added by Corn Popper.

Additional contributors: Kasey Chang, Jeanne, Patrick Bregger.

Game added March 5, 2000. Last modified February 21, 2024.