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A game by Sid Meier, who, these days, regrets it a bit, as it contains two reasonably good but very very different games in it. In Sid's words, the shift between the two works against the overall experience - by the time you finish a particular task in one of the two games, you've forgotten what you were trying to do in the other.
Half of it is reminiscent of a complicated, adult Carmen Sandiego game, where the player flies from city to city, finding secret agents, tracking down enemy organizations, following cars, and the like, all from a partially-menu-based, partially-mini-game-based interface. Once the player discovers a need to break into enemy offices, though, the game switches gears entirely, and becomes a top-down sneaker - a Stealth Based Game seen from the ceiling. The player can assault guards head-on with grenades, and even win, but it would alarm opponents so much that suspects run away and hide in holes like cockroaches, and the objective is arresting suspects while having solid proof on hands. So hiding behind the furniture, using knockout gas (and planting gas grenades as traps, for that matter) and Dressing as the Enemy is the only way to win on higher levels.
This game shows examples of the following Tropes:
- Always Check Behind the Chair: The agent may open-and-photograph not only file cabinets and tables, but also flushing tanks and sinks in bathrooms - these are just as likely to contain low-grade clues. Conversely, guards check places where a bug can be planted, especially behind the paintings. They don't actively check good hiding places unless alerted or just happen to path to something this way, though.
- Awesome McCoolname: The agent you are playing is named Maximillian Remington (or Maxine, if female), which sounds incredibly badass.
- Bizarrchitecture: Have a look at one of the many Let's Play for this game and you'll see some strange building layouts, though the badly laid out bathrooms really take the cake.
- And then you get entrances that lead to only one room, separated from the rest of the building.
- Critical Existence Failure: Getting hit 4 times (2 times without armor) results in an automatic knockout, and loss of time. You can take any number of hits less than that and have no penalty other than the time needed to recover from the wounds afterwards, which is negated by successfully arresting (or turning) an agent.
- Caper Crew: It requires the Player Character to uncover criminal plans -- that is, who participates and what exactly they are supposed to do -- and upon collecting full incriminating information either arrest them or blackmail into cooperation. Roles other than Mastermind vary depending on which of 13 basic plots is used -- there are Inside Contact, Middleman, Courier, Driver, Mercenary, Kidnapper, Researcher, Alarm Specialist, Thief, Assassin and so on.
- Difficulty Levels: Effectively five different difficulty settings are set. The master one is the difficulty used for the storyline and the base difficulty for the other four difficulty settings, which are calculated by the master difficulty adjusted by the points put into a skill; an "Average" rating means that section is more difficult, "Good" being equal to that difficulty, and additional points reducing difficulty for that minigame.
- However, if the master difficulty at Local Disturbance, then the minigames will also be easiest as well even if you don't invest skill points. Likewise, Global Crisis doesn't detect differences between "Average" and "Good" skills, but you won't be able to bring a minigame difficulty down to Local Disturbance. Regardless, maxing out one of the skills makes the game much easier in that aspect.
- Dump Stat: You should never have a need for cryptography. The only reason you would need it is if both the sender and recipient of a coded message go into hiding, which means you screwed up. Even though the likelihood of an arrested agent involved in a coded message NOT cooperating increases on higher difficulties, most of the time, you won't need the decoded message in the first place.
- Driving almost comes close, as you never really need to stake out a house and follow someone via driving (you can instead plant a tracer on the car, using electronics). However, if you driven up the alert level, you may end up needing the skill to evade the hitmen.
- Guide Dang It: Figuring out how to reach some of the organization hideouts is rather tricky, as in some cases you'll have to do wiretaps and breakins on organizations that are not associates or allies to slowly work your way towards the organization you need to get to. Reading activity and relations reports sometimes allows you to "procure" useful information even before getting to the plane.
- Topping it all off is that each game is randomized, making any step-by-step guide useless.
- Luck-Based Mission: in spades.
- The timing of the various actions taken by the people involved with the plan is random, though certain actions require other actions to be done first.
- Getting your hands on the mastermind behind a plot on the first plot depends on you successfully getting enough information fast enough to determine the mastermind's name, appearance, role, location, and group. They also have a tendency to go into hiding less than 48 hours after the start of your work on a crime, in some cases less than 24 hours.
- Turning an agent requires a lot of luck, as the following things must occur:
- The agent must still be able to do their job before being turned (I.E. the agents they depend on must not be arrested or in hiding)
- You must be able to arrest the agent (revealed their role in the plot)
- The agent's location must have floor safes.
- You must bring the safe cracker when breaking into their building so that you can open the floor safes.
- You must find "incriminating evidence" before reaching and arresting the agent. These only appear in floor safes, and they can only be obtained and used in the same break-in that you arrest the agent. A good way to improve the probability is to collect all non-safe-worthy data by wiretapping and indirect spying early on, then from non-secret places and wall safes, and arrest only on the last break-in.
- Pride Before a Fall: If you play on Local Disturbance, one of the criminals is always located in Washington, and is always part of an organization that created a relevant clue. It is a message sent directly to the mastermind, saying that Max Remington working on the case is no cause for concern. Naturally, you determine that the recipient is the mastermind by that single message.
- Save Scumming: This is pretty much the only reliable way to break 1000 efficiency points.
- Spy Fiction: But of course.