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Overview

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Sid Meier's Covert Action is an espionage strategy adventure game developed and published by MicroProse for the PC (running DOS-based hardware) in 1989.

Players control agent Max Remington (Maximilian or Maxine at their choice) of the Central Intelligence Agency, as they must work to uncover details about an on-going criminal conspiracy (either nation-wide or worldwide, depending on difficulty) and capture its mastermind.

Similar to Sid Meier's Pirates! and Sword of the Samurai, the game mixes an overall narrative with numerous distinct modes of play (including top-down stealth action, wire-tapping puzzles, car chases, and cryptography puzzles). As each mission uses randomly-generated elements, players must utilize their resources to figure out what to do next, what leads to follow, and where to infiltrate. While Max themself cannot die in combat, they have a limited time window and can fail the mission by failing to stop the criminal plot.

The game was later digitally re-released in 2014 by Retroism and Nightdive for modern PC, Mac, and Linux systems on Steam and GOG.com. Like most digital re-releases of DOS games, it uses DOSBox emulation.

Gameplay

The game splits itself into missions, where we have to capture a mastermind. In order to catch him/her though, the player must play through some mini-games to find clues on the mastermind's whereabouts.

Infiltrate a Facility

This mode, the primary attraction for the game, is played top down, and the player has to disable any guard and cameras that come in his way with the tools chosen before entering, clearing the map towards the goal. There are many things that can be done once inside the facility, like putting bugs on the phones, photographing incriminating evidence, or capturing the suspected mastermind.

If the character loses consciousness while inside the facility, the player is faced with a conumdrum: lose some time that could be used to find the mastermind, or agree to a prisoner exchange with that faction.

Cryptography

This mini-game is played inside the CIA building. The player is given a scrambled message and key letters used to decipher it. The message must be deciphered before the clock runs out.

Tailing a Car

In this mode the player must follow the suspect's car to a new location and use simple diversion methods to not be caught. This mini-game is played top-down and the cars are represented by small dots.

Wiretapping/Car Tracing

Both these spying methods involved playing the same mini-game. The player must solve a circuit board in a pipes kind-of game, where the current flow must reach its destination without sounding any alarms.

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