Posts Tagged ‘CIA’

Spycraft: The Great Game

August 2, 2021

I remembered this game from when I was a teenager. I remember watching my friend play a little bit of it during a sleepover and then I never heard about it again. Cut to seeing it on GOG.com. I bought it for under five dollars and just this past weekend I decided to try and play it.

The game is a full-motion video title that came out at a time when FMV was all the rage. FMV games are typically adventure games that incorporate actual video into cutscenes and gameplay. I have only played a handful of these but I find them fascinating. In this game, you take the role of Agent Thorn, an operations agent for the CIA. You are a rookie agent who gets thrown into the field when a Russian presidential candidate is assassinated. You and your team are tasked with tracking down the killers and uncovering the conspiracy that has infiltrated the CIA. Along the way, you get caught up with the KGB, the Russian Mafia, MI6, and American mercenaries. You meet dozens of interesting characters on both sides played by decent actors in glorious FMV.

The gameplay is rather interesting and is really what I remembered from my previous fleeting experience. The bulk of the gameplay is divided into two categories: puzzles and dialogue. The puzzles are all based on forensics and analysis of data. I will give a couple of examples. The first major one is using a trajectory plotting tool to figure out where the shooter was. Then you use facial-recognition software to figure out who the killer was from a photo taken of the window where he shot from. Then you use evidence from the photographs and eyewitness reports to determine what the likely firearm used was. From there, you have to track down how the experimental weapon was stolen through an entirely different set of puzzles. As a former sound designer, one of my favorite puzzles was scanning background audio of phone message to figure out where an informant has fled to. There are plenty of really neat games to play.

Dialogue gameplay is where you question other characters and navigate through dialogue trees to get the information you need. One particular one that I loved in the game so far is an interrogation of a female agent. You are given the option to torture her by a senior agent but are warned against it and reminded of the Geneva Convention. You are presented with several different strategies as you interrogate her. You can go ahead and torture her, you can merely threaten her with torture, you can come on strong with threats, you can fake her into believing that her lover has already been caught, you can imply that this lover has already betrayed her, and you can imply that her cooperation will benefit her and/or her lover. I chose to fake her lover being caught (with a really good-looking photoshop) and then let her believe that it was in her best interest to cooperate. She did.

There is also a combat system but it does not seem to come into play a lot yet. I plan to only resort to violence when the game forces me to. So far, I’ve been able to outsmart any bad guys.

The game was made by Activision with cooperation by former CIA Director Willaim Colby and former KGB Major-General Oleg Kalugin who actually both play themselves in FMV cutscenes. This accounts for the game really feeling like you are in the CIA and faced with a lot of the moral dilemmas that they faced. It is a fascinating world but of course, they made the game a lot less morally gray than real life. The real CIA is not to be trusted. Additionally, the depiction of the easy access of any intelligence database in the world (FBI, ATF, Police, Interpol, etc.) is frightening. It can only be worse now. All of that aside, it is a really fun game with a compelling story.

Media Update 12/14/17

December 14, 2017


Atomic Blonde

I love a good comic book movie and I have been all about Charlize Theron’s career as a badass so it was a no-brainer that I would eventually see this. Then I found out that this movie is actually a project that Theron championed for years. The first (and only) trailer I saw for the movie was exciting and funny. When I actually started watching the movie, I realized that I was in for something quite different from what I expected. This is not a bad thing. The rest of the films on this week’s edition have a lot of action and explosions and whatnot. This movie is an actual slow burn film noir/spy film with a lot of twists and turns. Theron is great as the cold as ice main character who does get a chance to tell a few straight-faced jokes along the way. James McAvoy plays a much different agent, playing his part loud and wearing his heart on his sleeve. The whole thing is set against the backdrop of the Cold War in the days surrounding the fall of the Berlin Wall. While there is plenty of intrigue, the movie does not skimp on great fight choreography. This is what I saw in the trailer but it led me to believe that this was all the movie was. The movie had a lot more depth than advertised and a lot more attitude. I definitely recommend it.


The Hitman’s Bodyguard

I love Samuel L. Jackson, the louder and more belligerent the better he is. Ryan Reynolds is in the middle of a period where he is picking great projects to work on that show off his comic skills. Samuel L. Jackson plays the titular hitman and Reynolds plays the titular bodyguard. Reynolds often plays the straight man to Jackson’s laugh out loud humor. Of course, Reynolds does get his own jabs of comedy in as the put-upon bodyguard who has to handle the worst client he probably could have ever gotten. The movie is a comedy/action road trip story that mostly allows Jackson and Reynold’s characters to talk as they travel in between awesome, elaborate action set pieces. I was impressed with how well the dialogue is written for what appeared to be just another dumb blockbuster. Not surprising is how well all of the gun fights and martial arts scenes are choreographed. There are bullets, fisticuffs, car crashes, and plenty of explosions to go around but it only adds to the story as the action sequences often do not stop the two characters from arguing. Elodie Yung does a great job as the Interpol agent who sets a lot of the movie in motion. Throw in some cameos from Gary Oldman and Salma Hayek and you have a great small cast for a big movie. I definitely recommend this one as well.


Salt (Director’s Cut)

This movie is similar to Atomic Blonde in that both are about foreign intelligence service spies trying to navigate loyalties. However, this movie is more filled with literally explosive action scenes. Where Atomic Blonde is more subtle, this movie is a bit more blatant in almost every category. That does not mean that the spy intrigue is not present. There are plenty of spy moments where we are left with a mystery to try and figure out before the end. While the two movies are similar, this movie seemed like a more personal story but a less polished movie. Angelina Jolie is the star of this one and much of the movie follows her as she tries to figure things out and the viewer tries to figure her out. We also follow both Liev Schreiber and Chiwetel Ejiofor who play off each other great. What I find most interesting about this movie is that it was originally written with a male lead in mind and it was changed to fit Angelina Jolie instead. I recommend this one as well.

Music of the Week:

Wavves – Million Enemies

Brujeria – La Ley De Plomo

The Devil’s Daughters – Pass That Bottle

Childish Gambino – Sweatpants

Kesha – Woman

Weekly Updates:
– This week’s theme is “Foreign Intelligence Intrigue”
– I started The Crown Season 2
– I am watching Longmire Season 2
– I watched more Fate/Apocrypha
– I watched more Blindspot Season 1
– As with most weeks, I watched GTLive, Critical Role, Game Grumps, LordMinion777 and KittyKat Gaming.
– I really need to get my act together for Christmas. Always waiting until late.


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