I gripped my Uzi tighter. My palms were sweating and my gloves felt sticky. I glanced over my shoulder. The motion detector was showing nothing, but I could have sworn something moved. The stun grenade booby trap was still intact. I went back to work.
The safe-cracking equipment did its job and I began to search through the papers. A name, a photo, a meeting place. I photographed them all for later use.
Carefully closing the safe, I moved across to the picture on the wall. I removed it from its resting guards were behind him.
As they charged into the room, I rose from behind the desk and raked my Uzi from left to right. The guards fired back,and a bullet shudded into my body armour.
Seconds later, and the guards' bodies were hidden out of sight and I was continuing my work, the alarm bells shrieking out a warning. Hard to believe that only one hour before I'd been soaking up the sun in Rio.
Blimey! It could almost be Anneka Rice on the Holiday programme, couldn't it? But it's not. No, surprisingly enough, that is exactly what you'll be doing when you play Covert Action. Yep, it's Microprose's long-
Well OK, it's not really a spy simulator. It's actually billed as a "techno thriller", but th3re's no sign of drugged-up ravers in dust masks, you'll be glad to hear. In fact, it's quite hard to compare Covert Action to anything at all. It's actually, gasp, An Original Idea!
OK, so what do you do? Well, you take on the role of Max Remington, ace secret agent and inventor of that things that shaves jumpers. And by the way, Max can stand for either Maximmillian or Maxine, so there's noe of this sexism here.
You'll be given your tasks by the CIA bossman (who looks alarmingly like of Gorby) and you've got to do them. But it's not that easy.
Rather than telling you what to do, the bossman just tells you that some terrorist organisation or other is getting a bit suspicious and you've got to find out what they're up to. How you do this is, more or less, entirely up to you.
Or you can go for the obvious option and break into their buildings and have a rummage around to see what you can find. Slowly but surely you'll build up a case file on all the people involved in the operation. You'll now have to find out all you can about these agents. Who they are, who they work for, what their role in the whole affair is.
You'll also need to steal incriminating documents and decipher them to discover what they're up to, and also what their relation is to one another. Keep this up and you should be able to figure out what they're planning to do and stop it.
To arrest an enemy agent, you need to first find out where they are, and then break in. Search the building and you'll eventually find them sitting around.
If you're sure you know exactly how they're tied up in all the dirty dealings, then you can arrest them - otherwise they'll just walk away from the charges.
Work your way through the organisation and hopefully capture the Mastermind behind it all. Capture all the Masterminds from all the enemy organisations and you get to put your feet up at the taxpayers' expense. Phew!
So let's look at the four main sections in turn, shall we? First of all, there's Phone Tapping. This takes the form of a puzzly bit in which you have to cut off the flow of electricity to the phones without tripping alarms. And it's supernaturally hard. Luckily, it's not essential to progress.
Then there's the Car Chase section. This is, unfortunately, utter crap. It looks terrible and it's very hard to work up any excitement at all about it. Just watching some little blobby sprites chug round an unconvincing city map. Ho hum.
Now we come to Code Breaking. This bit is good fun, actually. Each letter in the coded message actually stands for a different letter, so A could really be F, for instance. Work out what each letter really is, and the message starts to take shape. Simple, but fun and rewarding.
And finally, the Computer/
The control system does seem a little strange at first, but it soon becomes second nature and you'll be leaping over furniture and dodging bullets with no trouble at all.
On top of all this, there's always the question of who's involved, and can you trust the local information? Should you arrest the enemies contact now, or later on? One wrong move and the rest of the operation goes into hiding and then you're really scuppered.
In short, Covert Action is massive. All the missions are interlinked, with all the enemy in cahoots and working towards some fiendish conclusion. Solve one mission, and you'll find that it leads to the next. The whole thing slots together perfectly to create probably the first every truly intriguing spy game.
There are a few moans. The graphics are a bit on the dull side, and the fact that you have to photograph a file to see if there's anything of use in it is a pain. This means that you waste precious film just looking in empty desks and stuff.
But what the hell? Covert Action is by no means a perfect game. It's not even brilliant. But it is an interesting and novel change from the currently creaking RPG bandwagon. You'll know already whether or not it sounds like your thang. If so, investigate it!