Tread softly, trust no-one

Operation Stealth logo Amiga Computing Excellence

My name is Glames, John Glames CIA Field Operative extraordinaire. Let me tell you about my last mission: Operation Stealth. The Stealth Fighter is the latest radar invisible warplane - the pride of the U.S. Airforce, at least it was until person or persons unknown thieved it from under their very noses. Of course, it was a bit difficult to trace on account of the radar invisibility. So that was my mission - bring it back or kiss goodbye to a promising career.

Professor Carling provided me with lots of hi-tech toys: False attaché case, exploding cigarettes, safe cracking devices - the sort of things that no self-respecting secret agent should leave the house without.

As usual I did not have much to go on but on arrival at Santa Paragua Airport a quick trip to the toilet soon solven that problem.

Did I mention the Paraguay connection? One of our agents in Santa Paragua sent a telegram asking for help with the Stealth Affair. I suspected that General Manigua, probably in cahoots with the commies as well. So from the airport I caught a taxi downtown into a world of subterfuge darker than the dark side of the moon on a very dark night.

Thus in Operation Stealth you assume the role of CIA Agent John Glames. This is done by means of Delphine Software's widely acclaimed Cinematique system, first seen in Future Wars. Everything can be controlled by moving the mouse pointer around the screen and pointer around the screen and selecting actions or objects from pulldown menus.

This system was criticised in Future Wars for being a little difficult to use: Some vital objects were so small that it was a matter of chance whether careful sweeps of the screen with the pointer would bring them to light or not. The positioning and size of objects is improved upon in Operation Stealth. This does not mean it is easy though - you still have to work out what to do with an object once you have found it!

The weak point of the Cinematique System is persuading Mr Glames to walk where you want him to. It is easy to confuse him into missing a door and even after quite a lot of practice a slightly misplaced pointer can send him onto another screen which means an irritating pause for disk consultation.

Like all adventures, Operation Stealth is heavily dependant on clearly presented text, and it seems that Monsieur Delphine Software is not entirely au fait with the finer points of the Queen's English. Getting someone from this side of the Channel to proof read the agme would surely have got rid of the more gross grammatical gaffs. A number of embarrassing unamusing messages spoils the overall atmosphere of the game too. But these are small points. The graphics, although done in a comic strip style, are a clear and colourful representation of John Glames' three dimensional world and must fill a large part of the three disks that comprise the Operation Stealth package.

The sound, although not continuous, is excellent. Footsteps step and doors click perfectly. Secret agent gadget noises, adding atmosphere to the proceedings.

All in all Operation Stealth is a pretty damn good adventure game. The depths of depression and frustration when you cannot solve a puzzle are surpassed by the raptures of joy when you finally untangle it. I would not regret mugging my piggbybank to buy the game and it has been interesting enough to keep me awake into the early hours of the morning on several occasions. And you cannot say fairer than that.


Operation Stealth logo Amiga Format Gold

US GOLD £24.99 * Mouse

Stealth bombers, the USAF's infamous invisible war planes, are good. So good in fact, that the airforce itself has lost track of one. Last radio contact with the missing bird was over the banana public San Paragua, a dictatorship on bad terms with everybody, so the CIA are sending one man to get their jet back. A man named Glames: John Glames.

You are that secret agent, so after a hasty briefing you are flying down to Rio (or San Paragua, actually). To kick off the mission, you are armed with a briefcase crammed full of espionage goodies and your own native cunning. Ask the right questions of the right people, look in the right places and use the right gadgets and you will find that flying machine.

The adventure rolls like a movie from scene to scene, employing different views as the game changes pace. The main action is seen as a 3D adventure where the hero is guided by mouse clicks, with other angles used for the arcade action sequences, as the hero swims and runs for his life. This is Cinematique, an interactive system designed to avoid all that tedious text typing found in 'normal' adventures.

Glames struts into the airport, unaware and unprepared for the events ahead. To start the (thunder)ball rolling he must check for messages, steal a suitcase and get a false passport together. With no background info on the country, it pays to look everywhere and experiment with everything that is not nailed down - even things that are nailed down can prove useful. A forgotten coin in a vending machine gets you a paper, for example, which proves a source of life-saving clues.

Standing at the airport waiting to be kidnapped gets you nowhere, so actions must start speaking lourder than words. Emplooying the menu functions of use, operate, speak, take, examine and inventory you are free to move fast. Glames is an active agent and can do almost anything you want.

There is only one correct solution, so make sure than anything that can be done is done, every item examined, each possibility explored at the first opportunity. Even airport toilets prove invaluable, providing cover and powerfor secret devices. As the time ticks away, Glames visits parks, mineshafts and even the seabed - not all through choice. Expect the unexpected, be prepared and plan ahead.

As with all agents of the undercover variety, JG does not uncover plots as much as fall straight into them. In no time at all he will receive coded messages, be shot at, attemptedly drowned (twice!), get kidnapped and play at being a magician's assistant. And as the story gets more outrageous, so the addiction level starts to rise.

Life is not all correct decisions and cognitive nonsense, since spies live as much on their wits as by their Iqs. Interspersed throughout the game are arcade sequences that seek to kill you real quick. Escaping from one perilous situation Glames faces some daunting cave diving, without the aid of an aqualung or safety net! Once inside the head honcho's mansion he has to dart through a maze of doors avoiding guards in a desperate bid to save his lady.

GRAPHICS AND SOUND

Operation Stealth oozes class. Delphine have turned their system finely and the result is a truly excellent graphic adventure. The characters are sharp and move with precision, while objects can be examined from a distance. Attention to graphic detail and continuity gives Operation Stealth real character.
The animation reveals the intensive research Delphine have undertaken. They must have sat through hours of Matt Helm and Flint movies to obtain the level of tongue-in-cheek inspiration so obvious in the game. The graphics are humorous but not at the expense of the game, which grows in menace as the plot gets ever more ludicrous. The cartoon sequences are slightly over indulgent, cleer but long, reducing your role to that of a viewer and not a player.
After the great sounds of Future Wars - Delphine's previous Cinematique project - the music that accompanies the tale is comparatively dull. The single theme is repeated at different tempos with some occasional scene setting music in different locations.

LASTING INTEREST

With a single solution and one life per game, Operation Stealth is a stayer of the first degree. It can be a real pain in the hidden compartments, especially during the arcade sequences where you die quickly and cannot save, so getting to the next savable position becomes the game's motive force. There are enough options to keep you guessing, but few enough to give you a chance. Glames keeps you on the ball at all times, collecting objects that have no apparent function now but that may be vital in a later scene. Fiendishly designed, Operation Stealth will take a long time to solve, with countless tantrums along the way.

JUDGEMENT

Operation Stealth is a worthy successor to Future Wars. With the improved Cinematique system, the game flows smoothly, maintaining pace and atmosphere. Once you are familiar with the character and his abilities, Glames is a flexible and friendly hero. Indulging a classic cinema genre that is readily suited to this style of game, Operation Stealth breathes life into those Bond fantasies where every woman is a sex kitten, every belt buckle is a bomb and dinner jackets are standard issue.


Ein Spion mit Stil

Operation Stealth logo Amiga Joker Hit

Nach dem erfolgreichen "Future Wars" bringt Delphine Software jetzt das zweite Cinematique-Adventure heraus: Statt als Fensterputzer durch die Zeit zu reisen, geht's diesmal in geheimer Mission nach Südamerika...!

Sein Name ist Glames, John Glames. Sein Beruf: Top-Agent in Diensten seiner Majestät, des C.I.A. Sein Spezialgebiet: Das Überleben in feindlicher Umgebung. Seine Mission: Den unter ungeklärten Umständen verschwundenen Tarnkappen-Bomber f 117 A zurückbringen und die Entführer gleich dazu!

Da vermutet wird, dass sich der Vogel jetzt im südamerikanischen Santa Paragua befindet, mach sich unser 007-Verschnitt mit dem nächsten Flugzeug auf den Weg dorthin. Aber leider ist kein Geheimagent so geheim, dass nicht auch die lieben Kollegen von seinen Ausflügen Wind bekommen würden. Und da man beim KGB ebenfalls Verwendung für ein so hübsches Militär-Spielzeug hätte, belebt auch hier die Konkurrenz mal wieder das Geschäft. Damit unser Mann in Übersee dabei nicht den Kürzeren zieht, haben ihn seine Auftraggeber mit einem richtig chicen Agentenkoffer ausgerüstet. Darin befinden sich unter anderem so nützliche Kleinigkeiten wie ein säurespritzender Füller, ein sprechender Haarföhn und Zigarettenpapier zum Abnehmen von Fingerabdrücken. Fehlt eigentlich nur das Geheimtelefon im Schuhabsatz...

"Future Wars" gespielt hat, darf die nächsten Zeilen getrost überspringen, allen andern sei nochmals kurz erklärt, was man sich unter "Cinematique" vorzustellen hat. Nun, eigentlich nicht anderes, als ein Grafik-Adventure mit Maussteuerung im Stil der Sierra-Games - nur, dass man hier die Tastatur komplett vergessen kann! Und an die etwas eigenwillige Mausbedienung hat man sich schnell gewöhnt... Zudem wurde das System für Operation Stealth nochmals deutlich verbessert; nicht zuletzt dank entsprechender Anregungen der Fachpresse (hüstel...). So gibt es jetzt eine Art Luppe, die kleine Gegenstände vergrößert darstellt und somit das lästige Absuchen des Screens erleichtert, außerdem muß der Held nicht mehr unmittelbar daneben stehen, wenn er etwas untersuchen will. Und daß Wichtigste: Man kann nunmehr auch Sachen aus dem Inventory auf Gegenstände anwenden, die sich ebenfalls im Inventory befinden - gerade dieses Feature erweitert die Aktionsmöglichkeiten ungemein!

Alles in allem ist Operation Stealth ein erstklassiges Game - Grafik und Animationen sind von Feinsten, die Geräuschkulisse ist realistisch, und zwischendurch röhrt satter 16-Bit Sound aus den Boxen. Die Cinematique-Technik konnte beim Vorganger schon gefallen, jetzt macht die Sache einen wirklich ausgereiften Eindruck. Die Verbesserungen bringen es allerdings mit sich, daß das Spiel nun längst nicht mehr so leicht zu lösen ist wie "Future Wars". Aber was ein wahrer Abenteurer ist, der freut sich über knifflige Herausforderungen - besonders in so ansprechender Verpackung! (wh)


Operation Stealth logo CU Amiga Screen Star

DELPHINE/US GOLD
PRICE: £24.99

When French software house, Delphine, released Future Wars late last year they immediately established themselves as the most exciting overseas software house around. The game's blend of adventuer and graphics was one of the smoothest yet seen and it merited the awards it won.
Operation Stealth is their follow-up, and the only surprise is to find it distributed by US Gold rather than Palace who discovered them. Otherwise the game is all that converts to the first one could expect - an excellent graphic adventure.

The plot for Operation Stealth revolves loosely around the bomber of the same name. Quite how something the size of the Pentagon's flying wing disappears is not explained (perhaps discovery of the flaw is what led to the recent decision to cease production on the plane), but it falls to a CIA Agent to locate its whereabouts. Taking time off from undermining East European governments and propping up Colombian drug rings, you are that government agent.

The credits unfold cinematically, and the scene fixes, as with Future Wars, on a large skyscraper. Inside is your agent, John Glames, and his boss. A quick flick of the mouse button will fill you in on your mission before you are despatched, briefcase in hand, to Santa paragua. As your plane lands at the airport, so your problems begin. Attempting to pass through customs will result in a guard blocking your path and demanding your passport. Whatever you do, do not give him the US one you are carrying, he will simply arrest you.

It is at this early point in the game that you should examine the invenotyr you are carrying and, most importantly, the contents of your briefcase. Nip off somewhere quiet and open it up to reveal an invaluable set of secret agent's gadgets contained within, which includes a shaver containing a tape recorder, an acid squirting pen and a decoder for safes. As you play the game, you will learn that it is necessary to check out every possibility on each screen. Often the smallest objects need checking over to unravel some of the fiendish lateral thinking puzzles in the game. As with Future Wars, every problem can be solved by using an object in some way.

Whilst Operation Stealth continues the style and playing method developed for Future Wars, called Cinematique, Delphine have refined it slightly. In particular there is a greater complexity in the structure of things you can do. You can now use an object in your inventory on other objects twofold. Nor does the protagonist have to be standing next to an object to examine it as before. These touches improve on the playability of the original, but there are still odd irritations, such as the confusing delays which occur at points throughout the game. There are unnecessary pitfalls which lead you into impossible to forsee problems. For example, when you examine the baggage on the conveyor belt at the airport the computer tells you everything is 'your baggage'. It is not - take the wrong bag and you will be arrested for thieving.

This is not to detract from the impressive style of Delphine's second effort. Its scope is huge, its execution accomplished and absorbing. The game moves through several locations from the airport to the town, and even underwater where there is a small arcade-like interlude.

Graphically, it looks as good as its predecessor, if not better. It now enlarges small objects you need to use in comic frames, which look good and make life easier, Operation Stealth is another classy interactive release from Delphine.


Operation Stealth logo Zero Hero

David McCandless and Paul Lakin have always yearned to be spies. After failing to pick up any shapely Russian chicks, they practised a bit of enigmatic eyebrow raising in order to conquer Operation Stealth.

The Stealth Fighter is a new, ultra-modern spy-plane, that is so secret and hush-hush that even its inventor doesn't know what the hell it is. It is invisible to radar and has devastating firepower, a huge range and can even tell you the time in Buenos Aires. But this 650 billion dollar, 1400 ton, secret, locked-up somewhere very secret plane has been 'nicked', abducted, absconded, fled, gone... (We get the message. Ed)

Emergency stations! An APB was put out instantly for a man with a big (415 foot) triangle in his trousers, but that only reeled in a lot of Swedish men called Dan from various video locations around the city. The problem still remains... the Stealth fighter is gone.

You play 'John', innocuous secret agent, assigned by the CIA to track down and retrieve the fighter, or else die horribly in the process. Intelligence suggests that the fighter is located in Santa Paragua, a 'greasy hombre' South American country (the kind of place you might be the capital of on Fifteen-to-One).
You are flown there instantaneously, with only a suitcase and a basic knowledge of the local dialect (i.e. you can say "The Pencil of my grandmother is in the back garden").

As super secret agents go, 'John' is very average. Decked in a dinner suit to suggest Oxbridge descent, knowledgeable on a range of subjects from elephants' gestationperiods to obscure Babylonian demigods and complete with thinly disguised innuendos like, "Can I try my new weapon on you Q?", John fits the bill in every respect.

But your plan is thwarted from the start. Somebody has instigated an official double-secret uncover espionage counterspy subterfuge plan, which, as its name suggests, is there to confuse you and your search for the 'man with the oversized samosa in his pocket'. Your mission is littered with double-agents, faked assassinations and cloak-and-dagger midnight rendezvous.

The game places you in the 'Cinematique' environment, which leads you by the mouse pointer through a series of exotique locations: airport terminals, flower shops, rural parks, hotels, caves, subterranean swimming pools - the usual James Bond locations.

Control is all mouse. The left mouse button brings down an options menu. EXAMINE, USE, OPERATE, TAKE and SPEAK are your choices. Once you've chosen what you want to do, you must select what you want it do it to. This is done by either consulting the INVENTORY or scanning the screen with the cursor. The name of important objects pop up if you brush them while 'vacuuming' the location. Your mouse operations make a sentence (e.g. OPERATE BIG KNIFE ON HELPLESS ANIMAL) which John then enacts.

The mouse also directs the movement of 'John'. You click the pointer where you're heading and he dutifully heads there, cleverly circumnavigating any furniture, dead bodies, sea defences etc. in the way. Also, to ensure you're on the right track, there are certain 'set pieces'. The computer then takes over your speech and movement to handle complicated tasks like getting into a taxi or being cornered by two Russian spies.

The puzzles require a soupcon of logical thinking. For instance, it's not logical to OPERATE THE YOUNG MAN (you can still get arrested for 'operating' young men in some countries), but it is advisable to USE THE PASSPORT ON THE CUSTOMS OFFICIAL and not USE THE SHARP PICKAXE ON THE CUSTOMS OFFICIAL. Simple. Objects are generally linked to other objects in different locations. Using them correctly has a 'knock-on' effect - so solving one task gives you a clue to the next and so on.

Atari ST reviewMacca: The last 'Cinematique' game, Future Wars, had me swinging from chandeliers, appearing in tea commercials, installing a series of dangling tyres from my bedroom roof and generally going 'ape' all over it. And the reaction for this new 'bijou' from the Delphine stable was much the same, perhaps even 'ape-ier'.

The main problem with Future Wars (and even that was slight) was that the objects were too small. You often had to vacuum every square millimeter of the screen, trying to find the pixel that meant there was a key under the carpet or a flush on the toilet. Now in Stealth only the major objects register and the rest just comes under 'scenery'.

Also, the computer was inherited the pessimism of its Future Wars forefather. The key to a good life is experimentation but try and experiment too much with the Stealth environment and you'll receive unimaginative comments like "That's not going to work" and "Why would I want to do that?". So 'OPERATE TOILET PAPER ON JOHN' is received by "What is the point of that?" Maybe the French don't wipe their bums.

The text is generally intelligent and useful, but there are lapses when the oh-so-witty programmers slip some 'jokes' in. This would be okay under normal circumstances, but in this case the programmers are French. When it comes to humour, the French are as funny as the Germans (i.e. not very). So the razor that says it will self-destruct, then counts down and doesn't explode (he-hah) are about as gripping as a bowel movement.

The graphics are not as outstanding as Future Wars. They are very good, colourful and detailed, but on the whole are less sit-up-and-dribble than its predecessor. Future Wars had a problem with everything being very small. Stealth has solved this problem by making everything bigger but has ended up looking more like a Sierra game to me. But they do look great, especially the sandy beach side locations. The sound is no way near as atmospheric as the Amiga's ditties and is frankly pretty annoying, but then, a swift twist of the 'volume control' will solve that problem.

For some reason Operation Stealth is incredibly addictive. I'm not sure why. It could be the vast freedom of movement and the fact you can do anything you want (within reason); it might be the lure of more exotic and intriguing locations; or the wealth of characters and situations - oh, the list is at least a page long. But for me, if I had to pin one down, it's the 'knock-on' object effect. Half an hour spent brainstorming over one clue is rewarded by another which leads to another and so on.
You and everyone around can become completely involved, as the ZERO office will testify. At one point we had several freelance contributors, the staff writer, the publisher, and an Australian man called "Barbera" all grouped around the monitor.

Operation Stealth stands up as easily the most compulsive play since my Mum told me it wasn't exactly a 'sausage' that I always found in the bath.

Amiga reviewDunc: Well beat me round the head with a soggy back issue of Trout Fishing Monthly. There I was thinking that adventures were boring graphic monstrosities with about as much addictiveness as a packet of Junior Asprin and yet the clock's rushing towards midnight and I'm still in the office doing desperate battle with Operation Stealth. Much more of this and I'll have to start growing a beard.

Since it's so late I'd better rattle off my write-up pretty damn quick. Hmm let's see. Ah yes. "Operation Stealth is easily as good as, and probably better than, Future Wars. If you liked that game then you'll love this one and, even if you didn't, then this is well worth a look." There, that was easy. Money for old rope this reviewing lark. (Get on with it Lakin. Ed.)

In any half way decent adventure game there are a good few seemingly insurmountable problems which can tie you down for hours or days or... you get the idea. The measure of a good adventure game is: do you still keep badgering away at the problem, even when it means going back six screens to see if you made a mistake? Or do you chuck the whole dang caboodle in the dumper and reach for a good old-fashioned shoot 'em up to vent your frustration on? With Operation Stealth you keep on keeping on because a combination of great screens and music make the game drip with atmosphere. Wrenching yourself away from a good spy film. Except this time it's you, not Sean Connery, who has to make the smart moves. (Unfortunately it's Sean Connery and not you who gets to wear the smart suits. Check out those flares!)

The Stealth control system is quite an improvement on that of Future Wars. Instead of the pixel precise positioning necessary to examine an object you simply click on it and your character will wander over for a quick shufty. Occasionally if the screen is very cluttered it can be a bit of a pain highlighting exactly the object you're interested in. (No, no, I do not want to talk to the lamppost!). However this is nothing too unbearable and a good deal less hassle than the time when I was caught... but enough of that.

The only time that moving your, seemingly wooden-legged, character becomes seriously hasslesome is when he's near doors, staircases and the like. Since the cursor guided movement isn't completely accurate it only takes a slight twitch and you find yourself back in the room you've just left, which can mean waiting for another screen to load and then waiting to get back to the original screen. This may not sound a massive problem but this game gets you so tensed up you start getting hack off with the most trivial of things.

Once you've sorted out the difference between using an object and operating it, the rst of the control system is straightforward and easy to use. As with Future Wars speech is fairly limited - you can choose when you want to talk and who to, but not what you say. Still this is no great loss, as the game occasionally reminds you you should be concentrating on "A little less talking and a bit more action."

The action in the game ranges from tricky mental problems to sudden and violent action. This may be something of a shock to traditionalists. It's one thing to sit down on a rock and work out how to open a secret door, quite another when someone guns down the man you've spent the last five hours trying to talk to.

As for the difficulty level, well it's all a matter of taste but I thought it was pretty well pitched. Real bafflers to slow you up just when you're getting cocky, nice easy ones every now and then to boost flagging morale. Without giving anything away I would offer one word of warning. Some of the problems change each time you load so don't think "Oh I know the solution I did it yesterday" - you may be on a short cut to a very dark and rather smelly goal.

Delphine have produced another classic adventure that's going to have enthusiasts locked to their computers all through a long hot summer. I'm going to sit back and wait for someone to send in the complete solution - or maybe I'll just have one last go. Stop


TEN REQUIREMENTS FOR A GOOD SPY
1 A curvy 'chick' with a dodgy foreign accent who is planted to doublecross you but will eventually 'turn good' after she has slept with you.
2 A secretary with a vaguely rude name (if said quickly) like Miss Monneypenny or Miss Bigtitty.
3 A secret weapon concealed in the form of an everyday object, i.e. a flame-throwing tea cosy or a laser-firing pimple.
4 A facetious foreign contact, called something like "Punjab" or "Chang".
5 An eyebrow that goes halfway up your forehead when you are surprised.
6 An arch enemy with no head who has a 'thing' for big, white, fluffy cats.
7 Lots of explosives for the last 'scene'.
8 Er... better make it eight requirements.
9 (We get the message. Ed)

Operation Stealth logo Zzap! Sizzler

Delphine/Palace software, Amiga £24.99

Someone's nicked the stealth fighter. However it's not the stealth fighter we all know and love but one that has been secretly reworked and is even more powerful than the original.

You've just returned from a vacation in Lausanne and enter the office of you boss at CIA HQ in Washington DC. He informs you of the theft of the plane during its test flights in Miramar. Moscow probably isn't involved as the plane is rumoured to have landed in Santa Paragua. An agent is already there and has uncovered some most interesting information. You are required to fly out to Santa Paragua to meet with your fellow agent and help him discover the whys and wherefores of the theft of the most deadly fighter plane on Earth.

The game begins with an almost impressive, animated sequence of the theft. 'Almost impressive' as some sections are not as smooth as they might have been and the music (vaguely reminiscent of Psygnosis's Blood Money) is only average.

You, as secret agent John Glames, start the game at Aduana airport armed only with your plane ticket and CIA briefcase. There's the old newspaper vendor, à la Future Wars, with the old coin on the return box in the first screen. Reading the paper gives a hint as to what country your unused passport should sport to prevent the security guard from arresting you for being an American. The unused passport is in the secret compartment of your case but you have to open it in a secluded, if whiffy, place. Pass the security guard and you can pick up a telegram for more clues as to what to do next.

Carry out a few more spy-type actions and you eventually get a message from fellow agent, Martinez, telling you to rendezvous in the park; recognition is to be by means of a red carnation. This meeting in the park is a great little sequence and I suggest you save your game just before it so you can watch it over and over again.

Graphics, Music, FX and animation all wipe the floor with Sierra On-Line's games. And apart from some crap jokes and a few naff French-Anglais translations Delphine definitely beat Sierra at their own game(s). And once you get used to 'Operating' items, such as the ground, to get things done in the game you'll find the system works really well.

You may notice how low sierra score this month, this reflects how they compare to this superior Delphine/Cinematique game. Perhaps this brilliant bit of competition for their 3-D adventures might make them look to their laurels and get them to produce slickier games. Meanwhile, enjoy Operation Stealth, it's great.