Sid Meier's Covert Action - A Techno-Thriller From the Case Files of Max Remington.
User reviews:
Overall:
Positive (43 reviews) - 83% of the 43 user reviews for this game are positive.
Release Date: Jan 1, 1990

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Includes 3 items: Sid Meier's Colonization (Classic), Sid Meier's Covert Action (Classic), Sid Meier's Pirates! Gold Plus (Classic)

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Reviews

“Complexity of gameplay has become synonymous with the Microprose name, something that Covert Action has bountiful supplies of. The choice of options provide a depth of play rarely seen. A choice of four skill levels, three mission areas (Middle East, Europe of the Americas), three basic crime-orientations (espionage, international crime or terrorism) and over a dozen of enemy operatives (at least half a dozen of which will be involved with each crime), Covert Action is a game that will take many hours of play to successfully complete.”
90 – ACE (Advanced Computer Entertainment)

“Apart from a fairly simplistic look, practically everything is up to the high-class standards expected from MicroProse, and it's only after really spending some time with it that you can come to appreciate the work involved.”
88 – The One

About This Game

Sid Meier's Covert Action - A Techno-Thriller From the Case Files of Max Remington.

In the 1990's our national nightmares are haunted by wild-eyed political extremists, greedy and ruthless drug lords, and lunatic military dictators. For too long we have felt powerless to stop them.
But now, award-winning game designer Sid Meier takes us around the globe with super-spy Max Remington to challenge these threats and neutralize their shadowy schemes of terrorism, smuggling and extortion. A seasoned veteran of modern, hi-tech undercover operations, Remington always obeys the two main rules of Covert Action: 1. Use your intelligence. 2. If Rule one fails, use your other weapons.

Game Features:

  • Intelligence: Recognize Faces, Break Codes, Unravel plots and sub-plots to determine how sub-plots fit together in the larger scheme, Decide which leads to follow, which to ignore
  • Weapons: Guns, Fragmentation grenades, Stun grenades, Remote-control bombs, Tear gas
  • World travel: 3 Continents, 50 cities
  • Variety: Work for CIA, Mossad(Israeli), MI5 (British), Unlimited number of cases to solve
  • Realism:Crucial decisions international agents face every day, cases based on today's headlines.

System Requirements

Windows
Mac OS X
SteamOS + Linux
    Minimum:
    • OS: Windows XP / Vista / 7
    • Processor: 1.0 GHz Processor
    • Memory: 512 MB RAM
    • Graphics: 100% DirectX compatible graphics
    • Storage: 100 MB available space
    • Sound Card: 100% DirectX compatible card or onboard sound
    Recommended:
    • OS: Windows 7
    • Processor: 1.5 GHz Processor
    • Memory: 1 GB RAM
    • Graphics: 100% DirectX compatible graphics
    • Storage: 100 MB available space
    • Sound Card: 100% DirectX compatible card or onboard sound
    Minimum:
    • OS: OS X Leopard 10.7
    • Processor: 1.0 GHz Processor
    • Memory: 512 MB RAM
    • Graphics: 3D graphics card or onboard graphics compatible with OpenGL
    • Storage: 100 MB available space
    • Sound Card: 100% CoreAudio compatible card or onboard sound
    Recommended:
    • OS: OS X Leopard 10.7 or newer
    • Processor: 1.5 GHz Processor
    • Memory: 1 GB RAM
    • Graphics: 3D graphics card or onboard graphics compatible with OpenGL
    • Storage: 100 MB available space
    • Sound Card: 100% CoreAudio compatible card or onboard sound
    Minimum:
    • OS: Ubuntu 14.04 LTS
    • Processor: 1.0 GHz Processor
    • Memory: 512 MB RAM
    • Graphics: 100% OpenGL accelerated card or onboard graphics
    • Storage: 100 MB available space
    • Sound Card: Any ALSA supported card on onboard audio
    Recommended:
    • OS: Ubuntu 14.04 LTS
    • Processor: 1.5 GHz Processor
    • Memory: 1 GB RAM
    • Graphics: 100% OpenGL accelerated card or onboard graphics
    • Storage: 100 MB available space
    • Sound Card: Any ALSA supported card on onboard audio
Customer reviews
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Overall:
Positive (43 reviews)
Recently Posted
issssk
( 35.3 hrs on record )
Posted: April 24
It's an old game, of course...no mouse support, no tooltips, you need to remember a lot of buttons...but its still a lot of fun. However, be aware that, expecially on higher levels, you are always operating on a very strict time limit.If you just waste a little time on observing the wrong groups, your target group will be gone. It's a shame that the game forces you to be so straight-forward.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
luke_cornelius
( 51.7 hrs on record )
Posted: April 17
I found this while looking for other Sid Meier games and bought it for only .97! Covert Action is a great game from way back (I still have the original 3.5 in disk.) Can't believe I am still playing it 25 years later. If you feel a need to kill terrorists, this game will do it in a low-intensity way.

If you are looking for state of the art, forget it. This is very retro and very simple, yet addictive. Big pixels, keyboard controls, and music from the dawn of audio cards. But the game is still loads of fun, in a midless, relaxing way. You chase spies, unravel conspiracies, break codes, and, if you want, plant bugs, tap phones, and track cars (the latter are not totally necessary to win.) Mostly you break into safe houses and crack safes, shoot the guards, and hack the computers.

The Steam version actually seems patched/improved in some ways. There are more passwords for computer access. The guards are not quite as stupid, and some old cheese (like tossing a stun grenade into a room of 'dead' guards to bring them back and loot their stuff) is missing. Not that the graphics are sharp (256 color VGA anyone?), but they seem a little better. Also the conrtrols are stiffer, adding to the challenge. My scores have actually gone down since playing my freeware version just a month ago!

Bottom-line: Covert Action is a throw-back, like vintage toys, to a time when you needed an imagination to pretend you are James Bond or some other super-spy. But each new crime shuffles the deck so that no two games ever seem the same. You can fly off to exotic pixels and prevent all the crimes you wish you could in real life. It makes a nice change from the news! And for ninety-seven cents, what are you risking anyway???
Helpful? Yes No Funny
The Bear of Bad News
( 19.6 hrs on record )
Posted: April 3
10/10. One of Sid's early classics. I really miss the maximum replayability of 90's video games. For its time, I can't think of a single thing that would make this game better, even after 20 years of playing it (and STILL not being brave enough to go past the bottom difficulty level! XD)

If you want to talk about games using random generators for each session of playing, that's this. EVERYTHING is perfectly randomized EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. I love it. Maximizes the playability. :D

But no one knows the feeling of your heart sinking when you find a floor safe, photograph it, and it has only grenades, a floor plan, or (worst of all) NOTHING!!! Come on, man! I wanna turn this dude into a double agent! :'(

So yeah. 90s ingenuity and maximum replayability are huge factors in this game. Shoot, I'm still playing it 20 years later!

How many modern games do you think will be playable again and again in 20 years? What titles?
Helpful? Yes No Funny
mordmorgan
( 6.9 hrs on record )
Posted: January 13
So much classic game fun, but don't expect to last past 6 hours.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
katerberg
( 10.3 hrs on record )
Posted: November 26, 2015
Incredible game, but nearly unplayable without a num pad on your computer. They need to remap keys somehow.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
HeartoftheTiger
( 109.9 hrs on record )
Posted: August 25, 2015
Before Splinter Cell, before “Metal Gear”, there was a game that felt like a true stealth/spy game: “Covert Action”. I bought this game when it first came out and it took up many weekends before my PC was upgraded from Dos to Windows.
You’re a secret agent who is tasked with uncovering and averting plots. You’ll travel to a lot of places, do wiretaps, break in and gather evidence, follow suspects and do some crypto. Arrest or “turn” hostile cell members until you finally capture their Mastermind.
There might even be a double-agent and false leads to filter through. And if the faction you’re targeting is not in your city’s listing, then break or wiretap their allies and get the location that way. This is one of those games where you have to actually think and remember. Keep a legal pan and pen on hand; you might need to jolt down a name or faction to look up in their computers to get a location.
Then rinse and repeat. Some might think it’s boring and one-note, but I never felt bored by it. There is enough variation that kept me from that.
This is one of those games that needs to be revisited and revised. The clock is constantly ticking and each false lead is time taken away as the plot is coming together.

The cryptography minigame is a real gem and was what got me interested in ciphers. Ever since, it pains me that such a minigame is never repeated in future “spy/stealth” games since.

Another game in the genre, overlooked and obscure, is “Floor 13”.

For a Dos game that was about ten megs, I have to wonder why the install files are nearing 200 megs. Weird. Of course, there is no remapping of keys. No mouse support (but still joystick, again, weird).
Helpful? Yes No Funny
☦ Exiled From The Tennis Court
( 2.6 hrs on record )
Posted: June 8, 2015
I get to destroy Mossad so i'm happy.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Kaijudo
( 10.6 hrs on record )
Posted: May 27, 2015
This game is a classic for me. If you've always wanted to live the life of Spy this is the game for you. It's a must buy for any Spy fan out there.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Ichinin
( 3.4 hrs on record )
Posted: April 29, 2015
Best collection of minigames ever :) Loved it on the Amiga, and love it here too.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Kipper
( 9.2 hrs on record )
Posted: April 5, 2015
What can I say about Covert Action? Crap graphics, crap sound, no mouse support, very slow reactions to the controls, and despite all that - completely playable.

This is one of those rare games that you will enjoy if you can get past the superficial and enjoy the gameplay; there has been no other game like it and that's why it's still enjoyable today.

The basic premise is investigation - no handholding here - you're given the basic details of a plot at the start of a mission, and depending on the difficultly level, you'll get some starter info - maybe a name or two, or a face and perhaps an intercepted communication.

It's then up to you to expand on the information, putting names and faces together, identifying groups involved, who is doing what, with who, where, and when. You do this by wiretapping and/or breaking into buildings, and following suspects to see if they lead you to anywhere/anyone else.

Once you've got the evidence you need; it's time to strike - don't take too long otherwise the plot will come together and end up being completed! Break into the buildings containing the suspects and either arrest or, if you're lucky, turn them into a double agent. Arrest them at the wrong time and other plotters will get spooked and hide because they can't complete their mission, and you lose the chance to get them. Turn them and they will carry on with the plot but send a copy of every communication sent to and received from their co-consipirators back to you so you can see how things are unfolding.

Stopping the plot is the most basic of wins; the more participants you can arrest or turn, the more points you get, capture the elusive masterminds (who don't actually actively participate in the plot so you don't get the luxury of intercepted communications) and get even more points; and there's even a 'Mr Big' apparently behind the scenes that's even more difficult to find.

This game is utterly immersive - even in 2015.

If someone simply remade this as-is but with updated sound and visuals, it would probably do well.... If someone had a good look and tweaked the gameplay a little and added some modding support, i'm convinced it would be a hit.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Most Helpful Reviews  Overall
80 of 90 people (89%) found this review helpful
44 people found this review funny
Recommended
9.9 hrs on record
Posted: March 23, 2015
A 25 year old game that's still a better cop game than battlefield hardline
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
84 of 96 people (88%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Recommended
1.8 hrs on record
Posted: October 9, 2014
Really, this is THE game to get from the classic pack. You've never played anything quite like this except for Pirates. Take Pirates's combination of minigames into a piracy sim and instead of swashbuckling swordfights and sea battles you have sneaking through enemy offices, placing wiretaps, decrypting memos, and trying to stay one step ahead of a terrorist plot that unfurls in game time.

It's a little unwieldy, the sinister plots are reused constantly and the "true end game" of capturing all the masterminds is a pipe dream of a LOT of repetition. Dr. Pasture will be kidnapped at least six hundred times before you can reach that goal, but the core mechanics are good fun.

It plays in DosBox and plays perfectly in this day and age. Just read the manual as the stealth controls are a bit unwieldy. Numpad to move, crouching's importance, what to take along and why, and disguises and how you use/lose them are all explained there in a way that would be tough to figure out just from playing it.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
47 of 50 people (94%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Recommended
0.4 hrs on record
Posted: October 9, 2014
One of my favourite classic games ever, it's great to see Covert Action available on Steam.

The Infiltration Mini-game is like hotline Miami except instead of caving thugs heads in you sneak around and search through all the cupboards.

I love the driving sections although the cars could use more camber and the Cryptography section is just like the Code words puzzles in the Sunday papers so I always feel like a professor when i complete one.

Just make sure you have a pen and paper to hand if you're thinking of catching a mastermind on anything above national threat difficulty

I also love the splashscreen recommending other microprose games when you close the game. When is knights of the Sky comming to Steam?
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
38 of 42 people (90%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Recommended
47.2 hrs on record
Posted: October 9, 2014
This is one of the best games I've ever played.

This game is from the era of Microprose games that expertly combined mini-games using a cohesive big picture to give them context and motivation. Its siblings are Sword of the Samurai and Pirates! (the modern remake of which is available on Steam as well, at http://store.steampowered.com/app/3920/, and also highly recommended).

You play as freelance spy Max Remmington, contracted to the CIA, and your job is to foil terrorist attacks before they can occur. You do this by gathering evidence against the members of the conspiracy through wiretapping, stakeouts, infiltrating and searching their hideouts, or simply following them in your car. Once you have the evidence you need, you pounce on them and bring them in. The trick is to let the conspiracy progress far enough that you can implicate everyone involved without spooking them and sending them to ground, while still preventing the attack from actually happening.

How you approach the case is totally up to you. You could wiretap the local cartel hideout in the hopes of catching some encrypted message, then take it back to the CIA office to crack the code. Or you can infiltrate the hideout yourself, plant bugs, photograph documents (with your super spy camera) and slip out before the guards notice you. When it's time to haul in the bad guys, you could go in with guns and grenades, or you could go with a high-speed car chase.

Each conspiracy you thwart gets you one step closer to identifying and capturing the leader of one of the terrorist factions involved. The overall, eventual goal of the game is to wipe out every one of these organisations by arresting and convicting each leader.

This game is dated in its interface and graphics, but otherwise stands up remarkably well. When I say this is one of the best games ever, I do so with no nostalgia goggles on - I first played it 15 to 20 years AFTER its release in 1990, as abandonware. I've bought it now for the first time.

The one flaw in the game that jumps out is that the number of different encrypted message texts are rather limited considering how many cases you need to play if you want to capture every single terrorist leader. After a while you recognise the texts fairly quickly, which makes cryptography quite easy. Still, you'll be tens if not hundreds of hours into the game by the time you reach this point.

Note also that you will need to read the PDF manual, as this game predates in-game tutorials. It's well worth it, however.

edit: I see Steam doesn't actually include the manual yet, which is inexplicable to me. It's worth tracking down. At the very least, you will need the controls, which I've found at http://www.allgame.com/game.php?id=20219&tab=controls

edit again: it turns out pdf copies of the manual and technical supplement (which is where the controls are) are actually included in the Steam\steamapps\common\Sid Meier's Covert Action. That said, my technical supplement is apparently "Handbuch.pdf" and is entirely in German. Not as helpful as if it were in English, but it's a start! ;)

Overall: highly, highly recommended.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
30 of 32 people (94%) found this review helpful
Recommended
9.2 hrs on record
Posted: April 5, 2015
What can I say about Covert Action? Crap graphics, crap sound, no mouse support, very slow reactions to the controls, and despite all that - completely playable.

This is one of those rare games that you will enjoy if you can get past the superficial and enjoy the gameplay; there has been no other game like it and that's why it's still enjoyable today.

The basic premise is investigation - no handholding here - you're given the basic details of a plot at the start of a mission, and depending on the difficultly level, you'll get some starter info - maybe a name or two, or a face and perhaps an intercepted communication.

It's then up to you to expand on the information, putting names and faces together, identifying groups involved, who is doing what, with who, where, and when. You do this by wiretapping and/or breaking into buildings, and following suspects to see if they lead you to anywhere/anyone else.

Once you've got the evidence you need; it's time to strike - don't take too long otherwise the plot will come together and end up being completed! Break into the buildings containing the suspects and either arrest or, if you're lucky, turn them into a double agent. Arrest them at the wrong time and other plotters will get spooked and hide because they can't complete their mission, and you lose the chance to get them. Turn them and they will carry on with the plot but send a copy of every communication sent to and received from their co-consipirators back to you so you can see how things are unfolding.

Stopping the plot is the most basic of wins; the more participants you can arrest or turn, the more points you get, capture the elusive masterminds (who don't actually actively participate in the plot so you don't get the luxury of intercepted communications) and get even more points; and there's even a 'Mr Big' apparently behind the scenes that's even more difficult to find.

This game is utterly immersive - even in 2015.

If someone simply remade this as-is but with updated sound and visuals, it would probably do well.... If someone had a good look and tweaked the gameplay a little and added some modding support, i'm convinced it would be a hit.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
20 of 23 people (87%) found this review helpful
Recommended
12.2 hrs on record
Posted: October 10, 2014
This game demands a keyboard numpad. With a ton of practice you can manage to play it on a laptop but that's really tough. That caveat aside, this game was a huge part of my childhood and honestly, it holds up amazingly well to the test of time.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
16 of 16 people (100%) found this review helpful
Recommended
7.5 hrs on record
Posted: January 24, 2015
why hasn't this game gotten a reboot yet?

all encompassing espionage puzzle/stealth-action game with terrible graphics.

did i mention it's cheap?

9/10
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
13 of 13 people (100%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Recommended
19.6 hrs on record
Posted: April 3
10/10. One of Sid's early classics. I really miss the maximum replayability of 90's video games. For its time, I can't think of a single thing that would make this game better, even after 20 years of playing it (and STILL not being brave enough to go past the bottom difficulty level! XD)

If you want to talk about games using random generators for each session of playing, that's this. EVERYTHING is perfectly randomized EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. I love it. Maximizes the playability. :D

But no one knows the feeling of your heart sinking when you find a floor safe, photograph it, and it has only grenades, a floor plan, or (worst of all) NOTHING!!! Come on, man! I wanna turn this dude into a double agent! :'(

So yeah. 90s ingenuity and maximum replayability are huge factors in this game. Shoot, I'm still playing it 20 years later!

How many modern games do you think will be playable again and again in 20 years? What titles?
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
14 of 15 people (93%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Recommended
36.9 hrs on record
Posted: October 11, 2014
One of the greatest game I played as a child. Controls are a bit wonky, but it's worth trying it out. You create your character simply from Male or Female, then from 4 skill sets; Combat, Crypto, Driving, and Electronics which all have a rating to them. Then you in a free roam world to a degree, you hang out at the office, review the case files, place a wire tap, break into a suspect's building (stealth or loud), tail a suspects car to a new location, travel to exotic locations. It's a great game that shouldn't be missed! Matter of fact I still own the original and couldn't figure out out how to get 3.5 floppies to run. Here it is ready to go! Thanks!
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
10 of 10 people (100%) found this review helpful
Recommended
0.9 hrs on record
Posted: February 13, 2015
This is probably in my 5 all time most favorite games list. It is the proper way to make a game made up of many integrated mini-games that come together in one big beautiful package. This and Sword of the Samurai are two of my favs that I'm really happy found their way onto Steam. The controls are a bit tricky to get the hang of at first in this game but once you've got the hang of everything you'll fall in love with this game. My best recommendation for this game is to play at the harder difficulties once you familiarize yourself with the game because it unlocks so many more encounters in-game and really adds to the action. The only drawback I'd say from this game is that the "Driving" minigame is probably the most lackluster portion of the game but it's just one of several options at your disposal to locate the criminals and you can avoid it altogether if you wish and just go the cryptology/wiretapping/breaking-n-entering route.
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