Every spy show or movie has some very core elements that define it for what it is, from code breaking through to the inevitable showdown between hero and villain. So too, do games. With so many crossovers and adaptations, it’s not surprising to see the lines blur.
Take Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan for instance — because although there’s a fully fledged universe of Tom Clancy video games, there’s only one game that features the iconic character and it’s over 30 years old.
We watched the Amazon Prime Video show to see which elements we would love to play as a video game — and exactly how we’d see them come together. Now that Jack is heading off as a bonafide field agent in Season Two, we’re 100% sure that there’s gotta be something juicy we could take on as a video game.
The cornerstone of any good spy movie or TV show is the inclusion of a shadowy figure skulking around a bustling city, snapping hidden photos of suspected bad guys. Put it this way: you can’t just leap into the action without knowing you’re after the right perp.
You need to scope out their activities, follow them around to ensure you’re catching them in the act with cold, hard evidence. In Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, this happens in spades. From low-key surveillance in Yemen back in Season One, all the way through to tracking a shipment of illegal arms in Venezuela in Season Two, there’s a lot of evidence to be collected — and we’re on the hunt.
If it were a game:
This would be fun as hell to play in the style of Pokémon Snap. For those of you who are unfamiliar, Pokémon Snap is a first-person rail shooter game you play as Todd Snap, a budding photographer commissioned by Professor Oak to take sneaky snapshots of all the Pokémon as you traverse the world on a rail line. Over time you level up your equipment to snap Pokémon in greater clarity and poses, and you score bonuses if you get a great shot.
Now imagine playing this as a CIA operative. You’d follow a designated rail line along the underside of a city, hunting for illicit deals and meetings that you can snap and send back to command. Over time, you could get longer range lenses, and the clearer your image, the more likely you are to send those bad guys directly to prison. Nice.
Smuggling things in bodies
I recognise this sub-heading is not your normal spy fare, but back in Jack Ryan Season One, there’s definitely at least one occasion where the bad guys cut up human bodies in order to smuggle guns into restricted areas. It’s gruesome and bloody, and at one point a guy even wears someone else’s face to smuggle himself in. So naturally, it got me thinking about how this could play out video game style. As for Season Two? There’s definitely illegal shipments in the works, so it’s all a question of where they’re shoved in order to get through security.
If it were a game:
If smuggling stuff was ever a game, you’d do it in Surgeon Simulator. I’m already grossed out at the thought, but if you think about it, it’s essentially just an extreme continuation of the board game Operation. If you’ve never had the bloody glory of playing Surgeon Simulator, rest assured that it does what it says on the tin.
You play as Nigel Burke, a surgeon-in-training whose hands are entirely controlled by the click and turn of your mouse. Over the course of the game the surgeries get more and more difficult, with one level sending you up into space to work on your patient in zero-gravity. Now, I’m no surgeon, but I feel like retrieving smuggled weapons from a body is just as absurd as trying to prevent tools and organs from floating off into space. I’m sold.
It wouldn’t be a spy show without a spot of codebreaking. In the first season of Jack Ryan, it’s as simple as cracking someone’s phone password to uncover their illegal activities — and while in the show they make it as easy as finding a number of personal significance to the perp, it’s not always that simple.
If it were a game:
There are so many incredible puzzle games that it’s genuinely hard to choose how I’d best like to play through this element. Ultimately though, I’ve settled on the maze-like game, The Witness. With each grid offering up no explanation on how to solve it, I believe that it’s the best representation of trying to figure out access to a perp’s phone.
The game was generally very well received, though some punters believed the lack of discernible instruction made it easy for players to get bored and detach — but I think this just adds to the comparison to real life codebreaking. It’s not all glamorous, you’ve got to stick to it and use logic to solve the puzzle and save the day.
Action movies and TV shows, by default, require a show of physical skill that can only be demonstrated with a one-on-one battle of fisticuffs. It’s practically law. I cannot name a single action film or show that hasn’t had at least one punch thrown in for good measure. In the new season of Jack Ryan, he’s left the desk and is now out in the field against the bad guys directly. And if you think for one second that he won’t be doing hand-to-hand combat, you’re dead wrong.
If it were a game:
One-on-one physical combat battles? My answer was always going to be Tekken. Pitting Jack Ryan up against all your regular characters would be iconic, and frankly I’d like to see if he can hold his own. Besides, as someone who grew up button-mashing this game to no end, I’d welcome another reason to go back to the original.
Ultimately, there’s fun to be had for the whole family. You can take turns playing as Jack, and know that it’ll be great for parties. I can see it now.