Remembering Spycraft: The Great Game

Remembering Spycraft: The Great Game
Image: Activision

Picture this: you’re sitting by the family Christmas tree with your older brother, father and mother. You’ve got a shared sack. You go diving through and you find some video games. And then one of those video games happens to be Spycraft: The Great Game.

Things start out innocently enough: you’re Case Officer Thorn, a rookie CIA operative who starts off by reading a paper breaking the news that the President of the United States is about to sign a treaty in Moscow that will dismantle Russia’s nuclear capabilities, as tenuous as that is.

You’re then brought into the CIA headquarters at Langley where you’re thrown into a shoot-out — of sorts — with four other field operatives to determine your suitability for the mission going forward.

It’s at this point that you’re able to start playing the game. It’s already immediately obvious what kind of game you’re dealing with. Spycraft: The Great Game is an FMV adventure, although it’s more on the same level of a Zork Nemesis than, say, Sewer Shark or the Make My Video series.

I promise, the actual game is nowhere near as exciting as that music makes it out to be. Although the exploding head is pretty damn brilliant and it’s a surprisingly palatable experience, as far as FMV adventures go.

As you’d expect, it’s an elaborate puzzle game that keeps things interesting by throwing situations at the player that are varied enough from the ones previous. You’re tasked with going through some basic image analysis to prove your competence at clicking and counting, before you’re shipped out to a cute on-rails segment that’s a little reminiscent of the early 1990’s.

While I wouldn’t praise the “actual CIA footage” or “Hollywood actors”, I remember playing through the entire gaming thinking, “Wow, this isn’t as genuinely awful as I was expecting.”

And there hasn’t really been a game like it ever since. There have been plenty of stealth and spy epics — Metal Gear Solid 5 is a unique beast, but there’s also CounterSpy, Invisible, Inc., Alpha Protocol and Neon Struct lately — but nothing that hit the same kind of cheesy beats that Spycraft did.

It’s available on Good Old Games and Steam, provided you don’t mind point-and-click adventures.

Anyone else jump on Spycraft back in the day — and what are your favourite FMV games of all time?


  • I completely forgot this game existed. I played this a fair bit when I was younger. It was pretty bad.

    Best FMV game I got to play has to be the X Files game from 1998.

  • Then I suggest you try “The Daedalus Encounter”
    Exactly the same but with Tia Carrere in her prime.

  • I have ‘Ripper’ and ‘Black Dahlia’ both were pretty good detective games with puzzles and decent enough acting.

  • Ha! Oh wow I loved both those games, thanks for the flashback!!

    I still have Spycraft in it’s box at my folks place… I think… used to love them all.

    Gabriel Knight 2 was the best of the bunch in my rose tinted\addled mind.

  • Game was fantastic! I remember all the cool spy stuff you could do like photo analysis to reveal number plates, analyze background noise on a telephone call to pinpoint the origin of the call… (i remember bells?), and even solving the JFK assasination

  • LOVED this game back in the day.. My friends and I played it non-stop at my place for about 5 hours one day, then they came back and we finished it the following day.. This is before walkthrus online actually existed as they do today, so it was trial and error all the way..

    I have memories also of different resolution modes (e.g. interlaced video, etc) and me thinking this looked JUST LIKE TV!

    I think I still have a copy of this sitting at my parent’s place, but like many things from the 90s, best to leave the rose tinted glasses on and never revisit it..

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