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Traditional puzzles are decidedly not the emphasis here. Instead, taking actions and using items in the right sequence and with the right timing is more crucial than standalone deductive brainteasers. All the challenges are directly tied to the story, and they never seem to be too unfair or obscure. To aid in your sleuthing, you gain access to the latest in spy equipment, including advanced computers, electromagnetic pulse mines and motion detectors. While figuring out how to overcome guards is a riddle you have to solve over and over again to make progress, this challenge is not perfectly implemented: killing one guard often does not result in the sounding of a general alarm to alert those beyond nearby rooms to your presence, and even technicians do not generally alert anyone after you finish conversing with them. Moreover, the enigmas you face from level to level end up being awfully similar to one another.
As with any spy thriller, high-tech gadgetry is important here, but In Cold Blood proves to be remarkably restrained in this regard. All you get is a crude handgun, medical supplies and a wrist computer. The latter is your primary communications and data storage device, but you are never sure when its abilities will be essential to use: it contains a motion scanner which detects people, robots, recharge points, and doors; an infrared link which can connect to a computer; and a database containing information on mission objectives and information Cord has collected. Your handgun and hand-to-hand martial arts are useful in overcoming enemies through combat, but most often more subtle alternatives are more effective due to frequently overwhelming odds. The game auto-aims the gun for you, as no cross-hairs are available, but sometimes it is not clear during combat where your shots will land. In the end, neither the selection of offensive weapons nor the use of them proves to be particularly impressive in this release.
Stealth is absolutely critical to your success. Often you have to follow someone, spy on conversations, creep up on an unsuspecting foe, hide (often behind crates) and then attack someone from behind, avoid guards and patrolling robots, or wait until someone is distracted or walking the other way. It is also common for you to have to use someone’s computer to find vital information. In any case, moving quickly and quietly is often the rule of thumb, making the gameplay quite unlike the “blow-them-all-to-smithereens” frontal assault within many action titles. You have to be constantly cautious and vigilant because one mistake could kill you in the blink of an eye. While the stealth component here is not nearly as polished as that in Looking Glass’ Thief, it nonetheless makes a positive contribution to the clandestine atmosphere of the gameplay.
One clear distinction from most computer adventures is the frequent presence of time pressure: there is usually no time for the leisurely exploration of surroundings adventure fans have grown accustomed to. In addition, In Cold Blood is quite fast-paced, and that combined with the frequent cutscenes reinforces its similarity to espionage movies rather than more plodding spy novels.
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