Spooks: Spy Academy
This rich media Flash game, designed by the folks at Preloaded, is from the website of the BBC drama Spooks, a weekly spy series in the UK. The well-designed and immersive game features narrative by "Harry", head of the MI5 counter-terrorism department, who provides much of the story behind the game via live captured video segments.
Spy Academy offers a variety of training modules that help you learn the necessary spy skills needed to become an MI5 operative and to move on to the game's more advanced assignments. There is a total of 10 training modules in which Harry will put you through your paces testing skills in various areas: Defuse, Intercept, Identify, Codebreak, Gas, Profiler, Bugging, Sniper, Polygraph, and Range. Participation in these drills will assist MI5 command in ascertaining S.R.L. (speed, reaction, logic) levels in a controlled environment.
Each of the training modules is in the form of a mini-game, most of which will be familiar game concepts. For example, Defuse is a game of Simon that begins with a 3-code sequence that builds to 12 under a time limit of just over a minute and a half. Upon successfully parroting back each incremental code, you must then cut the appropriate wire to defuse the bomb.
A separate module keeps track of your scores, charting the relative progress in each of the training modules and assignments. Site registration is required to save your scores between sessions. There is also a chart averaging all registered player scores for each of the modules.
The overall interface to the game and to each of the modules is consistent, reflects the theme of the game, and is very well done. The featured "gridOS" resembles a standard GUI operating system desktop with movable windows, and icons that open with a double-click. The desktop interface is instantly familiar with icons representing folders and documents that serve to organize the game's various modules. The video introduction and narratives by Harry add a special immersive quality to the game by addressing the player directly and driving the story forward. The module-based training games allows the player freedom to select the games in any order, and to repeat any at will. And text files accompany each video segment for accessibility to deaf and hard-of-hearing gamers.
There are a couple of interface bugs I uncovered whilst playing. Most were minor annoyances like a help window popping up at a very small fraction of the size it should have been. Although resetting the game seemed to fix the problem, if I hadn't been registered I would have lost my scores.
All things considered, I would still highly recommend this game due to the variety of games it offers, as well as its engaging theme and well designed interface. Click.