The Cardinal of the Kremlin is a global management simulation.
It is the time of the Cold War. An American ground reconnaissance satellite discovers a strange structure near the northern border to Afghanistan. It is identified as project "Bright Star" - the Soviet laser ICBM defense system, capable of destroying satellites and airplanes with a beam of energy. At the same time, the USA is busy developing their own SDI project, code name "Tea Clipper". And as the race for the deployment of a space-based laser defense system begins, KGB and CIA agents swarm out to infiltrate the laboratories. Among them: The United States' top spy in Moscow, the Cardinal of the Kremlin.
Based on the popular novel of the same name by US author Tom Clancy, The Cardinal of the Kremlin puts you in the position of US project leader. Your task is to build, test and deploy a network of laser defense satellites before the Russians manage to do so. In this time of crisis, however, all your actions are overshadowed by the threat of espionage and treachery. The scientists that you hire may be geniuses, but are they trustworthy? The more technology tests you schedule, the easier it is for Russian spies to steal your knowledge. If you tighten up security on the other hand, the overprotection will throttle research efficiency. As you race against time and an invisible enemy, the word "paranoia" gains a whole new quality.
Luckily, the counter-intelligence department is at your command, too. CIA agents in Moscow not only supply you with information on the Soviet project's progress, but also on KGB operations in the USA. How accurate the reports are, however, is for you to judge. You must also supply the Afghan warlords Archer with weapons and equipment, as only he can launch a desperate attack on the Bright Star base that will hopefully throw back the Soviet project for months. You conduct battles in a simple top-down action sequence.
This game is based upon a book by Tom Clancy (which I strongly recommend to you). Unfortunately the game itself is neither as good nor as highly recommended. The title is very promising, yet the game is far too simple to really be challenging.
After an impressive title screen the game starts. The graphics are good enough, but there's not much to be said about the sound. It's not a bad game, but it could have been so much more!
The main objective is to develop your satellite system before the Soviets do and at the same time try to prevent them from getting one. This means you'll need to set up a research team and test your technology (but be careful, there's a chance that a leak may appear while testing). You need to guard your secrets and at the same time try to get the secrets of the other side.
For all of this you need to assign people to various duties and monitor their progress. If a spy is in danger you should take him or her off the assignment. Same goes for scientists (if they are exhausted).
Every now and again the Archer will go into action. Now this has got to be the lamest part of the game, because to achieve your objective you'll be a purple dot on a brown background and will have to shoot pink dots on the same background (unless they start chasing you with jeeps, tanks or planes).
The game has no funding, so money is not even mentioned even if in reality it's an important factor in weapon (or counter-weapon) development. All in all this is a simplistic version of what could be a great simulation, that's why it deserves nothing more then a 3.
An ambitious game based on Tom Clancy's famous political thriller, Cardinal of the Kremlin lets you assume responsibilities of all the major characters in the novel: your job is to rescue FBI spy "The Cardinal," neutralize Russia's "Project Bright Star," a space laser program, finish "Tea Clipper," US' own laser project, sign the US - USSR treaty, and build a spy network. All these interesting concepts, however, get bogged down in overly simplistic gameplay where the results of your actions are often unclear. Still, it's worth a look for those interested in The Cold War-- as long as you don't expect a realistic sim of Balance of Power's caliber.
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