Originally posted 1.20.2005 on Limes with Orange
I've been getting some hits on my posts about the Spy Academy
over at the BBC Spooks site, so I thought I'd give my comments and tips (along with my high scores) for the various missions:Trace — 99%
I quite enjoy this mission. One tip to help speed things up... if you lock in the symbols on the reels on both sides of a particular reel, that middle reel will automatically lock the correct symbol into place when it comes around again. That way you can focus on other reels.Descramble — 91%
The first part of this mission requires you to clean up the scrambled transmission. This part is fairly easy. First use the slider to alter the amplitude (height). (The manual suggests reducing the height of all of the waves to start with, but I don't find the other waves distracting so have found the time taken to reduce them is just a waste.) Then use the dials to adjust the frequency (width)... just be careful to use small motions with the mouse since you want to stop your adjustments as soon as the wave goes grey.
Next it's time to descramble the message. Since the message will always be the same, your score should improve with each attempt as you become familiar with the order of the words and phrases: "Okay and meet me and collect the package from a hundred and twenty six ***** at 6:30. Then drop it off across town at the agreed location. Don't mess this up. We don't want to attract any unnecessary attention. And make sure you're not followed."
***[Is he saying "Chilton" here? I never managed to figure out this particular part of the message.]
Firewall — 60%
My worst score on the GRID is for this mission and I'm not quite sure how to improve it. My technique: Before each round, I quickly check the Functions. First counting the number of Splitters (good) and Combiners (bad) on each side, then counting the little arrows that represent Breakers (bad), then checking Boosters and Reversers (which look the same, but have opposite effects depending on which side they're on) and the colour of any orphan nodes (that don't connect to either side). Then I pick the side that looks most promising. Once the round starts, I first send charges to convert the nodes that have no access to the other side and the ones with Boosters. Once those are converted, I wait to convert the other nodes until after the computer, as recommended in the manual (trying not to wait so long that I run out of time). I find that an average result for me is three nodes left unconverted. I consider two nodes pretty decent and one node really good. Only once did I manage to convert them all. Anybody have any ideas on how to improve my score?
[Addendum: I managed to increase my score ever so slightly to 63%. This was with leaving only 2 nodes unconverted on the first round, 1 in the second, converting all nodes in the third, then leaving only 2, 1, 3 and 2 nodes in the final four rounds respectively. So that averages to less than 2 nodes left unconverted per round. I think something is very wrong with the scoring system on this mission. Perhaps it's time to email the game designer and ask what the heck they were thinking.]
Car Tail — 80%
Another mission that I'm not very good at. I just happened to luck out with that 80% one time. Not quite sure how I managed that since I usually score closer to 65%, so I'm afraid I don't have a lot of advice here.
[Addendum: I have since improved my score to 99%. The trick is to keep the tail pretty hot and actually get too close a couple of times, making the subject race away. Just make sure that you do it by plan and not accident, so that you have another car ready for the subject to race towards. My mistake before was trying to keep the indicator on or below the middle, when it should average more like 3/4 of the way to the top.]
Lock Pick — 99%
This mission is pretty easy once you get the hang of it. I had problems with the appropriate amount of torque at first, but I settled into a routine of tapping the space bar on every other tap of the arrow keys (after holding it down for the first few taps to build up sufficient torque initially). The first level has four pins, each of which only needs to be tapped in two alternating directions (indicated by the arrows). The second level has five pins, still only two directions. The next level has six pins with three alternating directions. The last level has seven pins and uses all four directions. Practice makes perfect.
Surveillance — 99%
This one is pretty simple. Take note of the suspect shown in the video footage above "last visual contact." Pay particular attention to his hairline, clothing and backpack. Then watch the footage from the other cameras until you spot him. You can fast forward by dragging the scrolling playhead with the mouse, just be careful not to go so fast that you miss him. As soon as you see him, pause the video on a good shot of him (rewind if you need to). Then click the contact button to send the image to the field team.
Patch — 99%
This mission is my favourite. I think it reminds me a bit of Tetris in that you have to rearrange objects spatially... bringing order to chaos, as it were. The first couple of levels are very straightforward. Then you start to get interlocking circuit chains and new circuits being added as you're trying to re-route the original ones. The key at this point is to start with the chains that are already interlocking or running alongside each other. You may have to move several circuit chains to make room to complete one. Just try to figure out the fewest number of moves that will do the job. And don't forget that circuits can be aligned diagonally as well as horizontally. Oh yeah, and if you get ahead of the system and clear all the circuits on the board, don't send the charge (i.e. hit the CTRL key) until it tells you to "send charge"... more circuits may be on their way. And premature charging will fail and fry the system.
Garbology — 92%
I hate this mission. For one thing, it depends too much on what random objects you're given. But mostly, as far as I'm concerned, it requires too much fanciful speculation based on gross generalizations and not enough in the way of actual logical deductions. Basically, the narrower you can make the ranges, the better. (I assume that you can actually refine them too much but since the program doesn't provide that sort of feedback, I tend to ignore that possibility.) In general, unless there's anything to suggest the extreme ends of the spectrum, you can probably knock off things like very bad diet or obese, etc. Some ways that I narrow things down:
Gender: birth control pills, bra... female; wooly hat, work boot... male.
Age: birth control... under 40; wooly hat... under 25 (I know this sounds ridiculous, but it seems to work)
Language: there will usually be a newspaper that indicates this.
Education: pen, study notes, exam papers... increase; tabloid newspaper... decrease
Income: tube ticket, probable student... reduce income; airline tickets... increase income.
Diet: fruit, green tea... good; bacon, fried food, sweets... bad.
Health: medications, smoking... bad; gym membership... good. (And don't forget to factor a good or bad diet into health.)
Smoker: the obvious cigarette package & the less obvious box of matches.
Build: gym membership, good diet... smaller build.
Height: small shoe size... shorter; you can also make some assumptions based on gender here (i.e. chicks are shorter than guys).
Infiltration — 97%
If you're in story mode, once you complete your assignments you can go on an infiltration mission. The first part of the mission is a pretty intense session of patching. I recommend brushing up on your patch assignment before starting. The next section is creating a clean video loop (just watch out for the security guard... you don't want to catch him on tape or start playing your video loop when he's in the middle of your screen). The final section is a bit of lock picking. It's on par with the final level of the lock pick mission, so be prepared.
I'll add the training missions soon. Good luck & have fun!
Labels: hints, online-games, puzzles