You're almost positive that waking up in a dark, dingy cell in some nondescript foreign country is not part of your daily routine. Unfortunately, that's the only thing you're sure of. It seems your memory has decided to take a vacation elsewhere, leaving you to piece together your identity and the reason why you're here.
As you engineer your escape, the shards of your shattered past begin to reassemble. You are Mason Powers, once a trusted member of the Central Intelligence Agency. The last thing you recall is the murder of your friend, Frank McBain, by a mysterious hooded figure. Somehow that murder has been pinned on you.
Countdown follows your attempts to escape and uncover the reason behind McBain's murder. You pursue your investigation by contacting various people. Some of these folks may be immediately helpful, while others may have to be coerced. The conversation interface in Countdown allows you to take different approaches (or even combinations of approaches) when questioning each contact.
Even after you begin learning the truth about your identity and McBain's murder, you quickly find yourself thrust into a plot involving international terrorists — and you have only a few days to stop them.
Along the way, you'll have opportunities to acquire various items. As in most adventure games, it's wise to take anything that's not nailed down. (In Countdown, actually, there are a few nailed-down things you'll need, too.) Many of these items are interrelated and must be acquired in a certain order. Once you've retrieved the Computer Access Device from your apartment, you can research and analyze many of the items you find. You can also book travel reservations to any place your contacts may pointyou. (One word of advice, however: Always fly instead of using the train. You're working against a time limit, remember.)
Countdown is a direct descendant of Access Software's earlier Mean Streets, with much the same look and feel. Most of the graphics are digitized images of real actors, actresses, and locales. And thanks to the patented RealSound audio, those who don't have a sound board can enjoy something other than the usual PC beeps and squawks.
Altogether, Countdown is another worthy addition to the role-playing realm.