The Fourth Protocol (video game)

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This article is about the computer game. For the novel, see The Fourth Protocol. For the 1987 film based on the novel, see The Fourth Protocol (film).
The Fourth Protocol
Developer(s) Electronic Pencil Company Ltd
Publisher(s) Hutchinson Computer Publishing
Designer(s) John Lambshead, Gordon Paterson
Platform(s) ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, PC
Release 1985
Mode(s) Single-player

The Fourth Protocol is an interactive fiction computer game based on Frederick Forsyth's 1984 spy novel The Fourth Protocol. The detective-style gameplay resembles contemporary menu-driven adventures such as The Vera Cruz Affair, and later titles such as Yes, Prime Minister and Floor 13.

The game was released in 1985 by Hutchinson Computer Publishing, a subsidiary of the publishing house Hutchinson. It was designed by John Lambshead and Gordon Paterson, and the programming was by Ben Notarianni, Rupert Bowater and Paul Norris of the Electronic Pencil Company.[1] The game was released for the ZX Spectrum in July 1985, with the Commodore 64 release following one month later, and the Amstrad CPC conversion in 1986. The game was split into three parts, and large sections of the programming was outsourced to others: Andrew Glaister (program conversion Spectrum, parts one and two), Dave Jones (programming Spectrum, part three), Ray Owen (graphics Spectrum, part three) and John Gibbons (programming C64, part three). The IBM PC version was developed for the Electronic Pencil company, by a developer named Brian Mallett. The PC version was written in 8086 assembler and used CGA graphics in 4 colour mode. The PC version was ported from the Z80 and 6502 versions. The PC version did not use DOS but booted up from its own floppy disk.

The game comprises three sections - The NATO Documents, The Bomb and The SAS Assault. In order to get into the last two the player must solve a riddle which is derived in the previous section. Macintosh-like icons were used to assign watchers and navigate and finally text-based interaction was in the third section.

The NATO documents[edit]

The first part of The Fourth Protocol computer game: The NATO Documents

The scene is Preston's office. You take the role as John Preston, the new head of Section C1(A). Somewhere in England, a burglar steals the famous Glen Diamonds, but he also finds some secret NATO documents. He alerts the MoD by sending them the documents anonymously. The Paragon Committee decides that John Preston's most important task is to find out who is leaking secrets, to whom they are being leaked and why. However, you will not be able to devote your time exclusively to this task, since many other events will be unfolding in the intelligence community which will demand your attention. (From the instruction manual.)

The Cencom icon offers access to your personal files where you can store information throughout the first part of the game. The Assessment icon gives you an idea of your progress, it tells you how much of the first stage you have solved and your rating at MI5. Using Surveillance you can assign 'watchers' to targets, these are snoops who provide valuable information, in addition to Memos and Reports, which will be brought to your attention via the Sitreps icon. The Calendar icon lets you know how much time has passed. The Telephone icon allows you to accept calls or call out. It is also possible to save and restore the game at any point.

The bomb[edit]

The second part of The Fourth Protocol computer game: The Bomb

From the clues in the first part you should have an idea about the plot and who could be responsible. This part is similar in gameplay to the first part, however you are now in the field, on the trail of the nuclear device which has been smuggled into the country.

This requires additional icons to control Movement, and a Manipulate icon to Take, Drop and Use objects. You are able to Look around, and Examine objects. The Communicate icon allows you to talk to others, via the phone if needed.

The SAS assault[edit]

The final part of The Fourth Protocol computer game: The SAS Assault

In this part you have discovered the location of the bomb. Using the information you have gathered in the previous two parts, you must work out how to defuse the device. This part of the trilogy requires textual input, and plays differently depending on the version of the game.

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