It's always difficult to follow an outstanding success and with Woodbury End Shards almost made a noose for its own neck - it really was that good. Hence I have to admit that I am a little disappointed - perhaps expectedly - with Operation Safras.
"Your name is Rupert James Pettigrew. Your occupation, chartered accountant in the City of London. No particular vices or discernible marks. Single, aged 31, avid stamp collector ... in fact, a totally boring individual." Yet, as many readers will be award, Pettigrew is of course a secret agent extraordinaire!
You begin the adventure standing by a disused lift and a quick sortie EAST reveals a fiver. Keep this lucky find as it provides a means of bribing information from a tramp later in the game. Meanwhile, you soon discover a man standing in the shadows, but he's not there to make small talk. Questioning him elicits the response, "You can trust the triplets but beware of the one they call Iron Fist." One word of warning - the clues in this adventures are as cryptic as we have come to expect from Steve Maltz, but are totally logical in retrospect.
The aim of the adventure is to rescue five fellow agents who have been secreted in various corners of Great Britain. Then you must use the information gathered to find the Safras sword. An interesting transport system operates in this adventure, which I hope is expanded upon in future offerings. By pressing T you are presented with a map of this glorious country of ours, and using an unlimited rail ticket you are able to visit such tempting places as Carlisle or even Stockport!
In your travels you pick up various clues and hopefully unravel an intriguing mystery. If you succeed and register your name with Shards you could find that you are immortalised in their next blockbuster adventure.
I must admit that I found the wood in Newport a bit of a puzzle, but as usual X marked the spot. There was also an odd piece of head-banging to overcome in Dundee!
However, it was pleasant to be re-united with old friends like Annie Gramm again, even if I was more than frustrated on occasions.
The adventure claims to be a sequel to Pettigrew's Diary but bears little similarity to that other Shards classic, either in make-up or plot. Don't get me wrong - I enjoyed Operation Safras as a very professional and at times thrilling adventure. Perhaps I'm really waiting for Return To Woodbury End!