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Winback: Covert Operations (known as Operation: Winback in Australia and Europe) is a cover-based Third-Person Shooter initially released for the Nintendo 64 in 1999, with an Updated Re-release coming out for the PlayStation 2 in 2001 and a sequel, Project Poseidon, following for the PS2 and Xbox in 2006. It could be considered as an N64 analogue to Metal Gear Solid, and despite its obscurity it is effectively the Trope Codifier for many modern third-person shooter mechanics, particularly its cover system (which influenced that of KillSwitch, which in turn was cited as an inspiration for the much more famous and widely-copied one in Gears of War) and the use of Laser Sights for aiming (which was later popularized by Resident Evil 4). Its story concerns the hijacking of a Kill Sat called the GULF System by a terrorist group calling themselves the "Crying Lions", demanding the US government leave their nation of Sarcozia alone; the player takes the role of Jean-Luc Cougar, a member of the Special Covert Action Team, as they move in to take back the complex housing the GULF System's controls before the terrorists can fire the weapon again.



  • Ax-Crazy: Many of the Crying Lions boss characters count, especially Lila, Banderas, and Jin.
  • Absolute Cleavage: Lila's outfit has a pretty low neckline in addition to a bare midriff
  • Action Girl: Of the three women who actually show up in the game, two of the three qualify - Lila, the first boss member of the Crying Lions Jean-Luc fights against, who totes an M60 machine gun and, though relatively easy to take care of as she's the first boss, can quickly lay on the hurt if you aren't careful; and Lisa, who ends up being one of the only surviving members of the team in the good ending and jokes at one point that it'll take more than "a crashing chopper and trigger-happy terrorists" to kill her. Averted with the third woman in the game, as she is only in the intro sequence as an assistant to the Secretary of Defence.
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  • Always Save the Girl: Lisa is saved by Jean-Luc in the good ending, along with Keith. In the bad ending, she ends up being Stuffed into the Fridge.
  • Bare Your Midriff: Lila, the only female member of the Crying Lions, wears an outfit with this, starting from just below her chest, showing the rest of her torso, and if you look closely, you can see a naval piercing. (In the PS2 version anyway.)
  • Bad "Bad Acting": The PS2 version is well-known for its not-so-great English voice acting. (Despite this, it was well-received. Considered to be a lot better than the N64 version.)
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: Kenneth Coleman, the terrorist leader, commits suicide in the bad ending path after firing the satellite a third time, knowing he will be taken into custody by Jean-Luc and sentenced to either life in prison or execution for his actions.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The good ending - SCAT have destroyed the satellite before it could be fired again and killed most, if not all of the terrorists. However, only Jean-Luc, Lisa, and Keith survive the mission; the rest of the SCAT team is dead.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Matthew, the only black man of the team - and the entire game, for that matter - is the first teammate to die.
  • Bloodless Carnage: For the most part. Tom writes the security code for the elevator in his blood on the floor, but beyond that the closest the game ever has to any sort of blood is Jean-Luc claiming to see a pool of it near Law when the latter says he's "just resting".
  • Boom, Headshot!: Headshots, as expected from a post-GoldenEye shooter, deal increased damage. Bosses just take a little more damage from them, though other enemies are all generally instantly killed by them. Some of the members of SCAT are also shown to be taken out this way in cutscenes. Unusually, it seems that even in normal gameplay Jean-Luc is subject to headshots, but enemies don't go out of their way to aim for them and, like with bosses, are not instantly killed by them.
  • Boss Battle: Several of them, the number of them depends on which ending you get.
  • Boss-Only Level: Some of the levels have you fighting boss characters and are shorter than others.
  • Bodyguard Betrayal: Towards the end of the good ending path, Cecile will betray Kenneth and murder him, then take over to demand a hundred million dollars from the US government.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Only applies to your starting handgun, and even then you still have to reload it. Other than that, the game is actually rather stingy on carried ammo - on the hardest difficulty, you can only carry one full magazine for the submachine gun and shotgun (two if you find the ammo pouch at the start), while the silenced pistol and four-barreled rocket launcher don't get reloads and you have to find new ones entirely. On the easiest difficulty at least, you can carry up to 8 magazines of ammo for the sub machine gun and 64 shotgun shells, depending on how many of the ammunition pouches were found throughout the game.
  • Bowdlerise: For some nebulous reason, perhaps to keep the ESRB rating low, several swears from the N64 version are edited out in the PS2 release (even a minor "cripes"), which is strange as several "damns" and "bastards", even a "hell" or two get thrown around anyway.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Some of the SCAT members have their moments, particurlarly Jean-Luc and Jake.
  • Downer Ending: The bad ending, obviously. Although pretty much all of the terrorists are dead, SCAT is brought down to two members out of ten doing so - and they failed to stop the terrorists from destroying both the Pentagon and the White House.
  • Disposable Women: Lisa in the bad ending.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Dan, the squad leader, betrays the team and his country, causing their helicopter to crash in the beginning and personally killing two of his own team members. When he is defeated, he reveals that he is from Sarcozia, and Kenneth is his brother. He technically qualifies as Evil All Along, since he notes that his treasonous thoughts began when he first encountered a group of Sarcozian rebels back when he was a Navy SEAL.
  • Final Boss: In both endings, it's Cecile.
  • Fictional Country: Sarcozia.
  • Guns Akimbo: Deathmask uses a pair of handguns. Banderas goes further by pairing up SMGs.
  • Guilt Complex: After he is defeated, before dying, Dan admits he feels this due to what he's done, to the point that it has made his life a living hell plagued with nightmares. Enough that he wants to end it all.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: While all the slain SCAT members qualify for trying to stop the terrorists, Law has one unforgettable moment when he sends Jean-Luc down to the factory to hold off the mooks, while he succeeds in killing the mooks, he is further wounded by them and then finished off by Cecile.
  • Kill Sat: The Gulf System that the Crying Lions hijack is a satellite that fires a huge laser beam that will instantly obliterate it's target, in the intro the Crying Lions use it to destroy the Space Center. One thing about it is it takes several hours to charge between blasts.
    • If you take too much time, the terrorists will again use the satellite to destroy the Pentagon, and later the White House.
  • Laughing Mad: Jin, one of the bosses, does nothing but laugh maniacally the entire time he's fought, until he's killed.
  • Laser Sight: All guns in the game have one, including the rocket launcher and silenced handgun.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Kenneth gives this speech in the bad ending.
  • Interface Spoiler: In Versus, all the unlockable bosses wield only one signature weapon. So does Dan.
  • I Shall Taunt You: A layered variant. Upon reaching the GULF satellite control room in the Good Ending route, Jean-Luc is surprised to finally see Dan waiting for him after which Dan admits in full of his treachery, but without elaborating so to his reasons. He offers to tell his side if he fights him, for which Jean-Luc can't bring himself to do so. His dithering sends Dan into a rant reminding Jean-Luc that he's wasting time to stop the GULF satellite from firing again, and questions whether he cares to avenge what has happened to the rest of his deceased teammates. He caps off by firing a round dangerously close towards Jean-Luc's head to finally goad him into fighting him.
  • Jerkass: Cecile, he even states himself in the bad ending that nothing makes his day more than knowing he just completely ruined someone else's.
  • Necessary Evil: While not saying this directly, after Jean-Luc defeats Dan and asks him why he and the Crying Lions resorted to terrorism to win their war and sacrificed hundreds of thousands of innocent people, Dan claims that there was no choice because they couldn't win in a straight battle, there was no going back and that they had come too far to just give up. He also says that he knows it's just an excuse but that's how it was for them.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: After Jake is killed by Cecile, he tells Deathmask to "Teach our young friend here the value of making quick decisions."
  • Nintendo Hard: Jean-Luc is as vulnerable to locational damage (and consequently headshots) as the enemies he's firing at, can't take much damage, and has one spare magazine's worth of ammo for his SMG and Shotgun unless you grab the secret magazine pouches. Your enemies have unlimited ammo, absurdly pinpoint accuracy if Jean-Luc ever exposed and standing still, and constantly ambush you. If you want to get the good ending, you have to exploit the fact that no one can lead their shots and shoot every enemy inbetween their bursts of fire or just outright run past them while taking as little damage as possible, as the Take Cover! system becomes something of an afterthought and a hindering crutch. This also isn't covering the fact that the controls are wonky as hell regardless of whether you're playing the N64 version or the PS2 version, and plenty of traps and explosive-laden areas center around instant death if you do one thing wrong or Jean-Luc doesn't crawl under a death laser just right.
  • Non-Lethal K.O.: Lisa gets this twice, first from Cecile's bodyguard, Deathmask, then from Dan after he reveals his treason to her. Also, you can do this to enemies from behind.
  • Not Completely Useless: The rocket launcher, while the vehicles are mysteriously indestructible in the game, even from hits from the rocket launcher, it can be used to take out a group of enemies, or kill the gunner of a mounted gun.
  • One Bullet Clips: Surprisingly realistic about this, considering its age. Reloading the handgun or submachine gun requires you to drop the existing magazine so you can replace it with a fresh one - which includes dropping all of the ammo left in it. The pistol avoids any issues related to that by having an infinite supply, but that means the submachine gun will waste any bullets you didn't fire if you reload halfway through. The plus side is that, if you do reload before totally emptying your mag, you keep the bullet in the chamber to fire first from the next mag - the ammo counters for most weapons even take the form of a side-view of the bullets in a transparent magazine, the top one slightly forward and above the actual image of the mag to indicate it's chambered (thus not falling away with all the others when you reload). The shotgun plays this straight, which is half-right - it is fed via loose shells, which would allow for topping off without wasting ammo, but it has a fixed-length reload animation like the other guns and doesn't follow the rule for chambered rounds. The silenced handgun and four-barreled rocket launcher avoid the issue by not having reloads at all, Jean-Luc simply firing off what they come with and then dropping them until he can find another.
  • Race Against the Clock: To the point that the ending you get depends on whether you're able to reach a certain point late in the game within two hours and thirty minutes or not.
  • Railing Kill: Some mooks will fall off an edge after you shoot them, if they are close enough.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Although they claim otherwise, the Crying Lions steal the satellite to use it as revenge against the United States for interfering in their civil war with the Sarcozian Government. Also, after finding Steve's body, Jean-Luc vows to "make the bastards pay" for the deaths of Matt, Tom and Steve; unfortunately, even more members of the team follow them before he does. During the bad ending path, he again vows revenge after finding Lisa and Jake's bodies.
  • Say My Name: Lila screams Cecile's name after she is defeated.
  • Schrödinger's Gun: The endings change radically in what all happens. Did you fail to get to the last stretch of the game in two hours and thirty minutes? Cecile serves as a textbook final boss fight and Kenneth ends up committing suicide to escape the crimes he committed of destroying Washington D.C. If you managed to make it in time, however, Cecile betrays Kenneth and apparently had been planning it the entire time, Lisa lives, Dan finally appears after seemingly dying in the opening, commits to his Face–Heel Turn and seemingly kills Cecile before the pair serve as the Final Boss and a weakened Post Climax Boss respectively, and the satellite is destroyed. A few of these plot points shouldn't be so exclusive to the good ending, but your failure demotes the plot entirely.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": The Crying Lions' homeland: Saroczia, as consistently spelled in the N64 version? Sarcozia, as spelled and voiced in the PS2 version? Zarozcia, as seen in both versions' game manuals?
  • Suddenly Voiced: The characters are all voiced in the Playstation 2 version, as the N64 had to cut voice-acting to save space on the cartridge.
  • Suspicious Video-Game Generosity: Depending on the difficulty level, while you can only carry certain amounts of clips for the sub-machine gun and shotgun, picking up ammo pouches throughout the game will allow you to carry more, still they are a rare item, and so are the silenced handguns and the rocket launchers.
  • Stripper Ific: Lila's outfit counts, considering the only part of her upper body that's covered is her chest and shoulders. Even the upper area of her outfit has a low neckline.
  • Take Cover!: The game features a cover system, which can be used to help you avoid taking damage.
  • Tap on the Head: Lisa gets knocked unconscious by Cecile's silent bodyguard Deathmask in order to shut her up when she is captured towards the end of the game after Jean-Luc reaches the control room. Jean-Luc can also strike an enemy from behind with his weapon's butt.
  • The Unfought: Kenneth, in both endings, in the good ending he is murdered by his second in command, Cecile, in the bad ending he kills himself after Jean-Luc confronts him..
    • A couple of other bosses in the bad ending path (Jinn, Deathmask, and Dan) are omitted.
  • Timed Mission: An unspoken gimmick of the game you might not realize is there until the Pentagon and the White House get nuked from orbit. Every mission is silently timing you with an arcade style scoring after every stage (of 32), and you have two hours and thirty minutes to make it to the endgame or else you're locked into the bad ending - potentially halfway or less through the game. This isn't necessarily super tight, but it does require only using the cover system in emergencies, knowing what you're doing ahead of time, and basically blitzing through the missions and bosses.
  • Unbuilt Trope: Despite being the Trope Codifier of cover-based shooting, WinBack actually uses the cover system as a necessary last resort rather than a core element of the game design. Because of the Timed Mission nature of the game, Jean Luc cannot afford to play defensively and wait out enemy fire to pop off shots if the player is gunning for the Golden Ending. Instead, the game encourages head-on assaults or even running/dodge-rolling past enemies, using cover for a breather in order to quickly reassess the situation. As well, simply crouching behind cover is actually safer and easier than using the actual cover-based mechanics.
  • Unusable Enemy Equipment: You can never pry weapons out of dead terrorists' hands, or even ammo, and have to settle for finding your own guns and scattered ammo pickups. Several of the bosses also make use of weapons that the player simply doesn't get access to, like Lila's M60, Sgt. Thunder's flamethrower, Duke's gatling gun, and Banderas' twin Uzis.
  • What Ever Happened To The Mouse: Dan's whereabouts remain unknown in the bad ending.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: All the Crying Lions, especially Kenneth, think of themselves this way. In the bad ending, Kenneth tries to justify all that he and the Crying Lions have done by making excuses such as when Jean-Luc asks how what they've been through is an excuse to kill innocent people and destroy their property and livelyhood he says that it's an "Unavoidable sacrifice." and "The price of justice is never cheap." and "There are some problems that can only be solved through a display of force."
    • Similarly, in the Good ending path after defeating Dan, Jean-Luc will ask why the Crying Lions stooped to terrorism and sacrificing hundreds of thousands of innocent lives, Dan will respond by saying they had no choice because they couldn't win in a straight battle, that there was no going back and they came too far to just give up. At least he, unlike his brother, understands that he's just making excuses, but says that it's how it was for them.
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: The Crying Lions are revealed in the intro by the Defense Secretary's advisor that they are the last remenants of a rebel group defeated in the Sarcozian Civil War.

Alternative Title(s): Operation Winback


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