The early days of the Cold War. The USSR is blocking all land transports to the western sectors of Berlin. The USA have initiated an air bridge to supply the city. But Berlin is like a tiny island in what is going to be the GDR - when it comes to war, it'll be overrun by the Red Army immediately!
The game's story tells us that the US army, in order to prevent that, has smuggled an a-bomb into the city. This bomb disappears. There can't be an official investigation of course, so it is up to the CIA to find this deadly weapon before it gets into the wrong hands.
You're the agent Sam Porter and the job is almost fully up to you. You can travel freely through the different zones, either by foot (slow, but good for small distances) or taxi (calling one is only worth it for longer travels). The whole city is simulated like this, so you can even walk from one end to the other if you want - at least on the main streets.
You will meet a lot of inhabitants most of which are of course not involved and have nothing to say about the case. The hardest thing is to find out who does know something, even if he/she isn't aware of that. Classic detective work.
Some people will have to be convinced to talk, some will have to be tricked into opening their mouthes, some will lie to you - figuring out how still to get the full and true picture is the fun part.
The not-so-fun part is figuring out where to start. Sure, it might be realistic, but leaving the player in such confusion? Too much freedom for my taste.
What's really interesting about East vs West is the innovative technical ways it goes. The Amiga has a speech synthesizer, but the electric voices it produces are of course not suited for use in games. Recorded speech used too much disk space for a game on a few floppies.
The intro sequence is set in a cinema. A mute cinema? Of course not! The game box contained an audio cassette which contains the audio part of the intro as well as the music and speech for another longer cut scene in mid-game. The game just tells the player when to start playing the cassette. Nice way around a common technical limitation of the machines!
The second major difference to most Adventures is the graphics. It is in third person view, but from top down! If you're into newer games, you'll know this style from the more popular game Dream Web.
Since the game is mainly about conversation, the controls are quite different from the usual, too. There is no real extensive inventory, but conversations with other characters play like puzzles! You have to choose the topic to talk about, your approach (questioning, informing, threatening,...) and some more things in a very detailed way. This is a bit complicated, but as soon as you get used to the system, it works quite efficiently.
If you like mystery Adventures, East vs West certainly isn't a bad choice. It's lacking the neat design of really good games though. Still, it is a must-play for its historical importance. Limited technology didn't stop game designers to make their 'dream game' back then - they just thought of ways because they were still able to think...