It's the last days of the Soviet Union. Gorbachev has destroyed part of the old structures. But as always when there's change, there are groups who want to take advantage of it. For some, it doesn't go quickly enough, some want to go back as much as possible. And some of those aren't all that peaceful about it...
Even thecan't escape this change completely. You, Maksim Rukov, are part of the newly formed anti-corruption department. And you don't even have time to wonder why you're moved there, because your first assignment is due: investigate the murder of a private detective.
This is of course only the start of a bigger plot and soon you find yourself alone against the old communists who have some plot to turn back time.
KGB is made in typical Cryo-style (see Dune). You see the settings in first-person perspective. There is a map which helps you if you're lost. Object manipulation is done via a standard menu and there's an 'intelligent cursor' which not only notifies you when you touch a significant object, but also proposes a logical action.
Most of the progress is done via dialogues. Ask the right questions at the right time and you'll be successful. Sneak after the right people and listen to their conversations (and tape them), and you'll learn crucial information. Classic investigator stuff.
But that leads us to the biggest problem of the game: it works in real time. Each of your moves is mercilessly counted. If it all takes you too long or if you choose to visit the wrong place at some point, you've lost. And worst of all: you sometimes only notice this a significant amount of time later (read: when you've already overwritten your saved game again)!
That results in a pretty lame playing style: first you try to find the correct path (as usual), but when you've found it, you restore a position at the beginning of the scene and do it all as quickly as possible. Highly annoying, but how should you know if you haven't wasted too much time otherwise?
Another huge downpoint is the weak writing. You meet so many people and visit so many locations - but most of them only once briefly. But you're supposed to remember all the names at once! And while the story is basically not that complex (the usual conspiracy...), I never completely got it - for the simple reason that I couldn't distinguish between all these faces and names which are all so alike.
Unfortunately, these disadvantages make the game nearly unenjoyable despite the interesting theme and some nice scenes. It may be realistic to have so many locations, people and different groups, but for the sake of game design, less would have been more in this case.
Trivia: There is a CD-ROM version entitled Conspiracy which features short cut-scenes of Donald Sutherland playing Rukov's dead father. He's giving you a few hints and is basically trying to connect the disjointed parts of the incomprehensible story. The technical quality is less than poor though (interlaced mode, but more black than actual film), and they don't help understanding much. At least I still didn't get it all even after playing this 'enhanced' version...