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Black Ops Cold War Operation Red Circus side mission: how to review suspects and find evidence

black ops cold war operation red circus
(Image credit: Activision)

The Black Ops Cold War Operation Red Circus is one of the tougher side missions, as you have to review suspects and examine evidence to choose your targets. It's especially tricky as you'll need to find three pieces of key evidence in other missions as you play, and then use what you've found to make your deductions before starting the actual Operation Red Circus mission itself.

Coming up, we're going to explain where to find all the evidence, and then how to review suspects and pick the right targets.

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The Black Ops Cold War Operation Red Circus side mission explained

black ops cold war operation red circus

(Image credit: Activision)

When you're first introduced to the evidence board you'll be told about Operation Red Circus and Operation Chaos, the two side missions you can tackle at any time. However, while you can just jump in and try your luck then and there, both need evidence located in other missions if you want to absolutely 100% them and get the best resolution. 

In the case of Operation Red Circus your target is the Soviet major Vadim Rudnik, who's helping Perseus place agents in various European governments. You can just start the mission and go after Rudnik but unless you identify three of his assets beforehand you'll only take out the Spymaster and not the spies. 

There are eight suspects in total for Operation Red Circus, each listed with a photo and some details, including a recent travel itinerary. By finding the evidence in other missions you'll get info that will help you narrow down the options, and with all three pieces of evidence you should be left with only three candidates. Fortunately, if you've missed any evidence you can replay missions to look for it, so let's see where you can find it all.

1. Franz Kraus's Ledger, Brick in the Wall 

black ops cold war operation red circus

(Image credit: Activision)

The first piece of evidence is Franz Kraus's Ledger, which you can find during the Brick in the Wall mission. You'll only find it, though, if you take on the mission to kill or rescue the Black Ops Cold War operative Lucas Richter. If you take that on you'll discover a basement and, on a table inside, a tape reel next to a camera. For some reason this will appear as a book when you examine the evidence back at the safe house.

2. Cassette tape with activities report, Echoes of a Cold War

black ops cold war operation red circus

(Image credit: Activision)

Echoes of a Cold War will see you revisiting the Mount Yamantau facility from the original Black Ops game. When you enter the first building via the hole in the wall you'll be able to find a cassette tape on a table, on the ground floor, that's another piece of Operation Red Circus evidence. 

3. Wrist Watch containing dead drop list, Desperate Measures 

black ops cold war operation red circus

(Image credit: Activision)

The mission you undertake in The KGB Lubyanka headquarters contains the final piece of evidence, and is the hardest to find. This level is an open space you can freely explore and it's not entirely clear if the evidence is bugged, or can appear anywhere in the listed map locations, making it tricky to find. 

(Image credit: Activision)

If you're having trouble finding it there does seem to be a way that will increase your chances (we got it this way on a third try). Once you've cleared the camera room and deactivated surveillance, the level opens up completely and you can go anywhere. If you go immediately to the Records Room, before any other locations, it should be on a desk there. That's the red marked room just above and to the right of the map center. It's not one of the initially marked objective options so it's easy to complete the mission without ever going there, depending on the choices you make. However, it looks like the watch has the greatest chance of appearing here if you go there before you visit anywhere else and trigger potential side objectives. It should appear on a desk, in a back room next to a green lamp. 

How to review and mark suspects in Operation Red Circus

black ops cold war operation red circus

(Image credit: Activision)

As we mentioned earlier, you'll have eight suspects to look at and need to pick three before you start the mission. If you pick correctly, you'll take out Vadim personally while the identified spies are dealt with separately. 

The evidence will consists of names, dates and pronouns, and will be randomized so you'll have to do some detective work to figure things out. There will be three code names mentioned, and as far as we can tell these are always Bearded Lady, Strong Man and Juggler. Each piece of evidence will contain code names, dates, locations and, in one case, genders, that you will need to cross-reference to identify each suspect. The suspect list will have a picture that shows if they appear male or female, as well as a list of places and the dates they were there.  

Here's what you've got to look for: 

  • Wrist watch containing dead drop list - this will show each suspect was in one location on a certain date. 
  • Cassette tape with activities report - this will have a small report on each suspect with a specific gender associated with them. 
  • Franz Kraus's Ledger - this will also show the suspect was in a certain location on a certain date, via a financial transaction. 

The only way to identify the three suspects is to compare all the intel in these three pieces of evidence. For each of the code names you should find one suspect that matches both dates from the Wrist Watch and Ledger, with the mention of gender eliminating any male or female suspects that might share dates.

Once you've picked your three targets, launch the mission to take down Vadim and, if you're right, you'll see a notification pop up at the end saying you correctly identified all the spies.  

Leon Hurley

I'm currently GamesRadar's guides coordinator, which means I've had a hand in producing or writing all of the guide and tips content on the site. I also write reviews, previews and features, and do video. Previously I worked for Kotaku, and the Official PlayStation Magazine and website.  I'm a big fan of open world games, horror, and narrative adventures.