In 1993 I had not yet been exposed to adventure games, but I assume buyers of C.I.T.Y. 2000 might not have played lots of AG's before at that time. It made sense that you studied the manual first and then took an hour or so to get familiar with the interface.
Playing the game now, it pays to find that mindset again, or for the first time. I glanced at the manual and saw the familiar hand, wrench and speech bubble icons (take, operate, talk) and thought I was OK.
You play American secret agent Jon Daring ('Be Daring in London') who is called on to help the, apparently incapable, British Secret Service stop criminal Stanislav Rooter from carrying out his world domination scheme.
The game starts with your arrival on Heathrow airport. You can walk around a bit and that's it. That is unless you take the time to really read the manual. I had tried all the icons on everything visible and nothing happened. It turned out you can activate an 'object list' that shows everything of interest in that location. You use the different icons on the words in that list and never on the screen itself! This conveniently eliminates any pixelhunting, so once I got the hang of this I was on my way to the Hilton to check in.
From there I was sent from one meeting to the next, and a good part of the gameplay consists of navigating London to find the next destination. A big part of London is immediately available for exploration and presented in 1600 photographs. This is effectively a huge maze, but fortunately you'll find a map early on and you can choose to display it fullscreen. That way you don't see the photo's, but navigating Londen becomes much easier. The photo's are not exactly eyecandy anyway with washed out colours, so I used this method most of the time.
When you find your destination, that usually triggers a blocky FMV cutscene in wich you receive new instructions. There are no subtitles so you should make sure you understand what has been said (some actors speak very, ehh, British. At one point I was looking for a 'pub' when it should have been a 'park'). You can replay a cutscene as often as you like until you do something else. After that you can't go back.
Apart from finding your way there are various AG tasks to perform such as decoding a message, negotiating dialogue trees to find the one positive outcome, creating diversions and even solving a crossword puzzle.
Some actions are timed, like when a guard you got rid of may return quickly, and failing often results in game over. But it is always clear when the situation gets dangerous, so you can save your game in time. In one of the only four save slots! They did that in 1993 and some developers are still doing it: making a game in wich you can die and then only allowing for a few save slots.
There are no action or arcade elements in the game.
C.I.T.Y. 2000 played fine in dosbox, but there's one catch. The game is on cd-rom but comes with an 3.5" update diskette. Without it the cutscenes didn't play correctly, at least on my system. So you will probably need a 3.5" drive, or a method to copy the files to another medium.
After a frustrating start, first the update diskette and then being stuck on blurry Heathrow, I warmed up to the game and after finetuning my expectations and finding the right retro mindset, I had a mostly enjoyable 8 hours in London. That time can be a lot shorter though, if you read the manual first, are better at finding your way than I am or if you use a walkthrough more often.