- See also: Red Herring (Agent)
During her investigation of any Criminal Plot, Max will slowly gather information regarding various agents belonging to different Organizations and residing in different Cities in the world. It is Max's job not only to track down these individuals, but to ascertain what role they play in the unfolding Plot - if at all.
While you may track down several enemy agents who are indeed playing a part in the Plot, many will be discovered to have no part in it whatsoever. These are Red Herring Agents, enemy operatives who exist solely to confuse Max and derail her investigation by wasting her precious time.
Such agents are, by and large, indistinguishable from Plot Participants. They have their own names, affiliation, place of residence, and so forth, like any other agent. It is even possible to collect Clues that lead towards them. However, the more you investigate a Red Herring Agent, the more time is wasted, since these agents cannot be arrested (they've done nothing wrong, at least not on the scale Max operates on), and thus are completely irrelevant. The only discernable difference is their Role, which is usually the last thing you find about such an agent, and by that point many hours will have been wasted on a dead end lead.
Red Herring Data, therefore, refers to any Clue piece or even direct evidence collected about such agents. It too is indistinguishable from data pointing towards Plot Participants, at least when taken on its own. As you accumulate more and more data about any Red Herring Agent, it should become increasingly clear that this person is not involved in the plot - though it is up to you (the player) to make the deduction as early as possible before too much time is wasted collecting this data.
Red Herring MentionsEdit
The name of a Red Herring Agent often pops up in Mentions, collected normally during Photography or Wiretapping. Their Facial Photograph, the City where they reside, and even the Organization to which they are affiliated may also be mentioned.
Due to the randomal nature of Mentions, it's possible to pick up a Red Herring Mention virutally anywhere, that is, not necessarily in the same city as the Red Herring's location or in a Hideout belonging to the same Organization. This is part of what makes it so difficult to tell actual, useful Data from Red Herring Data.
This is also a good reason to keep track of mentions - especially Name Mentions. By writing down names you've seen Mentioned, you can later "weed out" the Red Herrings using various methods. The best way to do so without wasting too much time is to query these during Terminal Hacking. If a terminal can match the agent's name, and the agent is in fact a Red Herring, this will immediately be listed on that agent's Suspect File.
Red Herring CluesEdit
This term refers to Clues which point to a Red Herring Agent. They appear like any other clue, and so are not immediately distinguishable from Clues pointing to actual Participants.
Red Herring Clues tend to appear quite early in the investigation, as Clues are often easy to come by.
The only real way to know whether a Clue is pointing to a Red Herring or not, without actually investigating the person this clue is pointing to, is to pay close attention to the suspect's profession as listed in the Clue (assuming that specific piece of the clue has already been acquired). Then, figure out whether a person of this profession is likely to participate in the current plot. This usually requires knowing which plot is being attempted by the enemy, as well as the types of participants it usually involves.
For example, let's say a Clue is collected that is said to point to a known Kidnapping Specialist. However, the current plot being performed is a DataCrime, which does not involve any kidnapping whatsoever. It is fair to assume that the clue is pointing to a Red Herring.
Another, more complex example: Say you've collected a clue pointing to a Kidnapping Specialist, and the current Plot is a Kidnapping attempt - but you already know the identity of the Kidnapper. In this case, assuming the new clue is pointing to another person, you can safely assume that this new suspect is not involved, since you already know who the Kidnapper is and there can't be two of them.
In both examples, of course, it is required that you know the general structure of the plot, otherwise the above deductions would not have been possible. This is another reason to familiarize yourself with the various possible Criminal Plots.
Red Herring EvidenceEdit
Red Herring Agents have Suspect Files, just like all other named agents. Hard Evidence collected during Break-Ins and Wiretaps may create a new Suspect File pertaining to such a Red Herring, which is initially indistinguishable from the Suspect File of an actual Participant. It will appear on the Review Suspects list just like all other Suspect Files.
Assuming you investigate more deeply into the suspect's background, the Red Herring's name, affiliation, location and rank will eventually be revealed. However, these will not in themselves help distinguish this agent as a Red Herring - for that you will need to discover the agent's Role, which will then show up as "(NOT INVOLVED)", indicating a Red Herring.
Actually gathering information about a Red Herring is, of course, a waste of time - that is the point to their existence, after all. However, it may sometimes be necessary to seek this information if you cannot deduce the Herring's true identity on your own. Unfortunately this usually means traveling to the suspect's city, and collecting information at their Hideout, and this takes time.
The quickest method to get the relevant evidence is to query the suspect's name on a Terminal during a Hacking attempt. Granted, not all terminals contain data about all suspects, but this is the easiest way to get that data without traveling too far. If the Terminal can match the Herring's name, it will immediately fill the Herring's Role data with the words "(NOT INVOLVED)", saving you a lot of trouble. If the terminal does reveal the suspect's general information (affiliation and location) but not their role, this suspect is definitely a Participant! Of course, if the terminal provided no match, you cannot make any deduction one way or another.