Review by Eric43

Reviewed: 01/09/07 | Updated: 12/07/07

Nazdarovnie...I'm feeling sick.

After Goldeneye revolutionized Nintendo 64 history by combining FPS shooting with finesse, great multiplayer, and a good use of a movie license, it would only be a matter of time before James Bond’s secret agent “rival,” Ethan Hunt, would get his own game. Based loosely off the 1996 movie with the same name, you play as Ethan Hunt and do all sorts of fun secret agent things, such as kill random Russian guards named Boris and assume the identity of unsuspecting civilians. It sounds good on paper, but what you get is another flat shooting game that manages to cover all its bases just good enough to warrant a play.

Mission: Impossible is a third-person shooter/platformer in which you play as Ethan Hunt and engage in twenty different missions over five campaigns. The initial setting is a vacant Russian base, then goes to the Czechoslovakian embassy, CIA Headquarters, a train in Waterloo, England, and back to the boring old Russian base. Aside the missions in Russia, the game loosely follows the plot of the movie, except that it inserts extra segments just to give players more targets to shoot at. For instance, the embassy level is much longer than in the movie and Ethan actually gets the NOC list hiding in some basement. Also, a fictional character named Candice becomes Ethan's best friend/minor girlfriend for most of the game. There's all sorts of M:I flair here and there, including several gadgets from the movie and the TV show. Heck, the health bar is a fuse at the bottom of the screen that gets shorter when Ethan takes some hits.

There are two different aspects to M:I, the shooting and the boring secret agent stuff. You can shoot at guards during most parts of the game, but the shooting is not very well done. For instance, consider the basic shootout scenario. The enemy spots you, runs up to 10 feet away from you, and stands there like a dolt while taking pot shots at you. You can counter by running up and punching him or by shooting him. In this game, you need to hold down the R button to go into first-person aim and pop the guy in the head with a pistol. Unfortunately, this easy task is daunted by the sloppy aiming controls. There’s just no satisfaction in shooting guns. Dead enemies will usually experience “lag death,” in which they wait one second before doing their basic “flop over and die” routine. It’s like watching bad actors film an action movie. Also, the basic weapon of choice in this game is a pistol. The weapon selection is very poor and ammo is scarce. Unlike Goldeneye, most enemies won’t drop ammo for some reason, so you’re forced to conserve ammo when, at times, you just have the urge to blast away at a poor, unsuspecting fool and waste your ammo in the process.

To counter the fact that the AI is very stupid, in some missions, the guards will arrest you. That’s right, arrest you. These are usually in missions where you are not allowed to kill anyone. Guards will run up to you, point their gun at you, and bam—mission failed. It seems stupid because why doesn't every guard in the game do this and why can't Ethan take a shot in the chest (assuming he takes off and runs)? He can get shot around 100 times before going down (yes, the shooting in this game is that awkward). On the missions where you must avoid getting arrested, there's no real "stealth" segments when it comes to avoid getting arrested. Usually, guards will see you from far away and move in and you have to nail him with a dart gun before he takes you down.

Being a secret agent isn’t about killing guards, but going undercover and using gadgets to accomplish tasks. You get some non-lethal items such as explosive gum, a radar jammer, spiked drinks, and best of all, Ethan’s famous Face Maker, which is required to emulate the appearance of a knocked-out individual and complete certain objectives. However, you can only assume the identity of certain people, plus that’s the grandest extent of the stealth. Watching Ethan prance around as a foreign ambassador or as an accountant doesn’t necessarily count as stealth, since you’re just walking around talking to people.

M:I is geared around going through the motions of a secret agent rather than gunning down everybody, and the most fun you'll get out of it is getting through the level and completing objectives. However, the mission design is a mish-mash of laundry list objectives. Usually, if you don't know a mission beforehand, it's easy to screw up and fail. But when you do have knowledge, you go through the motions every time--get this item, knock out this guy, talk to this guy, use this gadget, etc. as you run around a bunch of vacant levels with the occasional "I'll arrest you if you do anything bad" guard and the dumbfounded civilians.

There’s about twenty selectable missions and two difficulties: possible and impossible. Even though that sounds like a lot, most missions are short and/or rehashes of previous levels. One level consists of Ethan running through a few hallways, jumping over electric tiles. Another mission involves Ethan going through a repetitive tunnel, planting bombs on support beams and shooting at about six guards. Not to mention the first level, which is as simple as “knock out the guy and get on the truck.” To compensate, there’s some unusual levels which break from the norm of walking around, shooting at dumb guards. The most famous level would be the Terminal Room, in which Ethan rappels down from the ceiling while dodging lasers and security guards. Another mission involves playing as two snipers while shooting at enemies in a train station littered with civilians. The last mission is a rail shooter in which Ethan shoots at targets on a gun boat. M:I looks to pack a lot of variety, but even with these missions, it gets repetitive very quickly.

M:I is by no means an early N64 game, so the graphics are held up to much criticism. They just aren’t great. The people models do resemble people for the most part…except for the fact you’ll run into the same dopey guard over and over again in the same old pose that makes you just want to push them off a cliff. The environments consists of some okay texturing and basic geometry. The framerate is not very good at times, and overall, this game feels static.

Sound? Personally, I enjoyed the music in the game. There’s some sort of pumping secret agent tune in each level, though that music does get repetitive. Also, there’s the classic Mission: Impossible tune, so you’ve gotta love that. As for sound effects, they are much weaker. Guns, explosions, and the "wuaahh" final words of dead guards sound weak and are constantly repeated, so it’s up to the music to fill in the blank space. However, the pinnacle of sound effects is achieved by Ethan’s witty one-liners he blurts out at random times. He will say all sorts of side-splitting things such as "Yeah, way to go!" "Piece of cake!" and "I think I singed my hair!" Not to mention that all dialogue in this game is shown through text boxes, not by any sound clips. Oh well, Goldeneye didn’t have that either, so I’ll give this game a break.

Oh, all this rambling about single player makes me wonder about multiplayer....guess what? There is no multiplayer in this game. No co-op or deathmatch. HAHA!!!

Now, whether or not one compared this to Goldeneye, this game is pretty weak. It’s got shooting, it’s got stealth, it’s got jumping, and it’s got a funny-looking Ethan Hunt. However, it doesn’t do anything great. It’s kind of fun, but you’ll find yourself getting irritated with what this game could’ve offered. If you can get one thing out of this game, it’s don’t go around punching people, or armed guards will come and point guns at your head. Enough said.

Presentation: 7/10 – It’s got Mission: Impossible written all over it, so it’s pretty cool.
Gameplay: 5/10 – Shooting is no fun, walking around is only good after ahile, not much secret agent stealth action.
Graphics: 6/10 – Average texturing, models, and animations.
Sound: 6/10 – Sound effects lack the “oomph” needed in this kind of game, okay music, funny Ethan quotes.
Replay Value: 5/10 – Two difficulties to play on, but only a few missions are really good. No multiplayer.

Rating:   2.5 - Playable

Product Release: Mission: Impossible (US, 08/14/98)

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