Mission: ImpossibleThree years in the making, does this game live up to its hype?
Originally slated for release more than a year ago, Ocean's Mission: Impossible finally comes home -- but what once looked like the game to rival GoldenEye and Metal Gear Solid, emerges as an unbalanced action-adventure teetering between greatness and mediocrity.
Players take on the role of IMF (Impossible Mission Force) agent Ethan Hunt. The game has many objectives laid out through five complex missions spanning 20 levels. Almost every mission is completely different from the preceding one -- offering a lot of variety and a different experience in each one. Unfortunately, the lack of balance between the different levels makes this a disadvantage, rather than one of the game's strong points.
I guess it's a problem with most titles that try to combine different gameplay and control styles in one game. Don't get me wrong, Mission: Impossible has its moments. When you're sitting high on a tower looking down on a train station sniping bad guys with your rifle or you're hanging from a fiber-optic wire avoiding laser beams -- Mission: Impossible delivers exactly what it set out to do: Spy adventure action. In those rare moments, gamers will feel like Ethan Hunt or his accomplice, and are drawn directly into the story line of the game. But at other times, you will be running around blindly through foggy and dithered levels looking for tool X and going through countless processes of trial and error elimination.
For example: One mission has you escape the CIA headquarters. You walk into a room and sneak over to a cell door. As you look at the guard, he hits a switch and the door closes. Game over. Start again.
You run into the room, shoot the guy, hit a switch, take the guard's fingerprints with the help of a gadget and run around the corner. You're detected by a camera. A guard comes in and stuns you. You kill him. You find a paint can. You spray the security camera to prevent more guards from coming. Sounds cool so far, right? Well, you enter a room via a switch. There's someone sitting at the desk. He looks important, so let's not shoot him. He raises his arms. Will he talk to you? Nope, he hits an alarm. Mission failed. Start over.
You run into the room, shoot the guy, hit a switch, take the guard's fingerprints, run around the corner, a guard comes in and stuns you, you kill him, you find a paint can, spray the security camera, hit the switch, enter the room, now shoot the guy and enter the room next door. There's another important guy in there. He draws a weapon. Shoot him! Mission failed. Start Over.
Into the room, shoot the guy, hit a switch, take the guard's fingerprints, around the corner, kill the guard, get spray paint, spray camera, hit the switch, enter the room, shoot the guy, enter next room, important guy shoots you and runs out, you follow him, get groggy, he enters an elevator... Mission Failed.
Into the room, shoot the guy, hit a switch, take the guard's fingerprints, around the corner, kill the guard, get paint can, spray camera, hit the switch, enter the room, shoot the guy, enter the room, point gun at important guy, he says something ("objective accomplished" pops up), he shoots you and runs out, you follow, he opens the elevator, you shoot him, you get groggy, you get into the elevator, you enter another room still with the gun in your hand, someone screams, guards come. Mission Failed.
I think you get the point by now. Mission: Impossible can be very frustrating when you have to repeat certain objectives over and over again. There is nothing wrong with challenging gameplay, but if you're forced to repeat the same tasks because you don't know what's in the next room, it gets a bit tedious.
Control, likewise, is inconsistent and could have used a lot of tightening. Depending on what level you're in, Ethan can sometimes jump, run or climb. At other times, he can only walk and examine things. This inconsistency puts severe limitations on the gamer's ability to enjoy the gameplay and feel immersed in the environments. For example, whenever someone in the office played the embassy mission (still one of the most enjoyably missions in the game), the first question was always: "Huh? How do I run?" Jumping controls are loose and quick reactions are hampered by the often low framerate and it doesn?t help that there are annoying delays whenever you shoot an enemy -- as if the victims are pondering their dilemma before finally deciding to hit the floor.
On the positive side, Mission: Impossible is a highly original game and dares to try and stand out from the mass of shooters. Even though the story lines of the two movies are very similar, Mission: Impossible thankfully doesn't emerge as a GoldenEye clone at all. Even in its train mission, the game holds its own and comes up with acompletely different feel and look. What a shame that the Infogrames development team, who took over the project after the original design team quit, didn't manage to get all the levels up to par.
I do suggest you check this game out, mainly because it boasts a lot of originality, two difficulty modes, and a fair number of enjoyable missions. But the control problems, lack of balance and repetitive gameplay will turn off the majority of gamers spoiled by games like GoldenEye or Metal Gear. Even with its flaws, I'm glad Infogrames/Ocean finally finished the project and got it out the door (I'm sure the game's programmers are, too). Let's hope that the follow-up title will be designed from scratch, with all new technology and engines -- but retains the same level of originality. A good, challenging rental (especially on its "Impossible" difficulty setting) for one player.