|Review by||:||Ken Gagne|
Spy satellites, lasers, and submarines. Grenades, assault rifles… and light guns. It's Confidential Mission, a Sega shooter for the Dreamcast.
In Confidential Mission, the terrorist group Agares has seized control of a government satellite. Two players take control of Confidential Mission Force agents Howard Gibson and Jean Clifford as they hunt the responsible party.
CM plays in the style of Virtua Cop. Play occurs from a first-person perspective, with gun-toting maniacs popping out to threaten the mission. These enemies are encircled with a target that doubles as a timer; when the hands meet, players take a hit. (What a handy piece of foresight! I could have used that in high school gym class.) An on-screen gunsight is the means by which players hand out justice.
A Justice Shot occurs when players shoot the weapon out of the enemy's hand. Malefactors go down no more or less easily with this disarming move, so don't mistake this for a Sega lesson in mercy. Just the opposite: though the common miscreant goes down with a single shot, the game awards bonus points for quickly planting additional slugs in a foe. As the manual says, "true agents ought to totally punish those who threaten the world peace." On the lighter side, downed gunners simply disappear, leaving no bloody mess.
Justice shots, combos, and other skills can be practiced in the Agent Academy. Two training modes and a simulation exist for each skill, though the minimum passing scores for each often require superhuman reflexes. Or a light gun.
Unlike most people, I find most shooting games entirely playable without a light gun peripheral. If I've ever encountered an exception, it's Confidential Mission. There are often so many small targets spread across the screen that neither the standard Dreamcast analog nor digital controls provides the speed and accuracy necessary to avoid taking a few hits — something no CMF agent can afford. For the most bang for your buck, the flexibility of a light gun is essential.
Confidential Mission is presented with only minor disturbances. Sometimes the surroundings move too much; as the agents run down stairwells and corridors, it's hard to know what the perspective will be once they stop. Other times this movement makes the game too easy, centering enemies on the screen so that no targeting is necessary. The terrorists have no awareness of their surroundings, beyond the course they're programmed to run. If they're shot in front of a crate, the body will go flying right through the background.
The voice acting, though, is bad. Resident Evil bad. And while most of the non-acting sound effects are better, the final boss whines like a brat when shot.
The game is a scant three missions long, with little variation from play to play. Since it's on tracks — the player has no say in the game's direction or pace — it takes less than a half-hour to play from beginning to end. Five difficulty settings and the challenging academy mode add replay value, but doesn't eliminate the feeling that CM is too short.
But with a retail price of $19.99, this game may be worth taking into your confidence.
This article is copyright (c) 2001, 2007 by Ken Gagne. All rights reserved. Not to be distributed without permission.
Original publication: Sentinel & Enterprise, 28-May-01