Title :Mission: Impossible
Platforms :Nintendo 64, Sony PlayStation
Publisher :Ocean
Game Rating :7.7
Review by :Ken Gagne

Nuclear terrorists. Government cryptologists. Russian despots. The cast for a James Bond movie? No, he's had his turn on the Nintendo 64; now the Impossible Mission Force handles the task in Mission: Impossible, from Ocean. 

Based on the 1996 movie, this Nintendo 64 and PSX title is a cross between Goldeneye and Tomb Raider. As Tom Cruise's character of Ethan Hunt, players must infiltrate enemy strongholds, obtain vital information, and make a clean getaway. [N64 version reviewed here] 

M:I has a focus on covert operations, unlike the action-intensive Goldeneye (though there's still plenty of that). A typical stage involves Ethan knocking out a bad guy, using the Face-Maker to assume his identity, enter a secure area and sneak out with a hostage, weapon, or data disk. Some stages involve no gunfire at all. 

Gameplay occurs from a third-person perspective, with gamers controlling Ethan from a few feet above and behind him. The controls take some getting used to: scrolling through two separate inventories occurs during action, not on a paused screen, and items can be either "activated" or "fired," often only in the right circumstances. Ethan cannot strafe or quickly move backward, nor can he aim his gun vertically while moving. 

The graphics are nothing special. Characters seem lifted out of Goldeneye, polygonal faces and all, though some horrible morphing scenes are generated by the Face-Maker. Somemetimes judging a distance to jump is difficult from the given perspective. There is no control over the camera during action, and the available fixed points aren't much good. 

The music is equally average. Digitized speech briefs Jim Phelps on the goals of each stage, but in-game speech is mumbled or unnecessary. 

M:I can be challenging, and not always for the right reasons. All stages have multiple goals; some obvious, others not. Several attempts are necessary to learn what must be done and precisely when. Once the method for success is learned, there is little reason to do it again, limiting the game's replay value. 

Further diminishing M:I's longevity is the absence of any multiplayer mode, a feature which has prolonged Goldeneye's worth immeasurably. 

Mission:Impossible has been delayed for years; another few months wouldn't have hurt. If it had taken a first-person point of view and had better graphics, then it might be a competitor for other Nintendo 64 titles. The change of action from shooting to spy is welcome, but will be done much better by Konami's PlayStation game, Metal Gear Solid, this fall. 

Whether it's shooting or stealth you're looking for, it's Mission: Possible if you look elsewhere.

This article is copyright (c) 1998, 2007 by Ken Gagne. All rights reserved. Not to be distributed without permission.

Original publication: Sentinel & Enterprise, 03-Aug-98