Thursday, May 19, 2011

Stuff I Grew Up With/Video Game Corner: Mission: Impossible (1998)

I've honestly never been a fan of Mission: Impossible. I never watched the TV series and I'm no fan of Tom Cruise so I don't like the movies. So when I first played this game, it was purely a blind rental. I'd heard a bit about it from Nintendo Power magazine and that it kind of resembled Goldeneye in its design. Now I loved Goldeneye so I figured I'd give this a try. Much to my surprise, I actually found myself enjoying Mission: Impossible. I may not have been familiar with the series or the movies (other than the theme song, of course) but I found this to be an interesting and fun game to play.

Nintendo Power was right when they said level and character designs of Mission: Impossible resembled Goldeneye. However, as they also mentioned, the gameplay is very different. Instead of being a "shoot 'em up", this game is more about stealth. You sneak around a lot, silently eliminating enemies when necessary, recovering computer disks and documents, sabotaging the enemy's computer systems, destroying important buildings and hardware, and so forth. The plot vaguely resembles the first movie but as was the case with Goldeneye, there are missions that have nothing to do with the plot of the film it's based on.

You control Ethan Hunt, the point man for the IMF team. You maintain contact with and interact with a variety of characters, both friend and foe, throughout the game. There's Jim Phelps, the actual leader of the team, whom you're in contact with during the first two missions but who later turns out to be an enemy. After you terminate him, Ethan becomes the new leader. Candice Parker is a top cryptology agent whom you rescue during the second mission and becomes your contact and top friend for the rest of the game. During the Ice Hit and Ice Storm missions (the first and last missions respectively), your allies are John Clutter, a specialist in radio systems and explosives, and Andrew Dowey, an ex-marine colonel with knowledge of electronics and alarm systems. During the Recover NOC List mission, your allies are Sarah Davies, a deep cover agent who's valuable for information in high society; Dieter Harmon, another deep cover agent who makes as a bartender and is another valuable source of information; and Jack Kiefer, whom arranges your getaway at the end of the mission. During the Mole Hunt mission, your only allies other than Candice as two disavowed agents, Krieger and Luther Stickll, who act as snipers during the first part of the mission.

You have plenty of weapons during the game. The silent 7.65 is useful for killing enemies discreetly but I've always found its range to be a bit limited. You use a blow pipe during the first part of the second mission but it's very weak and not necessary to accomplish your goal. You only get one shot as well so I usually don't use it. Hi-power 9mm is very useful because it has a long range and usually works when going for headshots. The dart gun is for when you need to get enemies out of your way but you aren't allowed to kill them. It has a short range but one shot is all it takes to put an enemy out; the downside, though, is that on a couple of levels, the enemies wake up. The stunner is useful when it actually hits its target. Its range sucks though so I only use it as a last resort. Rocket launchers usually work but I think they're only available as a cheat. The Uzi is very useful due to its good range and dependency on killing in in just two shots. Despite my opinions on the weapons, you don't have much of a choice most of the time and as for the other equipment, I won't go into it because the individual are only available when they're necessary.

While I do like this game, don't get me wrong, it does have its fair share of problems. While the graphics are similar to Goldeneye, I think that game did a better job on them though. The graphics here are fairly standard, middle of the road quality. The characters' movements are much more fluid in Goldeneye as well. The sound design in this game is fairly good. The weapons, gadgets, and characters all sound okay in that you can hear them but they could be a lot better. There's no spoken dialogue in the game (it's all in text boxes) except for when you're given your mission objectives before three of the missions, but every once in a while, Ethan says something like, "There it is!", "There, that's better!" or "Piece of cake!" My favorite is when you accidentally touch one of the lasers during the infamous ventilation shaft level and he'll sometimes say, "Ow, that's hot!" My biggest problems with the game are the controls and camera operation. Cycling through your weapons and equipment is easy when you get the hang of it but the problem is that in some levels, you're limited in how you can move. In some, you can only walk and not run, which can be a problem in some instances. The biggest complaint I have is when you're hiding behind a wall and someone is on the other side. There's no way to peek around the wall except for moving out from behind cover, which puts you in the line of fire. This is also a game where you can't move the camera. You can go to an over the shoulder camera position but you can't move if you're holding a gun while doing so (and you sometimes can't move even if you don't have a gun). That makes firing around corners really challenging, especially when you're playing the hard Impossible difficulty where you have less ammo and the enemies take a lot more shots to put down.

The AI in the game can sometimes be a problem because the characters are sometimes either really stupid or so smart that they border on psychic. For example, there are parts of the second mission where you have to escort and protect Candice Parker. I can't stand escort missions anyway but sometimes while playing, she'll lag behind and you have to come and get her to make her come on. She's often done this to me during the Sewage Control section of the mission, where you have a limited amount of time to get to the supercomputer once it's unlocked. She has sometimes cost me the game because she takes too long to get to me. And for an example of the AI being a little too smart, take what happened to me one time during the Interrogation part of the CIA Escape mission. There's a part near the end where you have to enter this guy's off and put him down before he sets off the alarm. One time, I walked past his office to check out the last few rooms. I didn't go in, I just walked past. I suddenly got his dialogue box with him begging me not to shoot him because he was unarmed and then I heard the alarm blaring. That flabbergasted me because I wasn't in his office. That tends to happen where you'll caught when you're nowhere near an enemy. It's really annoying.

Now, I'll go through the missions and talk about what I like and didn't like about them. Since the Impossible difficulty adds new objectives to some missions, I'll discuss them as well.

Ice Hit
Ludkwist Base: Being the very first mission, this is simple in both difficulties. Getting the guy in the first building and taking his identity is simple. The strategy guide acts like once he leaves his office, he won't come back but I've found he will return if you wait a few seconds. The only hard part I encountered during the Impossible version was due to my own stupidity. You have to destroy these circuit breakers but I didn't check to make sure there weren't any guards around. I was spotted and the mission was shot because now all the guards were after me. Other than that, it's simple.

Subpen: This is pretty simple in both difficulties too. The first time I played it, I forgot to sabotage the enemy boat docked at the other end of the sub and ended up getting captured as a result. Other than that, getting the mines, getting one mine to Clutter, and joining the getaway is pretty simple.

Recover NOC List
Embassy Function: I always liked this level because it's the most casual of them all. Here, you're at a party in the embassy and you have to covertly accomplish your tasks. When I first played it, it took me a few tries to figure out what I'm supposed to do. Getting the facemaker from Sarah Davies and planting the smoke generators in the air ducts is easy enough but you have to keep your eye on the guard patrolling the halls; if he sees you doing so, it's instant game over. I had to figure out how to get the Ambassador's Aide to come downstairs but through a lot of trial and error, I was able to do so and give him the drink with nausea powder in it. The first time I followed him to the restroom, I didn't know I was supposed to knock him out. I languished until he got over his sickness and eventually went back upstairs, causing me to fail. The only difference between the two difficulties is that in Impossible, you have to eliminate the killer who's following you whereas it's optional in Possible. You have to lure her into the restroom but taking her out can be tricky because she'll sometimes stop in the doorway and if you knock her out before she gets all the way in, you'll be captured; if you wait too long, though, she'll kill you. I've found that the best way to get rid of her is to take the Aide's identity first, talk to her in the hallway, which will lead her to the bathroom, and then you can take her out because she'll be shocked at finding the real Aide in one of the stalls.

Warehouse: This level is easy to get lost in. First of all, when you destroy these crates to clear your path, the place starts filling up with toxic gas which slowly drains your health. You can find an antidote that will temporarily restore some of your health but you have to quickly find a bio suit to complete the level. It's in a different area in the Impossible version than in the other and once you put it on, you become a target for enemies. For another, I tend to run out of ammo in Impossible because it's so easy to get lost and you have to keep destroying crates to go further. Also in Impossible, you have to destroy five crates that contain pieces of special equipment. It's difficult but you can do it once you get acquainted with where everything is and with a little practice.

KGB HQ: The Impossible version of this level has its fair share of difficulties. When it comes to getting the facemask from the supply closet, there's a guard standing in front of it and you have to use a beeper you can find to distract him in order to quickly get in, grab the device, and get back out. (I usually end up getting stuck and thereby, get caught.) I've sometimes accidentally shot Barnes when you're supposed to talk to him, ruining the mission. When you grab the video freezer from the cell room, you have to make sure that the man inside and the surveillance cameras aren't looking at you. And when you take the Head Security Officer's identity and enter the secret room to jam the communications, you have to get behind the two men and quickly take them out or they'll sound the alarm. Still, it's another level that's difficult in either version once you get the hang of it.

Security Hallway: In both versions, this level is pretty straightforward. All you have to do is get to the end of the hallway while avoid the electric tiles and taking out the guards that show up. You have to be a little more careful in Impossible, though, because, whereas the red glowing tiles simply electrocute you in Possible, in this difficulty they'll not only shock you but either activate one of the sentry guns on the ceiling or blow you up, killing you instantly. Also, you have to be on your toes with the guards because they'll sometimes come up behind you instead of in front of you.

Sewage Control: The only problems I've ever run into here both have to do with Candice. First, you get on the platform to cross over the sewage, a guard will threaten her and you have to take him down quick or she'll be captured. Secondly, when you open the door to the supercomputer, you only have two minutes to get there before it closes and, as I said earlier, Candice tends to get lost and can cost you the game if you don't keep her near you. Also, some guards pop up when you go back to the start; you have to kill them quickly or you'll both be caught.

Escape: There are two parts to this. The first takes place back in the security hallway. Now you have to shoot the sentry guns so both you and Candice can make it across safely. Shoot them as much as you can because they will recover not long after you shoot them. When you're separated from Candice, there will be guards on either side of the room when the doors open so you'll more than likely get shot no matter what you do. Finally, there's the guard who steals the NOC list from Candice. In the Possible version, all you have to do is chase him and keep shooting. You'll eventually get him. In Impossible, however, you can't let him get far so shoot like crazy. The second part of this level is back in the KGB HQ. You have to unfreeze the videos, put on the mask of Golystine, get the exit key, and escape. It sounds simple enough but there are guards everywhere and if Candice gets captured, you have to release her. There is a time limit but I think you can just put the mask back on if you run out of time.

Fire Alarm: The last part of the mission is always easy for me, in both versions. All you have to do is get Candice to an elevator, get fireman suits from Jack, give one to Candice, and escape dressed as firemen. I have found out by accident not to go to the front door of the embassy when you're not dressed as a fireman or you'll be captured. You also can't let a guard follow you to the restroom where Jack gives you your uniforms or your cover will be blown.

CIA Escape

Interrogation: This is where the game started getting hard for me when I first played. Here, you're suspected of being a mole for a criminal named Max and you have to escape from CIA headquarters. Getting out of the interrogation room is easy but once you enter the main hallway, you have only ten or seven minutes (depending on which version you're playing) before the truth serum you were given takes effect. You also have to put guards out before they arrest you as well. The worst part is getting through the hallways and spraying the security cameras with paint. I don't think it's possible to avoid the first camera but as long as you're quick, you should make it. If a camera sees you, a guard (two in Impossible) will come after you and you have to deal with them. (These tend to spray you with a gas that will make you very slow and shaky for a little while.) Getting the guy you need to have lead you to the elevator can also be tricky because if you don't get the empty gun to threaten him with, he'll try to zap you with a shocker and make a run for it. Once you walk into the room where the elevator is, the serum will start to take effect and you'll have to knock the guy out before he can get into the elevator. Once you get to the infirmary, you're home free unless you did what I did originally and carried a weapon inside with you. After you get the antidote and create a distraction, you should be alright. However, sometimes the distraction doesn't work if you go straight for the window after doing it so be careful.

CIA Rooftop: This level can also be really tricky because when you put the guards out here, they tend to wake up after a while and you can easily get caught if you're not careful. I also learned that you better not put the EMS device on the box underneath the heliport lights before the helicopter lands or it'll crashed. (It was pretty funny, though.) I've also been captured while trying to scale the crates to get over the rail with invisible lasers on it, sometimes by a guard who had no way of seeing me. (I also like watching the cinematic when you jump off the building. It's pretty funny.)

Terminal Room: I absolutely hated this level when I first played the game. You have to be very familiar with the controls when you do this, otherwise you'll get screwed pretty quick. I didn't understand how I kept getting caught until I realized that the yellow lasers activate the alarm. The Impossible version is even worse because there are more lasers and one stationary yellow laser that you have to swing around (I must have gotten caught by that one so many times). There's a man that keeps entering the room and you have to remain perfectly still when he does. I also found out you can't touch the floor either and swinging to the lock on the door and the computer is really difficult.

Rooftop Escape: The hardest part of this level for me is when you have to jump over these lasers. I tend to get electrocuted when I try to jump and I have to try again, which causes me to run out of health. When you open one door, there's a guard on the other side that you have to quickly shoot or you'll be arrested. (What's worse is that in Impossible mode, he's right in front of the door so you have to act fast.) Also in Impossible, you can't let the helicopters' searchlights touch you or you'll be captured.

Mole Hunt

Station: In this level, you control one of two snipers and you have to protect Ethan as he walks around a train station. You have to help Ethan right away or he'll be killed. The level itself is not that difficult in either difficulty mode, other than Ethan walks around longer in Impossible and there are more bad guys to kill. You have to be so careful not to kill civilians because it'll look like they're taking out a gun when they're really taking out something else.

Train Car: This level is especially hard in Impossible mode. There are so many bad guys you have to kill in each car and civilians often get scared and run right in the line of fire. If you accidentally shoot one, it's game over. (I hate that in games.) I've also sometimes forgotten to talk to Candice before locking the door to the first cars. I've also found out you can't shoot when fighting the henchmen in the booths near Max or she'll detonate the bomb. Also, when putting Max out with the gas pellets, don't be in the booth with her or you'll put yourself out as well. I've also ended up detonating the bomb when I've heated it up too much.

Train Roof: This is a straightforward but dangerous level. You have to contend with henchmen on the roof of the train, drive-by shooters on the road, and choppers that swoop in on you. You can't let Phelps get too far ahead of you or it'll be game over. You also have to quickly destroy Phelps' chopper when you get to it (and I mean quickly).

Ice Storm

Subpen: This is really difficult on Impossible. Getting the items is hard because guards will come out of nowhere and quickly cut you down. You also have to be quick in getting Clutter the stuff he needs or he and Dowey will be captured. You also have to gas the inside of this guard house where an important item is being kept and that's hard to do when guards outside keep popping up and sapping your health. I also tend to miss the truck I'm supposed to jump on at the end.

Tunnel: Pretty basic level. All you have to do is avoid hazards when riding on the truck and jump onto platforms to destroy the scaffolding with dynamite. There are guards on every platform and in Impossible, it's easy to run out of ammo really quick. That's the only real obstacle about it, though.

Mainland: I really like this level because it's one of the most covert in the entire game. I have done stupid stuff like entering the bunker before I took on the accountant's I.D., which resulted in my being arrested. Also, when you play on Impossible, you have to go to these barracks and get a diagram of the breakers you have to destroy to find out which is which. I also once forgot that you also need to get the accountant's pass card or you can't get in to get the briefcase. Other than that, it's easy when you know what to do.

Gunboat: There's nothing to this last level except just blow away everything that you can, especially if it shoots at you.

After you complete the game, you return to the Embassy Function area where you can walk around and talk to animated versions of the game designers. Be sure not to punch any of them because they'll lay you out real quick. If you talk to them all, you see the true ending of the game where Ethan and Candice arrive, resulting in a huge party. (It's really nothing special.)

Mission: Impossible is definitely not a perfect game by any stretch of the imagination but I do think that it's worth playing through at least once. I think it is quite enjoyable, all things considered.

No comments:

Post a Comment