Expect the Impossible . . . but settle for the unoriginal.
Ahhh...the world of secret agents and espionage. The Impossible Missions Force (IMF) appears to be the United States' answer to that "007" fella that lives over the pond. While that English ladies man is all charm and silky smoothness, Ethan Hunt is more of an everyday guy. It may not be pretty and he may not be able to get laid in every country he goes to, but he gets the job done. Bond has his trademark PP7 and a license to kill. Hunt mostly uses a dart gun for which he is authorized to ... er ... disable enemies ... uh ... temporarily.
It's pretty much the same with the two games, Goldeneye and Mission: Impossible. Goldeneye is smooth, sophisticated, and still one of the best games for the N64. On the other hand, Mission: Impossible is a little rough around the edges and much less refined, though it's still a decent game that gets the job done.
As Ethan Hunt (point man for the IMF), you take on a variety of missions, such as sabotaging enemy equipment, rescuing hostages, and stealing sensitive information. Aside from skeletal plot elements, the game itself has very little to do with the movie, and if you have a good attention to detail the game retains movie humor. There are two difficulty settings: Possible and Impossible. Much like Goldeneye, the more difficult setting means you take more damage from enemies as well as added tasks you need to do to accomplish the mission.
Unlike Goldeneye, this is not a one-man show. Various team members accompany you on missions, but most of the time their role is limited to item exchanges. However, there are two levels where your team provides sniper support for you which is very, very cool. Donning disguises is also a rather groovy part of the game (just don't go tooling around with your piece still in your hand as the guards get mighty suspicious of an armed repairman). Stuff like this makes Mission: Impossible stand out from Goldeneye, but Infogrames needed to take these innovations a step further to make a truly distinguishable game.
Don't expect to go around with high-tech weaponry mowing down platoons of soldiers. Shooting is very limited in this game and most of the time you don't actually kill anyone. Don't count on shooting your way out of a jam either, as one wrong move will send guards to arrest you before you even have a chance to whip out your piece. Awright, cut it out. I know what you're thinking...(Uh, that's what we were going to say, Tim...- Ed.).
Although Mission: Impossible puts strong emphasis on espionage tactics, some of the puzzles you are required to solve are rather obtuse, resembling mindless busy work, while others are downright (forgive the pun) puzzling. You'll be muttering under your breath, "What the @!*#% else am I supposed to do?!" Frustration levels run high as some of the levels are large and one wrong move means starting the level over and repeating the same tasks ad nauseum.
Mission: Impossible looks a lot like the Star Wars SotE levels where you guide a jumping, running, shooting Dash around; all third-person perspective with the camera behind and slightly above the character. In order to accurately shoot enemies, you have to press and hold down the right shoulder button which puts you in the first-person view and also brings up target crosshairs. In fact, there's a lot about Mission: Impossible that will remind you of other games...Ethan's death cry and the grunts he makes after wading in a pool filled with toxic waste sound as if they were lifted straight from DOOM. Puzzles are reminiscent of easy Tomb Raider levels where you run, jump, or climb to some out-of-the-way places to flip switch A to open Door B. Not a whole lot of originality here.
Comparisons to Goldeneye are inevitable so I'll address some of them here. Although the gameplay in MI emphasizes espionage far more heavily than Goldeneye, it is still heavily reminiscent of the Bond game in other areas. Take for example this scenario: You're inside a train, moving from car to car taking out enemies hiding behind crates and in various compartments until you reach the boss at the end who has a nasty surprise waiting for you. In this case, instead of using your watch laser to escape, you have to figure out how to open a safe to disarm a bomb. Or this: you have to protect the female protagonist (a computer expert, no less) who becomes your main love interest and the camera slowly circles around the two of you sucking face when the game ends.
The graphics look a little better than Goldeneye; player faces are a lot smoother, but everything else looks about the same. Music consists of various arrangements of the Mission: Impossible title theme (just like you know what) with some mood music thrown in here and there. But if it looks like Goldeneye and it sounds like Goldeneye, it ain't necessarily Goldeneye.
You'll figure this out the first time you try to take out a baddie with a point-blank headshot. There is about a two second lag from the time you fire your shot to the time your target drops dead from the fatal blow. Lame. It's a good thing this game emphasizes areas other than combat because the shooting in this game flat out sucks.
If you're itching for some more head-shooting, double-fisted RPC-90 Goldeneye action, I'd suggest you wait for Perfect Dark, as Mission: Impossible will leave you impossibly unfulfilled. Granted, a superb offering like Goldeneye is a tough act to follow, and while Infogrames' valiant effort falls a bit short of the mark, it is still a decent game worth some of your time.