I've played the first M:I game for the PS1, and that was okay, yet showed great room for improvement. When I heard Operation Surma was coming around, I really wanted to see what the game had to offer. Little did I know, I was in for a big disappointment.
The gameplay mechanics are okay...for about the first 10 minutes. You're expected to keep your eye on the radar AND watch out for what's ahead of you, but you can't do both, now can you? The radar works very much like MGS's Soliton radar, except in does not tell you where enemies are stationed or their field of vision, leading to easy frustration. You have no idea if an enemy can see you or not. Sometimes, it doesn't even matter. If you hide behind a wall out of enemy vision, he will still see you, regardless, often making you fail your mission miserably. So, to summarize, the stealth mechanics of this game are HORRENDOUS. Why is it that every time a certain game company attempts a stealth game, Konami always kicks that game off the shelves with Metal Gear Solid? Because Konami knows what they're doing. Atari hasn't made 1 decent game since Driver 2. Not even Enter the Matrix was all that interstellar.
Also, control is clunky, and control interface is just not worth the bother. There's no telling how many times I told Ethan to stop grabbing the frigging ladder every time I try and run away from it. Also, bad guys have a tendency to swarm in LITERALLY out of thin air, meaning that this is one of those games in which pop-up infects the game if you turn the camera away from a certain spot. That's how enemies constantly get the drop on you. And every time an alarm goes off, you either fail the mission, or spend 30 seconds trying to hunt down the alarm shut off module, just so the alarm can be raised again for no real reason. It's a painful experience. There's also a skydiving mission that requires you to dodge missiles while getting to your target. Thanks to the clunkiness and an awkward control scheme, getting shot with missiles in mid-air is as easy as A-B-C. There were LOTS of good ideas going for this game, but they were badly implemented...just what you would expect from Atari. They did it with Enter the Matrix, T3, and Driver...and here we are.
Now that I got the bad out of the way, it's time for the good. Missions are thrilling and give you that feeling that tells you that this is good CIA training. The classic "repel down the down the room via rope and hack the computer" mission has been retained, but sadly, I only wanted to do it once. It's only a marvel if it only has to be done once, not 15 times. Also, the gadgets are superb and match Ethan Hunt's skill as a CIA agent. Surely, Splinter Cell does it better, even though Splinter Cell had its ups and downs. Also, lighting effects work acceptionally well (play the Silent Hill games for REAL realistic lighting effects), and the story is followable and acceptable, even though I'm getting tired of blackmailing just so the bad guy can wipe out an entire civilization for no reason. Come on, Atari, we're getting sick of this "I'm going to take over the world!" nonsense!
Another good thing is that the Mission: Impossible theme song is back with a vengeance. It's been remixed to keep that "improving" feeling alive. Mission: Impossible fans will enjoy this remix, and should definitely but on loud TV volume.
Also, one problem is that the game is TOO SHORT. You only pass through 5 missions and beat the game. I was expecting party missions or driving and track-shooting missions. Instead, you spend hours losing and passing missions, and I got no satisfaction from the ending. This is an age of end-game bonuses, and every game should have extras unlocked for beating the game. All 5 missions are infiltrate, do your business, and out-filtrate. Repeat for about 4 more times. When I beat the game, I looked at the end credits and said "THAT'S IT??!!"
If you want a longer, less trial-and-error mission-based game with more action, pick up a James Bond game. However, if you believe that everything I just talked about can be considered, get this game. I'm just warning you before you drop your controller and start stomping on it.
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