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Mission Impossible: Operation Surma

Platform(s): Arcade, Game Boy Advance, GameCube, Nintendo DS, PC, PSOne, PSP, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Wii, Xbox, Xbox 360
Genre: Action


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Xbox Review - 'Mission Impossible: Operation Surma'

by Jordan Van Nest on Jan. 6, 2004 @ 1:33 a.m. PST

Genre : Action Surma
Publisher: Atari
Developer: Paradigm
Release Date: December 9, 2003

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Good morning Ethan. Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to grab a copy of the newly released Mission Impossible: Operation Surma game, and get to work. The new stealth based game from Atari serves to pick up where the highly successful Mission Impossible movies left off. With an all new storyline and some unforgettable characters, the game sets out to provide an action-packed experience for gamers everywhere. So does this sizzling spectacle meet up to expectations? It will take a stealthy agent to uncover the answer.

Mission Impossible comes out of the gates boasting an all new storyline, as well as a cast of easily recognizable characters. Fans of the Mission Impossible movies will be delighted to discover that while the storyline has nothing to do with the movies, most of the characters are still represented fairly well. You play as Ethan Hunt, a cunning field agent for the IMF, who, with the help of a small team of highly trained operatives, takes on missions with unimaginable risks. One of the members of your team is Luther Stickel, a character that fans of the movie will be familiar with. Ving Rhames (the actor who plays Stickel in the movies) lended his voice to the game, allowing for a more realistic setting. In addition, Billy Baird, your transportation expert, will also be at your disposal. Two new cast members are included in the game, they are Spelvin(a con artist) and Curry(an agent new to the IMF). While obviously your team contains some of the best trained in the business, you will need all of the help you can get if you are to complete the seemingly impossible missions set before you. Each mission further adds to the evolving storyline, which eventually comes to a killer climax. Fans of the movie franchise will definitely not be disappointed.

Playing this game for the first time brought one thought to my mind. Splinter Cell. As I continued to play this game I began to realize that almost everything in the game is modeled after Splinter Cell. First off, the controls are basically the exact same. Every button in Splinter Cell is the exact same for Mission Impossible. I was fairly disappointed that Atari felt the need to even copy details such as pipe climbing, sneaking, etc. On a good note however, I was happy that in some cases the development team took ideas from Splinter Cell and built on them. For instance, the idea of using a guard to open a hand or retinal scanner, even if they're dead, was an expanded idea from Splinter Cell. I also liked many of the unique features that Mission Impossible brought to the table. Features such as the alarm system. During the game, if somehow the alarm is tripped, you have a limited amount of time to find a guard station and turn the alarm off. I also liked the unique feature of using "masks" to help complete certain objectives. This was definitely a good move to include in the game, as it help set it apart from Splinter Cell. Another aspect of the game that I enjoyed was the variety of different gadgets at your disposal. Ethan is equipped with everthing from a tranquilizer gun, to a scanner which can see through walls. I thought this was another way that the game helped distinguish itself from Splinter Cell.

There were several features unique to the game, but one of my favorites was the combat system. In most stealth games, combat is discouraged, and thus there is usually a very basic system in place. In Mission Impossible however, you can string together a combo of kicks and punches that will leave the surprised opponent on the ground and out of the picture. In addition, there is a slow motion take out feature. If you are sneaky enough, you can sneak behind a guard and press a button to perform a take out move. These are very impressive looking and I thought were a good addition to the game.

As I said before, there are many elements which closely resemble Splinter Cell. For instance, even shooting a gun looks the same! This would still be fairly annoying if the features were as well done as in Splinter Cell, but sadly, many are worse. This game just appears to me to be an attempt at cloning a great game. That aside, the overall gameplay and storyline still seems to stack up fairly nicely.

However, as with any game, Mission Impossible has its problems. First off, this game seems just too similar to some of the stealth titles before it. Rather then come up with an original system, the development team instead decided to go with a standard "stealth genre" game, and follow the lead of many games before it. Another problem I found while playing the game was that at many points, it is very unclear as what to do next. You may be left with an objective, but have no idea of how to complete it. I thought this was very annoying, as it wastes a large amount of time just trying to figure out what to do next. For instance, in the first level I was asked to photograph two different objects. I was standing in a courtyard and could clearly see the first object in front of me- a large communications tower. After snapping a picture, I was instructed to photograph the second object, which was the control to the tower. After searching around for at least 10 min for the object, I became frusterated and began to snap random pictures of things in the hope that I would get lucky. Many pictures later, I finally received word that I had completed my objective, but I had no idea how.

There were many other instances like this, and I realized that one of the main faults of this game is that there is a huge amount of trial and error required. Not only are the objectives sometimes hard to find, but guards are not shown on your mini-map, so surprises can ultimately lurk around every corner. This can get to be annoying in itself, as the last thing you want to do is to be attacked from a guard you didn't see, and have to start over again. Many of the parts in this game are definitely difficult. The only thing that will get you through is determination, and time. With enough trial and error, you will be able to successfully complete this game.

Graphically, I thought the game was fairly good. I thought the overall contrast of the game could have used some work however. Initially, I had to adjust the contrast drastically just to be able to see Ethan and in order to move around. This in turn, brightened everything in the game, making it very unbelievable that someone could hide in the "shadows" (since there were no shadows then). I liked the detail that went into the characters. It did help to connect the movies to the game, and this should please most fans. Also I thought the levels were all well done and well planned out.

There were certain aspects of the sound that I liked, and others that I did not. First, I thought it was a plus that Ving Rhames voice was used in the game. It really helped to tie in the movies. However, I was disappointed that Ethan Hunt in the game sounds absolutely nothing like Tom Cruise. I think something should have been done about this. There should have at least been an attempt to find a voice that was similar. I also enjoyed the music, and I thought that it really added to the overall atmosphere of the game.

I have mixed feelings about the game. While Operation Surma has definitely "borrowed" more than a few ideas from Splinter Cell, I still think that the game does a good job of adding on to previous ideas and expanding them. In this way, the game creates an experience that I believe is unique. If you were a fan of Splinter Cell, I think you should check this one out. It may be just what you need to stop your stealth cravings.

Score : 7.4/10

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