Sometimes I wonder why some games turn out the way they do. Why do games such as Mario become so popular, and did the people behind it know they had something good in the can? (NB: I know I may get grilled for this, but I’m talking Mario circa before he became 3D.) And what goes on behind the scenes of a terrible game? Did the makers of Shaq-Fu, Superman 64 or Big Rigs know they were creating a shitstain on the proverbial underpants of society? Were they sitting in their office blocks rubbing their hands together, awaiting the multitude of suicides which would follow the release of their game? Or is it just a ghastly mistake….
Metal Gear Solid is a game-marketer’s dream. It practically made a whole subgenre on its own: stealth games. And soon after its resounding success, more with MGS1 than the original 2D ones, stealth started to be incorporated into games, and even MGS-like games have been released, with Splinter Cell being the most successful and best. But they are very, very different games. None of the games, however, have faller further from the mark than Mission: Impossible – Operation Surma.
Your mission, should you choose to use an overused catchphrase, is to save the world from some madman who is about to do something that no one gives a shit about. And, of course, they send you in at the last possible moment to do something about it.
Right off the bat, this game is short. Really short. Like five missions short. But, that doesn’t decrease the time you need to complete the game, simply for is infinitely frustrating gameplay. You will play every mission around 17 times in order to finish it, often dying within the first 38 seconds because you can’t see more than two metres in front of you. You will be killed, taken to the hospital, declared dead, sent to the mortuary, grieved over by family and friends, farewelled in a funeral and buried in the ground long, long before you even see the person who was shooting at you, or who you were supposed to sneak around.
And the distance the guards can see to makes taking two steps impossible without setting off an alarm. It’s as if they got hawks instead of humans to be the guards. People sometimes complain about how MGS’s guards can’t see more than five metres in front of them, but this is just taking things too far. I was sitting in the shadows once on the side of a carpark, and the guard on the other side of this large expanse fired the alarm. Heaven help me if I wasn’t hiding in the shadows; someone might have seen me through the bevy of lead pipes and crates I was hiding behind!
And the failure conditions are brutal. Once spotted, if you do not reach a handy dandy alarm disabler before 0.00023 seconds, YOU FAIL. Now there’s a project. Actually, its only 30 seconds, but it sure doesn’t feel like it, considering that it takes you half the time just to hack into the alarm-turner-offer to stop the incessant wail.
To imagine the game is fairly simple. It borrows heavily from Splinter Cell, with a slight addition from MGS, and only very slight. For the most part it feels like a Splinter Cell game, that is, until it comes to combat. And it is terrible. Trying to fire the gun at someone is like trying to teach a cow to fire almonds out of its ass. No matter where you shoot, it seems like the bullets end up being thrown in the complete opposite direction. But to do anything in this game requires complete contortion of the hand in order to do half of the moves. I would go so far as to say a second person may be required….
This Mission Impossible game sure lives up to its name—it’s fucking impossible. Well, not impossible, but very, very difficult. And not by the difficulty of the game’s scenarios, more by the controls, overly punishing failing conditions and frustrating gameplay. It’s not necessarily a bad game, but its difficulty and the sheer frustration could cause you to begin to cut yourself, or perhaps jump in front of a train. Even if this game becomes a breeze for you by some extreme divine intervention, it will not last the time it takes for you to make a cup of tea. Save your hard-earned cash, and spend it on some more useful items. Like expired meat. Or a DVD of Matt LeBlanc’s Finest Moments.