On March 30th 1973, after a seven year run, the show ‘Mission Impossible’ ran it’s final episode. It was a popular show to be sure, but it wasn’t an icon of the time the way other shows were. ‘M*A*S*H’ had premiered the year before, ‘Hawaii Five-O’ was hitting its stride, and ‘Columbo’ was continuing to dampen the panties of housewives across America.. It had it’s fans, but it was destined to go the way of ‘Dark Shadows’, ‘Bonanza’, and whatever else you remember your Nana watching on late night TV after her third scotch.
Then 23 years later, a bunch of producers had a conversation that I can only imagine went like this:
“Hey Steve! What was that show your Nonna always fell asleep to?”
“You mean ‘The Carol Burnett Show’?”
“Does it look like my dick fell off? No! The other one!”
“You mean ‘Mission Impossible’?
“Yeah that one! I say we reboot it.”
“I don’t know. I don’t think that’ll go over well.”
“Nonsense! We’ll hire the guy who did all those gangster movies to direct it and throw that guy from ‘Interview With the Vampire’ in there!”
“You mean Brian DePalma and Tom Cruise?”
“I was thinking Martin Scorsese and Brad Pitt, but sure!”
“Will anyone even remember ‘Mission Impossible?”
“Who cares! We’ll remake the theme song with guitars and market it as an action movie!”
“It seems like you’re just throwing a bunch of weird shit together and hoping it works. Won’t all that confuse people?”
“It’s the 90s! That’s what we do!
Then the movie was release and the plot confused people because it was a spy movie and not an action movie. That being said, we still got a video game out of it.
HERE’S WHAT I REMEMBER:
I feel like if this game came out two years prior, I’d remember it as ground breaking. As is, I remember this game feeling like Goldeneye’s drunken, fuck up of a cousin. Moving around was clunky, the camera fought you if you tried to move it, and combat made me feel more like a toddler waving around a gun than a highly capable secret agent.
That being said, it’s not like I hated ‘Mission Impossible’. I have fond memories playing this game, though as I reflect on these memories in the movie theater of my mind, I don’t know why they’re so good. It’s like having the same nostalgic intensity for ‘A Kid in King Arthur’s Court’ as ‘Jurassic Park’. It makes no sense and is clearly wrong. And yet, I do remember having fun with this game.
Compared to other Spy games (read: Goldeneye), I remember that this game actually made you feel like a spy. For example, not all missions involved shooting everyone in a face and/or nuts (Oddjob, slappers only) in order to complete. Sure there was plenty of running and gunning, but it was as refreshing to figure out how to navigate a cocktail party as it was using an SMG to face fuck a Russian with bullets. In the same vein, ‘Mission Impossible’ used unique gadgets to a higher degree than any previous game. There weren’t just some token knick knacks used to open doors or break open grates (basically the same thing), they were pieces to a puzzle that allowed you to infiltrate as well as assassinate. To be fair, I only remember the exploding gum, which was used to open a door or a pipe or something, but I swear there were more!
HOW DOES IT HOLD UP?
Why the fuck does this game go out of it’s way to not allow me to look around?!?!
I shouldn’t have to stop every three steps and turn my body each way to make sure that there aren’t any guards around. That’s not something a spy does. That’s something a cartoon baby does before sneaking out at nap time. As if that wasn’t enough, the camera will change angles suddenly, throwing your vision to a completely useless direction. Remember the part in ‘Metal Gear Solid’ where just as you were about to grab a guard then camera spun around and forced you to look at something completely useless like a toilet? No you didn’t because that’s fucking stupid. ‘Mission Impossible’ doesn’t care though. If you’re running away from someone shooting at you and there’s a river nearby, it’s going to make sure that you look at that fucking river.
Camera angles are only half the problem. The real meat of this shit sandwich are the controls. When the camera closes in on the character, maneuvering the character is passible. It’s a little stiff, like playing with an action figure made out of broken glass, but you can move from point A to point B without wanting to punch a baby. However when the camera pulls away to give a more “action” oriented view, oh boy, let that baby punching commence. You move like a drunk trying to watch hockey; Ethan Hunt slides one way and you try to keep up, but once your vision slips, you hastily try to adjust, often leading to getting stuck on a building because you don’t know exactly where you’re facing.
I’ll give credit where credit is due by saying that it was trying to be more imaginative than it turned out. You’re supposed to find objects and cleverly deduce they ways you’re supposed to use them. Finding a unique way of using a tool should win the day, yet if you have a hard time controlling said tool, then it doesn’t matter. If you’re spinning in a chair while hanging a picture, you’re going to fuck up your walls. I should know, it’s happened. If you read my series up to now, you should know why (hint: booze). So while ‘Mission Impossible’ has an interesting concept and fun ideas, the execution went about as well as Lady Margaret Pole’s.