Review: Mission Impossible: Operation Surma

Maybe it's the time of the year that makes people want to sneak around quietly, maybe not, but stealth games are falling from the skies. These months you're able to sneak through Rogue Ops, Metal Gear Solid: Twin Snakes or even Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow if you own more consoles than just a Gamecube. Now you can add Mission: Impossible - Operation Surma to the list, don't get excited yet though. If there was no Mission and no Impossible in this title this game would most likely go by unnoticed, and even with the license it's not one of the hottest games around. Mission Impossible may be a big player in stealth-movie land, in the game world Metal Gear Solid and Splinter Cell are the titles that turn heads. Mission Impossible tries to appeal to a broader audience by being more simple than other stealth games. Did pull this off succesfully? Read the rest of this review to find out just that.


No Cruise, DePalma or Woo here:

In Operation Surma you get to sneak around as Ethan Hunt as you'd expect, but not as the Ethan Hunt we know from the M:I movies. That's because Tom Cruise doesn't like the idea of being played with, he's never allowed developers to use his likeness in games. Because of this we get an Ethan Hunt that looks more like Sam Fisher than Tom Cruise, he's more muscular an has a lower voice than the Ethan Hunt we're familiar with. Cruise or not, Hunt still works for the Impossible Mission Force. This time his spying skills are needed to stop a dangerous Eastern European dictator who's about to get his hands on a deadly virus. The story is filled with villains speaking in Russian accents and other spy cliches, it's nothing like the plot twist-heavy stories we know from the M:I movies. Apart from Ethan Hunt there are a few other important characters on both sides, but none of them are done well enough to keep you interested in the story longer than a few cutscenes.


Gadgets galore:

One of Operation Surma's best features is it's wide selection of spy gadgets. Ethan starts out with just a few, but his collection grows as you advance in the game. All the usual stealth gadgets are here (night vision, binoculars, electronic lockpick), as well as a few more fresh ones (face-masks, tracking device). One of the most spectaculair ones is the micro-cord. It allows you to climb onto high ledges, but also lets you hang from grapple points and hack into computer à la Tom Cruise. The gadgets are nice, but the puzzles you need them for are too simple to really enjoy them. In most situations you'll know what gadget to use immediately and when you don't, pulling out a few and trying them out usually does the trick. In fact, the only times you'll find yourself running around without any idea what to do are when your instructions weren't clear enough.


Alarm buttons:

Another thing that makes the game a lot easier than most other stealth games is the A.I. Most enemies in M:I have standard patrol routes which are easy to avoid, once in a while one of them sees you and starts an alarm though. Usually in a stealth game this is when you get swamped with enemies carying much more firepower than you, usually this ends with you being quite dead. In M:I you're far from dead if the alarm sounds, you just run over to an alarm deactivation button and press it. A friendly voice then tells all the guards the alarm has been deactivated so there's no need for searching and shooting. You can even pull this off right after you ran around a corner with a guard chasing you, if he still sees you after the alarm is off you can easily dispose of him with Ethan's punch combos. One of the few places where it does get difficult is when you're forbidden to set off any alarms at all, because enemies have the nasty tendency to see you right through corners and doors at times.


Controls & Cameras:

Another thing makes the game unnecessarily difficult in places is the way you control Ethan. The controls are simpler than most stealth games, but some of the buttons you have to press to make Ethan do his thing are illogical. B is the button that uses the item you've equipped, so it would be intuitive to use B to select and equip an item, but press B while scrolling through your items and you stop scrolling without equipping anything. Operation Surma also requires you to press the Z button in combination with other buttons at times, which feels wrong and probably could've been avoided easily by making more buttons context sensitive. On a positive note, sneaking around works pretty well, although the camera can get in the way sometimes. If the camera is cooperating well it shows you nice things though. The models look pretty good, especially Ethan himself, and the locations you sneak around in are pretty varied and look good. It's almost a shame the camera's so close on Ethan most of the time, it would be nice to see less of his shoulders and more of anything else.


Final Say:

To be fair, Operation Surma is not a bad game. It's just hard to be impressed by a nice looking spy game with an uninteresting story and dumb A.I. when there are games like Metal Gear Solid, Splinter Cell and James Bond: Everything or Nothing. If you desperately want to play more stealth during the wait between Metal Gear Solid and the new Splinter Cell you should give M:I a go, but in any other case it's not really worth the trouble. If you're still interested you can always rent the game, it's not too long so finishing it should only take you a couple of days.

N-Europe Final Verdict

Same thing, different spy

  • Gameplay4
  • Playability3
  • Visuals4
  • Audio3
  • Lifespan2
Final Score



Lots of gadgets
Diverse locations


Not the brightest A.I
Sloppy camera

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