Mission: Impossible

a game by Ultra Soft, Infogrames, and Ocean

Platforms: NESNESNintendo 64Nintendo 64

Genres: Action, Adventure/RPG

Okay, I am not going to start this review off the same way as every other publication. Nope, I refuse to say the line. Anyone who is familiar with the Mission: Impossible television show or movie knows the line I am referring to. If you don't know what I am talking about you will just have to play the game and try to figure it out. You should have no problem since they say it in every cut scene. Anyway, for those of you who do know the line, you must also be familiar with Mission: Impossible so you know what to expect from the game; a spy adventure with a cast of characters that have a nose for trouble.

Mission: Impossible is an adventure game that will have you controlling your character through 20 levels of gameplay. There are plenty of weapons, destruction and death to be had but this game actually rewards for discreet operation instead of all out blasting. The interchangeable third and first person views will bring you up close and personal with the action. Your mission, should you choose...damn, I almost said the line.

Gameplay

This game is best described as a third person action adventure game similar to Tomb Raider 2. This means that for most of the game you will view your character from behind. One big thing that you will find different is the interchangeable first person perspective. This is used for aiming so you zoom in on your target or get a better shot by using the targeting crosshairs. The switch is easily performed by pressing the right shoulder button and boom, you are in the first person view. This feature is very similar to the sniper mode in MDK.

The game is mission and objective based. At the beginning of each mission you will receive a set of objectives that you must accomplish in order to succeed in your mission. The objectives are usually simple enough on a singular scale but combined together add up to a bit more of a challenge. These objectives range from locating items to destroying objects and everything in between. Some of your missions will require you to only complete two or three objectives while others have six or seven different objectives. This was one of the neater parts of the game because I never knew what I was going to have to do next.

Everyone who is familiar with the old show knows that a big part of the story revolved around the different high tech gadgets and weapons that were encountered. To begin with, the game has a communicator which is always on the screen and flashes when you have incoming messages or when you need to perform an action. These messages are constantly coming in and helping you in your mission. You will come across numerous weapons ranging from a standard gun to a poison dart shooter. I did find that I had weapons that I never used because the situation never arose or if I did use a particular weapon in the wrong situation, it would alert the authorities of my presence. This was both good and bad because if I found a weapon, I felt like I needed to use it. A lot of times the weapons could be used as a back up weapon but I still felt like it should serve more of a purpose.

One of the other gadgets that you will use in the game is probably one of the coolest gadgets in any game. You will find a face alteration device that allows you to rearrange your face to look like another person. A perfect example of this is that one of your objectives is to find the head of security, shoot him and then use the face alteration device to change your face to look like the head of security. Now you can walk around the level without raising any suspicion because they all think that you are the head of security. There are a number of different instances like this where you will alter your appearance.

Along with the gadgets, one of the best parts of this game is the fact that you will have to use stealth and covert action to achieve your missions at times. It will not always be best to whip out your guns and start firing. You will find that hiding behind boxes and crates could actually be better then busting a cap in someone's ass. This is going to be hard for most game players and it will require some discipline because we have grown accustom to the old see it-shoot it mentality. There are actually instances where shooting will just alert the authorities and you will be swarmed with guards. This was a really nice change.

Unfortunately all is not well in Mission: Impossible land. My first complaint with the game is that the objectives were too easy. I would usually stumble across my objective without really looking too hard. If I actually had to search for it I would just look at my radar screen in the top corner and follow the flashing light to lead me right to it. The point I am getting at is that they really did not leave much room for you to actually have to think on your own. Another example of this is that a lot of times you will find an object that you know you will need to use somewhere. All you really need to do is try to use it and it will tell you exactly where you need to go to use it. Once again, not a whole lot of room for thinking things out on your own.

The second complaint I have about the game is that the replay value is pretty low. Once you complete the game (which should not take too terribly long) you can play through on a harder skill level but that is it. You will really have no motivation to go back and replay the levels again. This game would have been great if it had a random level generator or had two or three random missions per levels. This would have given some motivation to go back and play through again. This is not a major gripe but some people really like to play through games multiple times.

Graphics

Mission: Impossible has been blasted by critics because of the poor graphics. I personally did not find them to be that bad. They were very functional yet not spectacular. One of my judging criteria when it comes to graphics is to ask myself if there was ever an object that I was not able to determine what it was. If I answered yes then there was a problem. In this case, I was always able to tell what the different objects were and never found myself scratching my head. One thing that did bother me a little was the fact that the enemies all pretty much looked the same on each level. All of the guards looked the same which I thought was pretty weak. Sure, they are guards and all guards uniforms look the same but it would have been a nice touch to vary the height of them.

Bottom Line

If you are looking for a decent action game to play through one time, Mission: Impossible is worth a look. I really thought that it was a neat idea to make killing a second or third option in some situations instead of blazing guns at all times. I think that the game was a bit too structured and finding the objectives was made to be too easy. Once you locate an objective it will be easy to find again if you die during the level or if you want to play through again. I will say this, the game was pretty fun to play through that first time and I was on the edge of my seat waiting to see what would happen next. You could do a whole lot worse than this game but at $60, you may wish for a little more.

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Mission: Impossible Downloads

Nintendo 64 Mission: Impossible download
  • Manufacturer: Ultra
  • Machine: NES

Jeremy Pettit of Little Falls, Minnesota, was nice enough to pass on some codes for this game. For Area 2, type in HMPR; for Area 3, type in KMVW; for Area 4, input XDGJ; for Area 5, type in TVJL; and for Area 6, the code is QBYZ. Thanks, Jeremy.

reggie posted a review
  • Manufacturer: ULTRA
  • Machine: Nintendo Entertainment System

The screen is black as night...and then, the darkness are interrupted by the strike of a match. A shrill musical note wavers, as if holding its breath. A fuse is lit, and the pounding theme song begins....

No, you're not watching the popular (and recently revived) Mission: Impossible TV show, you're playing Ultra's Mission: Impossible for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to rescue the eminent scientist Dr. 0, and his secretary, who have been kidnapped by a ruthless terrorist organization known as the Sinister Seven. As an agent of the Impossible Mission Force (IMF), you'll battle your way from Moscow to Cyprus with nary a pause to catch your breath. You can control one of three characters (Max, Grant or Nicholas), and you have the ability to change identities at any time.

Interestingly, all the game's scenarios are displayed from above, giving you a bird's eye view of the action. Your agent is seen as a head between a pair of shoulders, and you can see his feet sticking out when he walks.

It's an odd effect, and it takes a while to adjust to the unique perspective. Fortunately, the angle proves to be effective and gives a sense of realism lacking in games that give you an unobstructed side view.

When the agent you're controlling speaks to another character in the game, a message window shows a front view of that character's face, which helps to keep you involved on a more personal level. You'll also zip through a pair of shoot-'em-up sequences (speedboating and skiing) that give the game an extra "kick". However, if you're turned off by difficult games, you might want to try this one before you pick it up for keeps. It's pretty tough, though your character does have a lot of freedom to move around, and that keeps things from getting too frustrating.

The music is excellent; Ultra seems to know how to squeeze the choicest sounds out of the NES. The drum and percussion sounds are particularly noteworthy, adding a depth to the melodies that reflects the powerful seriousness of your mission. You can sense the mood with your eyes closed!

Mission: Impossible is guaranteed to raise a few eyebrows among those who criticize video-game violence. There's no bloodshed, but the IMF agents are completely merciless in their attempts to retrieve Dr. O., turning a rescue mission into an international rampage. Max carries a rifle and doesn't think twice about using it, even when enemies' backs are turned. Similarly, Nicholas whips his boomerang at anyone who even looks suspicious. Grant has no weapons other than sleeping-gas bombs, but he serves up a mean knuckle sandwich, which proves to be a painfully direct method of dealing with his opponents.

If one of your agents should slay an innocent bystander in the street scenes, a police helicopter will detain that agent until the next level. It should be comforting to see the game exhibit some type of social conscience, but this "punishment" amounts to little more than a light slap on the wrist. Of course, it doesn't help to see those same helpless pedestrians being randomly and brutally mowed down by your adversaries' speeding automobiles - and if your agent gets hit by a vehicle, he will be sent flying through the air, screaming in agonizing pain!

Thankfully, the vicious action is not meant to distract you from the game's basic concept. Video-game veterans should be able to look beyond the violent nature of Mission: Impossible; there's a great game hidden behind all that bone-crushing business.

reggie posted a review
  • Versions: Amiga, Apple II, Atari ST, Commodore 64, IBM PC
  • Theme: Strategy

Professor Elvin Atombender, seen last in the cult classic Impossible Mission (Epyx), is back!

The word is that old Elvin is about to commit suicide. No one would care, of course, except that he plans to take the rest of the planet with him. Turns out his computers have penetrated some ultra-secret government launch codes, and the Prof. is now capable of starting World War III.

The Mission

Enter the player, who must move through the eight perimeter towers of Elvin's lair, then into the core tower and its computer-control room, via the core tower's express elevator, where he must disable the launch sequence.

The only way to enter the elevator is to play the musical sequence which acts as its trigger. This is done by locating the safes inside the perimeter towers, blowing them up with time bombs and collecting the musical notes within. These notes must then be assembled, through a process of trial and error, on the player's tape cassette deck.

The Problems

Here are the elements that stand between you and the successful completion of the IM2 scenario:

  1. Time: You have eight hours to reach the core tower control room and disable the launch computer. Time extensions are sometimes discovered in the course of room searches.
  2. Robots: Any of six classes of robots will be encountered throughout the complex. Know your robots! See more about the robots below.

There isn't much one can do about time, obviously, but there are some points to keep in mind:

Don't continue searching a tower once you have collected the pas scode numbers, unless you're low on command icons or need a time extension.

The Robots

After a while, the distinctions among the six types of robot become very obvious. The basic Sentry type is by far the most common and is easily distinguishable by its antenna-like plasma gun and single wheel. The Sentry periodically lashes out, scorpion-style, with a lethal burst of plasma energy.

Sentries have their weaknesses, however. Although some respond to the presence of the player-character, others move in fixed patterns and invariably stop at certain points. Some don't move at all. It is also possible to time the plasma bursts since a Sentry must have a recharging period after each discharge.

Sometimes a Sentry positions itself right next to an object you'll wish to search. Wait for the Sentry to unleash a burst of plasma energy to gauge how close your player-character can safely get. It is then possible, if you're careful, to dart just inside plasma range and search while the Sentry recharges.

Minebots and Pestbots look identical and both are only minor annoyances. The Pestbot is essentially innocuous. Its worst failing is a tendency to ride around aimlessly on lifts. The Minebot travels about laying mines which must, of course, be avoided.

Squatbots are basically springs which the player can use as a stepping stone or a launch pad - the Squatbot periodically uncoils and will propel anyone standing on it into the air. Be careful, though: Squatbots will sometimes squash your player-character against a low ceiling.

Bashbots look similar to Suicidebots, except the Bashbot has a single claw and the Suicidebot has two. Like the Minebots and Pestbots, they move on treads. When the Bashbot encounters a human being, it will relentlessly track him down and smash him against the nearest wall.

Suicidebots are the Prof's kamikaze automatons. When it detects the presence of an intruder, the Suicidebot makes for the nearest ledge and dives off, taking the intruder with it, if possible.

It is fairly easy to lure a Suicidebot to its demise, but it may be necessary to sacrifice a life to do so. Once a Suicidebot is cleared from a room, it does not return.

There are some situations where there is no other way around or past a robot but to use an electric-plug command icon to disable all robots in the room. Use these command icons sparingly, however, as they are the most valuable weapon you possess.

General Hints

You will occasionally come to an opening that is too small for your player-character to walk through. In this case, have him bend down first, then initiate a jump.

A successful leap may require tremendous precision. Even on a tiny ledge, a player-character may be positioned in such a way that he will leap onto any of several nearby platforms. A mere fraction of an inch can be the difference.

Never leave a safe unblown. You may not pass that way again. If, however, the safe is in an inaccessible position or you do not possess the required electric plug, time bomb or mine, move on to the next room and obtain what is needed, then return to the safe.

When all else fails, make sure there are no platforms in the room. If so, use one of the platform-reset command icons and see if that won't move the platform to a position from which you can access the desired object.

Finally, if you're having problems moving the horizontal lifts, check your documentation. Some computer systems (such as the Atari ST) use keyboard commands to access these, and no amount of joystick manipulation will succeed.

The fate of the world rests in your hands. Keep a cool head and a steady hand. We're counting on you, Ace!

reggie posted a review

A dreadful disappointment considering the time spent on it. Pitiful visuals and stupid illogical puzzles ruin a potentially great license.

reggie posted a review

After years of waiting, horrendous Al. a clunky engine and jerky controls lets Mission down badly. Promising, but poorly executed.

reggie posted a review

Painfully average as it was on the N64, Mission Impossible sold by the truckload - well over a million copies, in fact The combination of stealthy spying and a lead character that looked like the love child of Tom Cruise, John Travolta and a warthog was enough to persuade plenty of people to splash the cash.

This Game Boy version is an altogether different beast. The locations are completely different and it plays much more like an arcade game than a spy sim. You still have to avoid being seen or shooting the wrong people, although the guards wander around in set patterns rather than actively seek you out The mission objectives can be a little obscure, but it's the equal of the N64 version as far as plot and variety are concerned. Best of all, there's a built-in personal organiser which you can use to send messages to other Mission Impossible owners, store addresses, or even operate your TV or any other remote control appliance via the infrared port. What a top gadget to have in a secret agent game!

reggie posted a review

Three years in the making-and this is the best they could do?

Don't believe the hype. Mission: Impossible is not the revolutionary showcase for artificial intelligence that its original programmers intended, nor the combination of action and espionage that the revised brief promised. Despite that, there's still hope that it might provide some entertainment. Isn't there?

Mission: Impossible follows, vaguely, the plot of the 1995 film of the same name. Impossible Mission Force agent Ethan Hunt (a bit of rhyming slang for you there) is set up by a mole in his own organisation, and has to prove his innocence and unmask the traitor through all manner of daring feats that involve rubber masks and crawling through conveniently oversized ventilation ducts.

The action moves from a submarine base in the former Soviet Union, to the fictional country of Sloborskaia, then in, under and over the headquarters of the CIA, before a final confrontation with the mole on a TGV racing out of Waterloo station. (There's also a last mission back at the submarine base, but by then the real story's over, so who cares?)

Considering that the game has been in development for the best part of three years, you'd have every right to expect something genuinely spectacular. Unfortunately, you'd be disappointed.

Don't Choose To Accept It

Looking at Mission: Impossible, you could be forgiven for thinking that it was a first-generation N64 game. The dreaded N64 blur, which has recently been less and less in evidence as programmers get to grips with the machine, is back with a vengeance. Walking around the levels is like entering a world made of Fuzzy Felt - there isn't a dearly-defined surface to be found. Textures are repetitive and dull, and there's more fog on the outdoor levels than on the Tyne.

All this would be tolerable if the gameplay behind it was up to scratch. But it isn't. The control method is a major problem right from the start. Although it's similar to Goldeneye, the generally low frame rate makes it a lot more clumsy, and it's also very limiting. You can only sidestep when you're aiming a weapon, for example, which means a lot of infuriating stumbling back and forth in order to enter narrow spaces, and to stop you from doing anything that might affect the linear storyline, you can only perform certain actions at specific points. If you want to climb onto something that isn't vital to the story, you can't.

When you can perform an action, a flashing light on your on-screen communicator lets you know, but even this isn't as easy as it sounds. Ethan has to be positioned in exactly the right place to perform an action, and considering how awkward and inaccurate the controls are, this can get rather frustrating.

Mission: Illogical

The missions are, like Goldeneye, based around completing a series of objectives. Simple enough. However, in order to complete these objectives, you have to perform all manner of tasks, many of which are so illogical they'd make Mr Spock's head explode. In the embassy, for example, at one point you have to give a musical score to a piano player, for reasons too ludicrous to go into. The score is on a chair, and a man is sitting on it. Before the man sat down, it wasn't there. After he sits down, but before you talk to the piano player, it's not there either. So the man took the score from the piano, put it in his pocket, sat down, decided he was uncomfortable, took the score out and planted it under his backside? The hell?

This lack of thought is apparent throughout the game. The CIA Rooftop mission features a wire fence that forces Ethan to take a ridiculously long and dangerous route around the building - why couldn't he just climb it? Isn't he supposed to be some kind of top secret agent?- and an electric floor.

An electric floor, for God's sake! Why the hell would there be an electric floor on the roof of the CIA building? Why? Why? Why?

Because of the lack of logic, most levels end up as an infuriating trial-and-error trudge. You get so far, something you had no forewarning of happens, and the mission fails. You try again, this time knowing about one problem, and something else happens that blows the mission. It's as much fun as being stuck in a hot lift with a group of BO sufferers.

The worst example of this occurs when Ethan escapes from CIA interrogation. The puzzles here are so wilfully obscure, the game over screen so frequent, that you'll probably end up wanting to insert the cartridge into the programmers. Widthways.

Things aren't helped by the arbitrary way the game ends. On some levels, Ethan can have a gun thrust in his face but he'll carry on fighting, even if he's just taken a bullet in the eye. On other levels, though, all the opposition have to do is wave a weapon in Ethan's general direction and he'll fling up his arms in surrender faster than an Iraqi faced by a division of Challenger tanks. Now hold on a minute - if you're playing the part of a top spy, then it damn well should be up to you when you surrender!

Tom Snooze

The constraints of the mission prevent you from just going mental and mowing down the enemy in a giggling orgy of destruction, as you can in Goldeneye if you need to relieve some stress. As a result, most of the levels have minimal replay value - once completed, you're glad to see the back of them. Only a couple of missions - most notably the business with the snipers at Waterloo station - are interesting enough to bring players back for more, and even they're fairly weak compared to what other N64 games have to offer.

Brian De Palma's movie may have possessed plot holes you could drive a TGV through, but it was done with enough zip and visual flair to let audiences overlook its dodgy script. Mission: Impossible, the game, doesn't have zip or visual flair, so its numerous shortcomings aren't even disguised from the player. Ocean were doubtless hoping for comparisons with Goldeneye and Tomb Raider, but the game Mission: Impossible most closely resembles is Shadows Of The Empire - a motley assortment of subgames, none of which are especially good.

The original game design's AI might have been too complex to work on a console (nobody's even managed it yet on a PC with eight times as much memory to play with), but at least the programmers were ambitious enough to want to do something nobody had seen before. The revised, dumbed-down Mission: Impossible shows what happens when a project is dumped midway through and restarted almost from scratch to get something, anything, coded so the company can see a quick return on its considerable investment. Goldeneye showed that film licences can work superbly, but Mission: Impossible is a step back to the bad old days when the name was more important than the game - a practice that Ocean was supposed to have left well behind.

reggie posted a review

Fun in segments, hair-tearingly irritating in others. Not GoldenEye II. At all.

reggie posted a review

Don't believe the hype. Mission: Impossible is not the revolutionary showcase for artificial intelligence that its original programmers intended, nor the combination of action and espionage that the revised brief promised. Despite that, there's still hope that it might provide some entertainment. Isn't there?

Mission: Impossible follows, vaguely, the plot of the 1995 film of the same name. Impossible Mission Force agent Ethan Hunt (a bit of rhyming slang for you there) is set up by a mole in his own organisation, and has to prove his innocence and unmask the traitor through all manner of daring feats that involve rubber masks and crawling through conveniently oversized ventilation ducts.

The action moves from a submarine base in the former Soviet Union, to the fictional country of Sloborskaia, then in, under and over the headquarters of the CIA, before a final confrontation with the mole on a TGV racing out of Waterloo station. (There's also a last mission back at the submarine base, but by then the real story's over, so who cares?)

Considering that the game has been in development for the best part of three years, you'd have every right to expect something genuinely spectacular. Unfortunately, you'd be disappointed.

Don't Choose To Accept It looking at Mission: Impossible, you could be forgiven for thinking that it was a first-generation N64 game. The dreaded N64 blur, which has recently been less and less in evidence as programmers get to grips with the machine, is back with a vengeance. Walking around the levels is like entering a world made of Fuzzy Felt - there isn't a clearly-defined surface to be found. Textures are repetitive and dull, and there's more fog on the outdoor levels than on the Tyne.

All this would be tolerable if the gameplay behind it was up to scratch. But it isn't. The control method is a major problem right from the start. Although it's similar to Goldeneye, the generally low frame rate makes it a lot more clumsy, and it's also very limiting. You can only sidestep when you're aiming a weapon, for example, which means a lot of infuriating stumbling back and forth in order to enter narrow spaces, and to stop you from doing anything that might affect the linear storyline, you can only perform certain actions at specific points. If you want to climb onto something that isn't vital to the story, you can't.

When you can perform an action, a flashing light on your on-screen communicator lets you know, but even this isn't as easy as it sounds. Ethan has to be positioned in exactly the right place to perform an action, and considering how awkward and inaccurate the controls are, this can get rather frustrating.]

Mission: Illogical

The missions are, like Goldeneye, based around completing a series of objectives. Simple enough. However, in order to complete these objectives, you have to perform all manner of tasks, many of which are so illogical they'd make Mr Spock's head explode. In the embassy, for example, at one point you have to give a musical score to a piano player, for reasons too ludicrous to go into. The score is on a chair, and a man is sitting on it. Before the man sat down, it wasn't there. After he sits down, but before you talk to the piano player, it's not there either. So the man took the score from the piano, put it in his pocket, sat down, decided he was uncomfortable, took the score out and planted it under his backside? The hell!

This lack of thought is apparent throughout the game. The CIA Rooftop mission features a wire fence that forces Ethan to take a ridiculously long and dangerous route around the building - why couldn't he just climb it? Isn't he supposed to be some kind of top secret agent?- and an electric floor. An electric floor, for God's sake! Why the hell would there be an electric floor on the roof of the CIA building? Why? Why? Why?

Because of the lack of logic, most levels end up as an infuriating trial-and-error trudge. You get so far, something you had no forewarning of happens, and the mission fails. You try again, this time knowing about one problem, and something else happens that blows the mission. It's as much fun as being stuck in a hot lift with a group of BO sufferers.

The worst example of this occurs when Ethan escapes from CIA interrogation. The puzzles here are so wilfully obscure, the game over screen so frequent, that you'll probably end up wanting to insert the cartridge into the programmers. Widthways.

Things aren't helped by the arbitrary way the game ends. On some levels, Ethan can have a gun thrust in his face but he'll carry on fighting, even if he's just taken a bullet in the eye. On other levels, though, all the opposition have to do is wave a weapon in Ethan's general direction and he'll fling up his arms in surrender faster than an Iraqi faced by a division of Challenger tanks. Now hold on a minute - if you're playing the part of a top spy, then it damn well should be up to you when you surrender!

Tom Snooze

The constraints of the mission prevent you from just going mental and mowing down the enemy in a giggling orgy of destruction, as you can in Goldeneye if you need to relieve some stress. As a result, most of the levels have minimal replay value - once completed, you're glad to see the back of them. Only a couple of missions - most notably the business with the snipers at Waterloo station - are interesting enough to bring players back for more, and even they're fairly weak compared to what other N64 games have to offer.

Brian De Palma's movie may have possessed plot holes you could drive a TGV through, but it was done with enough zip and visual flair to let audiences overlook its dodgy script. Mission: Impossible, the game, doesn't have zip or visual flair, so its numerous shortcomings aren't even disguised from the player. Ocean were doubtless hoping for comparisons with Goldeneye and Tomb Raider, but the game Mission: Impossible most closely resembles is Shadows Of The Empire - a motley assortment of subgames, none of which are especially good.

The original game design's Al might have been too complex to work on a console (nobody's even managed it yet on a PC with eight times as much memory to play with), but at least the programmers were ambitious enough to want to do something nobody had seen before. The revised, dumbed-down Mission: Impossible shows what happens when a project is dumped midway through and restarted almost from scratch to get something, anything, coded so the company can see a quick return on its considerable investment. Goldeneye showed that film licences can work superbly, but Mission: Impossible is a step back to the bad old days when the name was more important than the game - a practice that Ocean was supposed to have left well behind.

№20 MORTALKOMBAT 4

Publisher: GT Interactive Devloper: Eurocom Game Type: Beat-'em-up

Wh-kish! Wh-kish! What's that noise? It's the sound of a deceased horse being soundly flogged, that's what. Mortal Kombat has been around in its various guises for most of the millennium's closing decade, and it hasn't changed a bit. Sure, more characters have been added, the signature 'fatalities' have been spruced up and made ever more ludicrous with each new incarnation, and now the franchise has made its first steps into the third dimension... but the underlying game itself is all but identical to that in the first arcade version.

Mortal Kombat is the latest, but almost certainly not last, addition to the series. Once again, the evil forces of the Outworld are trying to take over the Earth, the fate of the planet being decided by a bout of fisticuffs in the traditional manner. Familiar faces from the previous games make a comeback, some from beyond the grave, and a few new bugs pop up to make their play for a part in the next sequel. It's basically business as usual.

Karry On Kombat

Anyone who's played any of the previous Mortal Kombat games (apart, that is, from the godawful MK Mythologies, which made even Mortal Kombat Trilogy look good) will be able in and start playing MK4. In fact, even if you've never set eyes on a Mortal Kombat game, you'll be able to get straight in anyway, as the gameplay is a model of simplicity. Two punch buttons, two kick buttons, a rarely-used block button and a practically irrelevant run button, and you're away. It's possible to have some fun just by slapping the buttons as quickly as possible to see which fighter goes down first in a haze of blood, but obviously things get more interesting if you learn how to perform the special attacks - acid spitting, spear throwing, teleportation and the like.

It's these special moves that show up just how little the MK series has advanced since its early days, because not only do they took the same, they're performed in the same way. You could argue that this lets fans get straight into each new game as it appears. Or, alternatively, you could argue that it saves the designers from having to do any time-consuming and expensive thinking up of new ideas. Even though the game is now in 3-D, with the addition of sidestep functions (which, like the run button, hardly ever get used in play) most of the moves could have come straight from the first MK game. All that's changed is the amount of gore.

Killing Joke

To its credit, Mortal Kombat 4 has added a few minor new features. Each character has a special weapon which can be pulled from a portable hole (or somewhere) during a fight and used to bray the other fighter upside the head, and objects lying around the arenas can be picked up and hurled to painful effect. That's really about it, though.

The Street Fighter titles, Mortal Kombat's long-term rival, have added things like chargeable power bars, reversals and combo breakers which add to the original gameplay without overwhelming it, but MK4's designers are happy just bending someone's knees the wrong way instead of advancing the game.

Despite its limitations, Mortal Kombat 4 is actually quite fun to play for a while. The brutal fatalities, now played entirely for laughs, are the kind of thing that appeal to the 14-year-old boy in all of us, and the whole thing is just so ridiculous that not even the most uptight Mary Whitehouse type could possibly find it a moral outrage. It's very fast, it's easy to play, and as a two-player game it can be enormously amusing. However, it's also as shallow as spilt coffee, and if you take out the comedy violence there's not really a lot left. For now, MK4 is the best beat-'em-up on the N64, but only by default.

reggie posted a review
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