The ingenious gadgets, the blistering car chases, the infernal explosions, Tom Cruise’s hair – there’s no mistaking a Mission Impossible movie. In the same breath, there’s no mistaking the hallmarks of a movie tie-in game, namely the IMF’s own. Cook up some uninspired graphics with tiresome gameplay and you’ll find something all too similar to Glu Mobile’s work. Another hollow, half-made mobile game, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation likely shares none of the thrills of its alleged cinematic basis, hardly occupying your time past the line at the concession stand.
Set in the universe of its film with the interactivity of a game, Rogue Nation takes place in a mythical realm where neither matter. The film sees IMF Agent Ethan Hunt assemble his team for one, final mission against the Syndicate, a shadowy organization of rogue operatives with their own agenda. Instead, the game sees you as one of the IMF’s finest benchwarmers and a passing Michael Fassbender lookalike who clearly didn’t get the memo. Your mission? To take out all the Syndicate agents Hunt can’t be bothered to himself and receive none of the credit, but all the paperwork.
To that end, your Not-Tom Cruise acts as more of a two-bit assassin with a toy rifle than any actual “spy.” Not looking at you, Mr. Bond. The vast majority of the game sees you taking point in some continent or another’s street corner, sniping or merely spraying one of the game’s three maps with a hail of bullets in hopes of killing a Syndicate target or wrecking supposedly valuable crates. The gunplay’s serviceable touchscreen mechanics control by way of a shaky cursor – something fine for sniping, not so much for more trigger-happy tactics. This recipe for repetition has you sniping the same foreign dignitary over and over again, ending with the same, contorted death animation like a kid’s Sniper Elite.
The game’s progression system lends a decent amount of replayability to your ludicrous escapades. Successful missions will net you a certain number in cash and gold which you can then trade in for additional weaponry, stat boosters, or spy gadgetry for your headquarters by which you can generate currency over future logins. An energy gun and a companion drone round out your arsenal, though they add little to the gameplay. Said weaponry are upgradeable, though they lack any customizability, leaving you to stare at their drab paint jobs permanently amidst the game’s just-decent graphics.
Missions range from firefights to terribly scripted stealth segments, despite their overwhelming emphasis on the former and can take as little as thirty seconds despite the minute-long timers. Every mission sees you climb your way up to each country’s “boss” of their local Syndicate head, each of them concluded with an unremarkable shootout. They’re also locked behind paywalls more often than not, only unlocked by viewing an army of ads, forking over some real-world money, or enduring the game’s leveling system. New intel on a new target proves a momentary delight with some mention of Simon Pegg’s Benji Dunn or Rebecca Ferguson’s Ilsa Faust, but otherwise, move along, there’s no spoilers here.
Rogue Nation does make some attempts to break up the tedium nonetheless, specifically through the saving grace of its PvP mode. The online feature has you running and gunning your way through your and your and other players’ defenses in the close quarters of your or their headquarters. Taking on live human players is a treat at higher levels and outfitted with friends for backup, the short-lived tension’s as palpable as the typically four-minute timer will allow. Victories will win you spendable data crystals for your trouble and bragging rights, but it’s a shame there’s no deeper spotlight for your fellow agents.
Mission Impossible’s latest mobile tie-in, should you choose to accept its grating faults, is exactly the pocket-sized distraction it aims to be and little else. If you’re standing in line to watch Tom Cruise grip the side of a plane, Glu’s handheld exploit isn’t a bad way to kill a few minutes and a few pug-faced goons to boot. Cheap and uninspired, Rogue Nation won’t renew anyone’s faith in the mobile game market, but it does offer one new way to listen to take that catchy Mission Impossible theme to the little spy’s room.