The Bomb will explode and he will get away! - Review By Mr. Domino
I can remember playing Duck Hunt, Operation Wolf, and Lethal Enforcers among others and enjoying the challenging reflex based gameplay they presented, and until the Alzheimer's kicks it, I will continue to reminisce. I spent the better part of my youth learning how to hold a gun and shooting down massive waves of ducks and people, all in preparation for the day that I would maybe see some woman being beaten by a duck and being able to use my incredibly mad shooting skillz to take her out. Of course, I know that a real gun has recoil and weight while the ones I used did not, but I'd still imagine I'm quite the sharp shooter and maintain my pointy trigger finger to this day.
Of course, target shooting games are fun and all, but around the time the FMV powered titles were coming out, demand for gun games seemed to dwindle. Sure, it was great to be shooting at real people, but the targets were still flat and dull. If I shot a duck in the head or crotch, the duck would react the same way each time. The bad people I was trying to kill in the name of justice also had an annoying habit of just popping up in the thin air to threaten me with a knife or something. Virtua Cop changed all that. While a polygon gun game was thought at first to be a novelty, it could not be ignored how needed the move to 3-D was for the genre. It added life to the scenes and realistic reactions to the player's shots. Sure, it was more or less the same game, but the moving targets and improved scoring system made it a gun game fanatics dream come true.
While Confidential Mission isn't technically Virtua Cop 3, it might as well be based on the way the game plays. The first Virtua Cop featured heroic Virtua City cops Rage and Smarty taking on a weapons gang across three levels in one continuous story. Virtua Cop 2 expanded the game, adding a useless female to the roster while allowing for branching paths and a more cinematic presentation. Confidential Mission is more or less the same with a completely new cast, and many might wonder if an arcade game so similar to Virtua Cop can sustain a Dreamcast owner's attention span long enough for a purchase. Can it? Find out in the exciting conclusion to our review!
The first boss waddles around the museum while he triggers traps and calls for help.
Without a doubt, the presentation of Confidence Mission is leaps and bounds above previous Virtua Cop games, with each of the three scenes telling a consistent storyline and making the experience very much like an action movie on your Dreamcast. In fact, the game heavily borrows from several major motion pictures that it's not funny and shouldn't be as any other fact about the game. The main character, secret agent Howard Gibson, is a living dead ringer for bigot Ian Fleming's James Bond, and he happens to sport a female sidekick who seems to embody various qualities from action female sidekicks from Emma Peel onward. The stages take place at locations you've probably seen before in any of a variety of action movies, including a speeding train rescue (with our heroes disguised very much like Steven Seagal in, well, any Steven Seagal movie) and a jungle base with an enemy character straight out of Predator.
Each mission has a decent briefing about the objectives, and there's loads of cinemas and dialogue setting up the action all throughout each adventure. The dialogue is hokey and corny, delivering with the best monotone not enough money can't buy. However, while many have complained that the poor dialogue in House of the Dead was bad acting, here Sega seems to vindicate itself by clearly showing just how tongue in cheek the performances and script are meant to be. In true action movie form, Gibson has a line for most any situation, such as spouting: "Well, ain't she popular!" while defending a woman against a hoard of enemies. It's really great stuff, and the comedy extends to both the ears and eyes with some really funny looking motions from the "innocent victims" and probably the best credits screen ever made (don't want to spoil it).
For some reason the grappling hook can only attach to the clock on the building.
Hmm... I could just say I don't want to spoil anything more and end this review here, but that would not help you know the game better, so let me babble a bit about the graphics. The graphics rock! The texture level is just outstanding with some incredibly large levels and colorful but appropriate graphics. While none of the levels are particularly creative or interesting in their design, they are nonetheless clean and nicely detailed. I particularly enjoyed the boss encouters, which deviated from the usual stagnant screen dummy target of other games and the snowmobile riders of mission two. The variety of the enemies is the best yet in any Virtua Cop game, and not all are just window dressing with some characters sporting bullet-proof shields or other items to make your life more difficult. The character models are great (even if their lips don't move while talking), and their animation really blows away the previous games with far more realistic animation and tactics ranging from running and firing, diving with a sight on your head, and rolling out through a window with guns blazing among dozens of other enemy techniques to keep players alert. There are also far more enemies to shoot at this time around, often with three or so on screen that are just bonus kills (not everyone needs to die). This makes the game quite challenging; it's easily the most difficult "Virtua Cop" yet.
Thankfully, players have a bit of help to make the rough going easier. As with the Virtua Cop series, the game will display a site over all people who need to be disposed of to progress on to the next area. The target ticks down similar to a color-coded clock, and when the clock strikes "red," the enemy will successful fire upon your character and register a hit, resulting in the player losing a life. If you're fortunate to find a body armor power-up (found by killing certain unmarked people), you can absorb an additional shot, basically making the item an extra life. You can also accumulate extra lives by collecting the letters "C," "M," and "F." There is a display near the bottom of the screen which tracks how many letters you have, and you will automatically cash them in for an extra life once you collect one of each. Think of it as a McDonald's contest you have an actual chance of winning.
You may not have a chance at winning the game on the default settings, but a little practice at the Agent Academy will help increase your skill for the game at hand. There are six Police Trainer style challenges in the training room, each one focusing on a specific skill such as judging who needs to be shot first to avoid injury or taking out enemies while avoiding hostages. You play two trial stages in each challenge, and once you complete them you test your ability on a sample battlefield with real targets. The challenges are fun, though you should be warned that a few of them are incredibly difficult, especially without a gun. You'll definitely want to complete all the challenges since it unlocks "Another World" and the chance to play through the main game with all new enemy patterns, but beating all of the trials with a controller are borderline impossible. Later on you'll unlock even more trial challenges which are even more difficult than the ones before. While you can use the shoulder triggers to re-center and increase the speed of movement, that still isn't enough to compensate for the better speed of movement with a gun or mouse.
Next: More Good, The Bad, and The Final Word