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Freemium Field Test: Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation turns the spy thriller into a routine shooter

Andrew Hayward | July 29, 2015
Free-to-play games often look appealing, but it's difficult to know at a glance whether the business model is insidious and fun ruining, or reasonable and worth pumping a few bucks into.

The catch 

Surprisingly, Rogue Nation isn't very restrictive when it comes to playing for long stretches of time. It has an energy meter, but I've played 30-plus minutes in sessions and not run into any roadblocks. Perhaps later missions are much more difficult, making death more likely and zapping that meter in a hurry--but across the several early hours I played, it was never a problem. 

But while you can keep playing, Glu never lets you forget that Rogue Nation is a free-to-play game, and that profit trumps creativity or originality here. Frequent prompts appear with special offers: Bundles of guns that you can buy at a discount in this one-time offer, yet still are wildly expensive. Elsewhere, you'll be prompted to watch video ads in exchange for items like bombs and throwing knives, the latter of which seem more or less essential to get through stealth missions. Watching a video ad also lets you double your earnings after missions, which I actually like: I'll happily let a 20-30 second commercial run instead of another identical two-minute level. 

Where Rogue Nation proves more restrictive is in its weapon requirements. Each mission requires you to have a gun of a certain rating, which means you can either upgrade an existing gun to the prescribed level--or buy a new one outright. Both routes are either slow or expensive. Glu keeps things confusing with three different currency types--earned cash, slowly-accumulated data crystals, and premium gold--but one thing is consistent: The weapons cost a hilarious amount of cash. 

Need a more powerful sniper rifle to take on a mission? It might cost you $15 or more in gold. That limited time offer of a discounted firearm two-pack? Nearly $20. The "deals" section in the store couldn't be more incorrect, thanks to the presence of an Ultimate Agent Pack of high-end guns that costs almost $100 worth of gold. Will you still be playing Rogue Nation in a few months? Will it even still be in the App Store by the time 2016 rolls around? Don't spend $100 on a freemium movie game, please. I implore you. 

Ultimately, I dropped $10 on a pack of gold to afford a handful of gun upgrades that eased some of the repetition--it allowed me to skip the common missions and go straight to those that earn intelligence, which is needed to push the campaign along. But the gold runs out quickly and the gun requirements only get more and more audacious as the game progresses.

The verdict

Like Contract Killer: Sniper, the bland game that Glu slapped this license upon, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation is a competent, free action game that provides plenty of things to shoot. But beyond the theme song and the mention of the main character's name, it doesn't strive to capture the excitement or personality of the movies: It's content to kill time and try to take your money (or ad revenue). As a free game, Rogue Nation gives a little--but it frequently asks for much more.


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