|Loosely based on the 1996 film starring Tom Cruise, Mission: Impossible for Nintendo 64 follows the story of IMF agent Ethan Hunt as he chooses to accept five missions spanning 20 levels. The action is played from a third-person perspective as players guide Hunt through such varied locales as the KGB Headquarters, the Russian Embassy in Prague, and the CIA. Each level offers multiple objectives, from rescuing hostages to destroying enemy installations, which are completed with the help of high-tech equipment. A total of 22 gadgets are available, including a face maker to disguise Ethan's identity, explosive gum, and a bungee cord. The last is used during a sequence in which players must download information from a computer locked inside a guarded vault within the CIA.
Ethan Hunt can also use weapons such as sniper rifles, dart guns, rocket launchers, and pistols, but the game's emphasis is on puzzle solving and stealth rather than overt displays of force. Enforcing this unwritten rule is the game's limited number of bullets, forcing players to think before they act. Each mission begins with a debriefing narrated by a voiceover, along with a dossier of current team members as well as situational updates via the IMF Communicator. The IMF Field Scanner is another integral part of missions, as it highlights key locations, personnel, and items in a radar display. Two game variants include Possible and Impossible, with the latter option offering additional mission objectives and more challenging enemies. Progress during the game can be saved to one of four files on the cartridge.