Hidden and Dangerous
Game Review - by Jeremiah Pratt
With the same names repeating over and over again, it seems as sequels may kill off the genre or at least narrow the variety down considerably. Not to worry, Hidden and Dangerous is here. Talonsoft (recently acquired by Take 2) wandered over to Europe and snagged dug up a tactical strategy that pits you deep in World War II with an elite squad of men (a.k.a. SAS).
Instant deaths plague some of the levels, while the save feature can lead to its own problems including the instant death and units appearing in between levels. (Note: the save game feature was a last minute addition to H&D after some comments from the gaming community so I really don't hold too much against the developer for trying to please the public, the save game feature is a very nice feature, just buggy)
Unfortunately, the very first level is one of the worst for bugs, which is NOT a good way to get players interested. Units jump off the bridge or just fall through the board to instant death. Some bugs I noticed later on in the game involve the vehicles, where my guys would fall out while I was driving and get run over and killed, or when I had a vehicle roll over and trap two of my guys inside. The vehicles are nice, but the physics engine for them needs some work.
Another negative side, this game may prove to be too difficult for many gamers. As I previously mentioned, one error can lead to a mission failure. You have to be extremely careful and often enemies seem to fire from nowhere. There are no multiple save options and you are limited to only one save per mission. If you are constantly dying (as I found myself doing, all too often), you find yourself saving/loading most of the time and this can cause frustration. As with games like Commandos and Rainbow Six, many retries are needed to successfully complete a mission.
Another slight flaw would have to be the control system. It takes some time to get used to and I recommend printing out the control keys. Sometimes you are unable to perform an action when needed to, which results in an untimely death.
Another silly problem, or possibly a feature, which has purposely been left out, is the ability to swim. It is quite amazing how these hardcore army veterans can drown and die in seconds when faced with the prospect of water. H&D is definitely for fans of this genre, yet may not be suitable for the die-hard Quake fan who needs a fix for his action needs.
Your team is usually way behind enemy lines, the odds are against you and you have to keep your cool. Being extra discreet is the order of the day and a full frontal attack is never the solution. Many people have been moaning about the bugs.
Multiplayer can also be a nightmare if you want to play on the Internet. The IPX LAN games seem to work fine and if you got a LAN, you should give it a try. The Internet support is just horrid though. Games crash bugs from the single player rear their heads in multiplayer, and it's just a pain in the ass to actually get a level finished. I spent about three hours one night trying to get a four player game going only to play for a total of ten or fifteen minutes. I will mention that Internet play for two players seems to be a lot more stable than three or four player games. It might be worth grabbing one and only one buddy and giving it a whirl, but you're probably still in for more trouble than it's worth.
My favorite mission is the only mission of the 5th campaign. The whole level takes place on a sinking German cruiser. While it's a little too dark for my tastes, it is one of the creepiest levels I've played in any game. Lightning will flash and illuminate the decks, while the list of the ship and the swinging chains make it seem so realistic, yet surreal at the same time. The sheer size of the ship and its cold emptiness created an aura of suspense as I played it.
Other levels include mansions, villages, bunkers, and airstrips. H&D provide the gamer with three views; a bird's eye view, an over-the-shoulder view, and a first person view. One of my gripes comes in this area, as the third person views are hard to aim with. They give a good perspective, but something is lacking from the ability to control your aim. I spent most my time playing in first person, but it feels like such a shame that the 3rd person views weren't implemented better (both Delta Force and SpecOps had decent 3rd person views, RB6's is about on par with H&D's).
This attention to detail separates an average game from an excellent one. The musical score is completely appropriate for the game's theme. The music is made up of drum rolls and violins in authentic war theme songs. Unfortunately, there is no 3D sound card support, which could have added even further to the ability to immerse one into the game.
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