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Hidden & Dangerous 2

Score: 80%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Gathering
Developer: Illusion Softworks
Media: CD/3
Players: 1 - 32
Genre: Third Person Shooter/ Squad-Based/ Stealth

Graphics & Sound:

Hidden & Dangerous 2 once again places you in command of a group of British SAS commandos during WWII. The original made for a fun adventure, but a number of bugs plagued the game, dragging down the experience. The sequel is a major improvement over the original, but still brings with it a few gameplay issues that keep it from greatness.

Visually, the game looks pretty good. Environments look great and are pretty big, offering lots of real estate to explore during your missions. Locales are dotted with a variety of scenery elements that help to give the game a visual pop -- at least from a distance. Texture work looks great from afar, but when you move up close to objects, they tend to blur up and look washed out. Character models also look great, especially while moving. The models are a little blocky in some areas, but itís not a hindrance. Special effects round out an overall enjoyable package.

Sounds such as gunfire and other elements of war are realistic, while the music sets an appropriate tone for missions.


Gameplay:

Hidden & Dangerous 2 doesnít follow a linear plotline, choosing to instead use a number of seemingly unrelated missions that eventually end up tying into one another. As commander of a SAS force, youíll tackle 20 missions behind enemy lines against Japanese, Italian, and German forces during WWII. Missions will take you through a number of theaters in Africa, Asia, Europe, and even the Arctic.

At the start of each mission, youíll choose your team from a group of soldiers, each with their own skills and attributes. These traits include things like improved stamina, medical skills, and sharp-shooting skills. As your squad moves through missions, and survives, they will be able to earn experience points that can go into improving their skills -- adding a personal touch to the game.

After building your team, youíre given a brief overview of your mission, and then given the chance to equip your team for the mission ahead. A wide variety of weapons are available, each with their own varying degrees of usefulness during missions. Taking a bazooka on an infiltration mission is not a good idea. Since your team members have their own skill traits, some weapons will be better in their hands than in others. Soldiers are limited to carrying only two weapons, one in their hands and one on their shoulder, as well as other equipment like ammo, a knife, and grenades. If youíre itching to get into action, an Automatic Loadout option is also available, which will suggest the best equipment for the mission and your team.

Missions all have a main objective, but they can be tackled in a variety of ways. You can go through missions in typical fashion, or try more stealthy options. After you complete each mission, you can go through the mission again under different conditions. One option, Lone Wolf, lets you go through the mission as a single commando while another, Carnage, has you going through the mission and killing everything you come across.

Multiplayer options are also available, allowing up to 32 players to participate in three modes. As always, Deathmatch leads the multiplayer list and is joined by a variation of Capture the Flag, known as Occupation. An objective based mode, which has you completing tasks with a team, is also available.


Difficulty:

Four difficulty options are available. There isnít too much variation between missions structurally, but enemies in higher difficulty levels tend to be better shots and are a little more cautious.

One of the bigger issues with the game is enemy A.I., which is very spotty in some areas. Some enemies will be able to take you out from a distance without you even realizing theyíre around, but the minute you get within a few feet, you can start dancing a jig and singing show tunes and they wonít even notice you. Teammate A.I. is also a problem. After issuing commands, your soldiers will sometimes listen to you, but seem to lack the smarts to find their way around areas on their own.


Game Mechanics:

Controlling your team of soldiers is pretty easy. Commands are tied to the number pad on your keyboard, making for easy access in a hurry. This alleviates the problem seen in other squad-based games that has you trying to hunt down the right keyboard button press (or combination) during combat. The control scheme is a little too confusing for its own good, through. Nearly every button on the keyboard is used, and moving squad members around with the arrow keys can become a major pain, especially during a firefight.

The physics engine behind Hidden & Dangerous 2 is pretty impressive. Bullets can ricochet and penetrate a number of surfaces, adding a few more elements to strategies. That wooden fence may keep you hidden, but itís not going to protect you once the bullets start flying. Vehicles also handle realistically, instead of driving the same regardless of terrain.

Hidden & Dangerous 2 has its flaws, but still manages to be fun. Fans of team-based shooters should give this one a look.


-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

Minimum System Requirements:



Pentium 3 2 GHz, 2.4 GB HD space, 128 MB RAM, 32 MB video card, DirectX 8.1
 

Test System:



Windows XP, Pentium 4 1.7 GHz, Radeon 9100 128 MB, 40 Gig HD, 640 MB RAM, DirectX 9.0

Sony PlayStation 2 Time Crisis: Crisis Zone Sony PlayStation 2 ATV Offroad Fury 3

 
Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated