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Published by:
TalenSoft

Game Genre:
Action/Strategy Game

Game Cheats:
Not Available

Requirements:
Pentium 166, 32 Megs RAM, 4X CD-ROM
16-bit Sound Board, Mouse, & DirectX 6

Retail Price:
$44.95
Our Ratings:
Features

Graphics

Sound FX

Gameplay

Overall

Screenshots:
Hidden and Dangerous


Game Review - by Jeremiah Pratt
1998 brought about the addition of squad based tactical games to the computer gaming industry. Most everyone is familiar with at least one of the three big titles of 1998, Rainbow Six, Delta Force, and Spec Ops. What's 1999 had for us? Not a whole lots thus far, just an add-on for Rainbow Six and the upcoming Delta Force 2 and Rainbow Six: Rogue Spear.

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).

Storyline:
By the end of 1941 the SAS has destroyed more than 100 enemy aircraft. By the close of the 1942 L. Detachment was give full regimented status as 1 SAS Rgt. Receiving volunteers came from 8 Commando, Free French, Poles and Greeks. During operations in North Africa the SAS had destroyed over 400 enemy aircraft and tied up large numbers of troops protecting air bases and lines of communication. The SAS would continue to do important missions throughout the war causing havoc and destruction behind enemy lines.

Features:
The background does bear a close similarity to Commandos, since, as an elite team, you must foil German plans by using covert tactics. H&D, however, joins the ranks of 3D tact-ops games by incorporating a well-detailed 3D engine. The missions span the entire length of the war, somewhat mirroring actions of the time, although they aren't substantial military campaign styled missions. Mission goals are very varied (YES NO RESCUE THE HOSTAGE EVERY MISSION LIKE RAINBOW SIX) and add a heck of a lot of variety to the game.

Gameplay:
Now, so far, you're probably thinking, "Man this game is kickass, I need to run to OUTPOST.COM and buy this thing." Well, unfortunately, as the score will show, there are some major bugs in H&D.

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.

Graphics:
Graphically, H&D are very pretty. Not too heavy on the eyecandy, but well detailed and well modeled. Environments are full of objects from trees to buildings to vehicles. Boards are, for the most part, spread out, giving you a lot of room to move and work with.

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).

Sound FX:
From the thundering gunfire to the stomping of soldiers on ground, the sounds of war in H&D are absolutely genuine and nearly perfect. Each stage has been represented accordingly with various atmospheric sounds. In the forest, you will hear birds chirping and whistle walking by a pub; you may hear a record playing a 40's classic.

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.

Overall:
Hidden and Dangerous is a hell of a game, although some of the missions, in addition to being hard, are frustrating due to various bugs that just end up infuriating the gamer. I also noticed that, for the most part, the early missions tend to be a little bit harder than the later missions and that might turn you off. I'd suggest finding the cheat codes or grabbing the save game from a website so you can skip around to missions like I did (yes I played most of the missions and no I didn't beat more than half of them). H&D easily deserve a higher score, without those bugs, this game would have definitely made the Granted Wish. Patched, this game could be one of the best games of 1999, but until then, play at your own risk!


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