Desperados Review

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Graphics: 7.0
Sound : 8.0
Gameplay : 7.0
Multiplayer : 0.5
Overall : 8.0
Review by Andreas Misund Berntsen
Desperados by Infogrames
By Interman

Homepage: here
Demo: here (92 MB)
More screenshots: here

Just before I began playing this game I was informed that it was a whole lot like the brilliant games Commandos. For some reason I haven't played Commandos for more than 5 minutes once, so this was something I was looking forward to.

According to the manual, this is the story:
El Paso, a typical Wild West town in the south-western United States near the Mexican border. It is the year 1881. For the last few months, the trains belonging to the famous railroad company, Twinnings & Co have been target of a whole series of hold-ups and ambushes. The management of the company has decided enough it enough and they have to put an end to the raids. It has offered a reward of $15,000 for anyone who captures the leader of the gang responsible.

But no one in and around El Paso has the courage to take on the might of the bandidos, so the outlaws just keep on robbing train after train. Even the local Marshal is keeping well of it...

It is only when a stranger rides into town that things start to change. Bounty hunter John Cooper pays a visit to the local Twinnings & Co manager offering to end the railroad company's problems once and for all. He gathers together a gang of his old partners and declares war on the bandidos. But during his pursuit, which will take him through half of the south-western United States, Cooper soon discovers that on this mission nothing is quite what it seems.

If you have actually played Commandos you should be aware that every member of your team has his/hers special ability. In Desperados you have for instance a fellow named Doc who can snipe enemies from a great distance by using his own handcrafted ammunition, heal wounds and throw knockout gas at people.


The Graphics:
Obviously since so many feel that Desperados is very similar to Commandos, they have noticed the graphics. Anyway, the viewpoint is very similar to Commandos, the look of everything is very similar to Commandos, and so all in all there aren't many differences. Of course, Desperados takes place quite a long and Commandos is in the "present" so they are very much different that way. I'm quite certain that Infogrames put a lot of time in the detail of the levels, because the amount of detail in the buildings and the landscape is impressive. The various characters are nicely animated, but once you zoom in to the closest view the graphics tend to get blocky and old-fashioned. I will try not to speculate how much onto how the game would look with Direct3D (like Diablo 2, but in a higher resolution), but I'm fairly confident that it would look more like a game from 2001 rather than not. Secondly, something I feel is annoying is that you can't turn the view 90, 180 degrees etc so that the infamous sheriff might be sitting by a tree waiting to unload his Winchester into you. As previously stated, the introduction sequence and post-mission sequences are great, and I'm not sure if it's because they have been made by the same people or just the same tool the characters who are in them look a whole lot like the ones in Diablo 2. If you actually get this game then try to notice the facial structure (bones) and think back at Diablo 2.
To summarize, the graphics look outdated, but work decent while playing. The landscape, buildings and characters are mostly good, making it realistic. And because the movie sequences are of such high quality, they seemed to me like an "award" when a mission was completed.




The Music / Sounds:
Nothing especially unusual in this category. The music is generally of good quality, and changes when there's action etc. I suppose it qualifies as good since it helps to build up the adrenaline rush when your relatively small gang takes on a cavalry of bad-guys. There's nothing extraordinary to mention about the music, except that there's in fact 32 tracks (in .mp3), which is quite nice. Since Infogrames stored all music and sounds in .mp3 I actually got to notice the number, and if you're remotely interested there's actually 2332 files of expressions and sounds in general. I haven't exactly counted in any other similar games, so I won't try to pass a verdict based on the actual number, but because everything sounds just about as great as you could wish! All the Mexicans sound pretty much groggy, whilst southern rednecks sound as dumb as expected (no offence to people living in the southern part of the states Today though).




The Gameplay:
This game is hard! I was actually warned by some friends of mine that even the first levels were tough, and I must say I agree with them. According to the game I've played the game actively for about 700 minutes, and gotten to level 12, so each mission took me about an hour. The main strategy you use throughout the game is to start off by just watching the bad guys, where they walk, when and if people check whether or not they're missing. You then (usually) sneak up onto them, using your knife, hand or boot put them out of action. Ending with John Cooper (being the only one who's able to) dragging the poor bandido off to somewhere far away where he won't be noticed. Once you get a few members to your gang controlling gets harder and you have to think dynamically so that each of them do things while someone else does something different. Efficiency is really important if you want to survive in this game. I must admit that when I began playing this game the in-game interface was strange and not especially easy to understand right away. Secondly, seeing the first mission is a kind of a tutorial it should definitely do a better job showing EXACTLY how to reload and not just say to click on "this and that". It didn't have to be as user friendly as Black & White's tutorial, but something in between that and the way it actually is. Since the game is pretty difficult you will die many times during the game, and I for one am very glad saving and loading is done pretty much as soon as you press save / load. Loading the level took about 15 seconds on my pc, whilst supposedly several minutes on a friend of mine's pc (which specs I do not know!) so if you have a 400mhz or faster pc it should go pretty fast. The actual game doesn't require a monster of a pc, and simply a Pentium 2 233mhz processor, 4x CD-Rom drive, 4 MB video card (3d accelerator not needed) and 64 MB of Ram. The (as Gamespot puts it) learning curve of the game was for me a couple of hours or so, but I was fairly tired at the beginning so that probably had something to do with it. When you have learned to control your gang properly the game is actually lots of fun, for many hours!




Multiplayer:
Nada. It might've been interesting to have 6 humans control his / her own character in a mission, but it would probably be too annoying when one of them screws up and gets killed though. This is not a "team deathmatch" kind of game either, and I'm at least glad they didn't include that as it would be nothing but foolish.



Conclusion:
Desperados is in my opinion a solid game, which if you learn how to efficiently do things can be fun for many hours. Many hours because there are a lot of mission, a lot of difficult missions. I doubt Desperados is a game that will be remembered after a year or so, but if you like westerns, action and thorough planning and execution of missions then Desperados should definitely be something for you.