World War 2 – our finest hours of victory over evil Nazism. As a revisited topic, by many many gamers and developers, it has brought great games like Call of Duty, Medal of Honor, and Battlefield 1942. But none of these showed the explicit detail of being a specially trained team of British SAS soldiers, going beyond enemy lines to do the most devastating of attacks. These attacks could've very well changed the war in our favor as we know it. Illusion Softworks has shown gamers this detail, this espionage, and this awesome view into the British special forces of WW2 in the original Hidden & Dangerous, and now, they're back with a sequel for the game.
Being sneaky is somewhat hard in H&D 2. There is only one silenced weapon, a STEN gun, and some knives. Although, most times you won't need silence due to being able to ambush entire squads of soldiers, and thus eliminating any immediate threats. Or, you can go the elitist way, and sneak through the entire level, killing only those that block the path to your objective.
As in the first H&D, all of the characters have unique stats. These stats mean many different things, such as: ability to carry a large load of equipment, being able to sneak and recon, being able to snipe or aim a lot more accurately than others, and so forth. This means gathering a team that's suitable for that particular mission, becomes more and more vital to your success. To be a little helpful in getting this team, you are briefed before every mission, told any vital information that seems useful, and if that isn't enough, there is an option from the original to have the game choose all of your equipment and men that it thinks are best for that level.
Equipment is done through an RPG type fashion, such as in a 'shop' and choosing things to buy like armour or weapons. Instead of buying, you merely drag a gun, grenade, health pack, helmet, backpack, or any other item onto a 2D display of your character. Equipment choices are based on the type of level it is, if the last level had a cache of weapons that was raided, and so forth. Eventually, you get access to everything (including Panzerfausts, Bazookas, Mines, Detonation Packs, and other explosive weapons of war). I was fairly impressed at the selection of the weapons and items that were eventually available, which can make for a slightly better feeling of choice. If you run out of ammo during a mission, you can loot enemy corpses for ammo and weapons. If you can make the enemy scared enough, you can make them surrender, letting you tie them up and take their clothes to go on a spy mission, which is one of the missions actually. Sometimes you might end up relying entirely on doing this, which can further increase your involvement in the game.
Controlling your character through enemy trenches and behind enemy lines is done in the old WSAD fashion (once you bind it to those keys..). The entire game is 3rd person but can be 1st person if need be, which can result in better accuracy, but also a more ''squished'' feeling. If you ever played SOCOM for the PS2, the game feels just like it (without the hard controls on the PS2 controller). The accessability on all of the terrain with a push of a button, is very nice. You can climb nearly any object that is within reasonable reach, as I was able to climb on top of a rooftop and get a drop on all enemies below me; though this was a glitch, I was able to go all over the buildings like this.. while floating in mid air at times. Other than that one time, I couldn't find any other glitches like this, and I'm happy to say that Illusion has done a nice pinpoint job on the levels.
Speaking of levels, your missions go from rescuing a downed pilot, to destroying an entire underground base, to completely infiltrating an island with water insertion points, and enable a lighthouse for friendly boats to see where to go, all while blowing up multiple large cannons mounted in the base. These missions vary all over in objectives, and they provide a good variety. As for choices of playing through the game, you get 4 modes – Carnage, Campaign, Lone Wolf, and Single Mission/SM Carnage. Carnage is where you play through the game, and have to eliminate EVERY enemy on the level, while doing harder objectives than normal. Campaign is the normal route throughout the game, with normal objectives and setups. Lone Wolf is from the Rainbow Six series, in which you play through Campaign mode, but only with a single soldier. Finally, Single Mission is playing any mission you beat in Carnage or Campaign mode, but only that mission. These modes (especially Carnage) will provide the elite with some fun times.
Guns, Guns, Chatter, Guns. That is what Call of Duty is. H&D 2 is a bit more like Chatter, Chatter, Guns, Chatter. You mostly communicate with allies, coordinating defense and offense, all in British vocals. Guns are done in high quality blasts, and random little things like footsteps are heard just as running through grass should be. It's all hard to explain, mainly because the game is ... silent, but little details flourish the game. EAX support is also available, and will help a lot in finding where you're being shot from (Bewere of bugs alert: I turned it on with a 4.1 Creative speaker setup, changed it to normal due to echoe's, and now two of my speakers don't even work).
Finally, when someone says "Hit the dirt, Soldier!", you will rejoice at hugging the flora and fauna. It blends well with everything else, just like real nature. It covers you while you sneak behind an enemy, it hides dead bodies, and it all looks great in the process. Uniforms get nice little details like wrinkles, pockets, badges, blood stains (PERMANENT blood stains - even if you heal, or cheat, it will look bloody). And weapons looks just like their counterparts, realistically detailed in every way. I suppose I should mention the awesome Ragdoll physics as well.. or if they aren't ragdolls, then it is one very nice death animation system. Overall, graphics are beautiful, and physics are nice.
As I am a SinglePlayer person, I played perhaps about 4-5 games of MP. Those few I played were lag-free, bug-free, and very fun as in BF1942 when you switch the tides of war both ways. Players get the exact same soldier and equipment choosing as in single play. This means there are no classes, and the only limitations are the weapons. There are also special 'backpacks' that call in air and artillery strikes, but are so heavy, you're limited to a light gun with minimal ammo. Among best things in multiplay are the vehicles – tanks, jeeps, halftracks, machine guns, AA gun-mounted trucks, and a few others – even though they are available in SP too, if you can find them. Kudos on a good MP mode.
A very detailed, historic 3rd person shooter. I actually chose this game over Call of Duty - and I do not regret it. Great graphics, great stealth teamplay, good replay value, and a very nice campaign, all lead to a sequel ten times better than the original. Anyone who loves 3rd person games, especially shooters, buy this (unless you're sick of the WW2 craze).