Hidden and Dangerous
You'll want to keep this game hidden, as it's dangerously bad - Review By Mad Carl
Like most people born in the latter half of the 20th Century, a great deal of my knowledge concerning World War II has come from John Wayne, Steven Spielberg and whatever bits of history class I picked up when I wasn't reading comic books in the back row. I know the basics. Hitler got himself an army, tried to take over Europe, and got his ass handed to him by Uncle Sam's boys. Sure, other countries helped, but according to my education it was G.I. Joe that did the real work.
The Brits managed to keep from being conquered -- but theirs was as much a victory of tactics as of geography (it's harder to capture an island nation than it is a country like France). Still, even though everybody put up some semblance of a fight (okay, maybe France was easier to conquer for more than just geographic reasons), the war wasn't going well until us Yanks came along. We didn't even need someone rolling troops onto our soil. No sir, we get a few bombs dropped on a naval base and the first order of business is to open up an industrial sized can of whoop ass on both Germany and Japan.
In Hidden & Dangerous, you find yourself right in the middle of the WWII conflict, in charge of a typical squad of elite commandos. You and your group of roughnecks will go deep behind enemy lines and do what elite commandos in WWII did best: kill Germans. I'm a sucker for such a Clint Eastwood kind of setup, so I approached this game with high hopes.
Each mission is part of an overall campaign, lending a feeling of an ongoing story. Adding to this is the constant use of the same commandos through all of your missions. You get a good feeling of continuity when you see the same faces on the load out screen before each mission. Of course, their nicknames could use a little improvement -- knowing a guy's friends call him "Eye" just isn't as impressive as a guy named "Butcher".
The scenery is often suitably atmospheric.
Missions range from simple infiltrations to hostage rescues. H&D tries very hard to be the WWII version of Rainbow Six, and in some ways it succeeds. Weapons are realistic, while environments are vast and reasonably realistic. Most importantly, you're always on the edge of your seat. Unfortunately, the reason for that is often frustration as much as excitement. As you'll find out below, it can go either way.
Sneaking around behind enemy lines can be a heart-stopping affair. If you're sloppy with your soldiers, they're going to die. If you're sloppy with your shots, you'll miss the target and odds are that the enemy will kill you before you can shoot again. This can be frustrating, but when you hit properly-balanced encounters it can be very exciting. If this balance existed throughout the game, we'd have a real winner on our hands.
Sound effects are good. There's a nice meaty sound to the machine guns and the rain pounding down all around you makes your shoes feel squishy. Upon issuing commands you'll hear your squad mates respond as they move out. This is all very cool, and really does help you get into the game.
H&D also has realism in spades. Bullets hurt. People move slowly, not like rocket-propelled Quake soldiers. Weapons are real world models, of guns in use during WWII. A great amount of work has gone into making this game as historically accurate and realistic as possible, and there are times when this is pulled off perfectly. For example, say a soldier I've sent forward comes under fire. In the split second I have to save him, I can whip out my sniper rifle and add a new breathing apparatus to the head of the German responsible for trying to kill one of my men. However, before I got the German, he got my guy in the leg. Now I have to be extra careful, because my wounded soldier could die in another snafu like that one. Those times are exciting and thrilling and everything this game should be.
This only works for ostriches.
One thing I unfortunately did not get the chance to experiment with was the Dreamcast keyboard support that the game offers. While I cannot comment on the quality of the support, I will applaud the fact that the game does include this support at all. Too often companies like Sega and Nintendo release extra peripherals that never get used by third-party developers (how many light guns do you own). It's nice to see that the keyboard isn't getting such shabby treatment.
While I do compliment the attention to historical detail and respect for the real world, that's also exactly what's wrong with H&D -- its level of realism. Game developers have a big problem with Real Life. They all want to build the real world for us to run about in, but they all forget why we play games in the first place: when you get right down to it, Real Life sucks. In Real Life, you aren't allowed to shoot bad guys and drive fast cars and be the hero of the universe. I want to have fun, not worry about tons of intricate little nit-picky things like I would in Real Life. If I'm worrying about how accurate my weapon is, then I'm not playing a game; I'm fighting statistics. That's what happens in H&D. Because you have to lay down to fire a Browning automatic rifle in Real Life, you have to do the same thing in H&D. Ever play Medal of Honor on the PlayStation? You could lug around a Browning there, mowing down Nazis all day long without so much as reloading. That was fun. This is tedium. Sure, Medal of Honor wasn't exactly the pinnacle of realism, but it was fun. Fun is the reason I'm sitting in front of my TV with a game controller in the first place.
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