Deadly Dozen is a story centered around a group of soldiers who made a name for themselves during World War II. As the story goes, a man named Major General Quinton Maxwell developed a group of twelve highly trained army soldiers as part of a special ops unit codenamed "Project Juno Gold."
Maxwell apparently gained his proclaimed skills by being involved in many "small wars" around the world while growing up. He specialized in many unconventional military tactics including guerilla warfare. Because of his unique style he didn’t fit in well with most people in the military and had a problem with authority. But, the military couldn’t deny that his skills would be useful for the new types of battles that were being forged during World War II. So, the War Department commissioned Maxwell to develop twelve highly trained army soldiers to perform "military operations of a sensitive or covert nature." Maxwell finally found twelve men who had similar style and nature and was able to train them into highly trained fighting machines. Thus, the legend of the Deadly Dozen was born...
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
The game takes place in first person view through one of the four soldiers in your squad. There are 10 levels and each has a mission with a range of objectives to complete -- some required and some optional. Usually each mission has between 2-6 objectives and they all finish in some pre-defined exit point on the map. The objectives usually contain stealing something, killing something, or blowing something up -- general mayhem is the goal of this game (they don’t call them deadly for nothing).
The lay of the land is approximately 2-3 miles square, where you roam around on foot pursuing your objectives. Before each mission you get to choose three of the eleven soldiers who best meet your criteria for the qualities required to complete that particular mission. Each person has a general score and is rated (from 1-100) for the following individual qualities: Small Arms, Heavy Weapons, Explosives, Sniping, Medical, Sneaking, and Toughness. You basically take a guess at which group of guys would be best suited for the mission at hand. For example, if you know there will be a lot of heavy equipment such as tanks on the map, you will likely want to include one explosives expert or heavy weapons expert who can figure out how to blow up it before it blows up you. Each person also carries a number of pre-defined items such as health packs, explosives, land mines, guns, etc. You decide what items each soldier will carry before they start. The downside is that it’s always the same items every time you start, so you never learn new skills or utilize anything you picked up in the previous level.
Each mission isn’t really related to the next and you don’t carry anything to the next level (health, weapons, and items). The plot loosely ties each level together as you plod along towards some objective of killing lots of bad guys and blowing up lots of stuff. There is always the War theme in the background and it contains missions based on reality, such as finding the Enigma on a U-boat (a la the movie U-571) or the "Battle of the Bulge."
The controls are pretty standard fare for a first person shooter game. You can choose to sit in the "backseat" of your soldier or you can view through his eyes. The default is to navigate forward, back, right, and left using the keyboard. While looking up and down with the mouse, which also controls the trigger for you guns and allows you to pick up weapons. The game has randomly (as far as I can tell) picked a few keys which tell your crew to: H - Hold position; F- Follow me; G - Fire at will; J - Hold fire; and A - Attack enemy under my cursor (a common military phrase I’m sure).
The graphics were nice. Nice as in Toyota Camry. It looks good, feels good, is very reliable, and gets the job done -- but it’s no Ferrari. There is nothing about the graphics that will overwhelm you and make you sit back just to soak them up. Instead they give you a feel for what European cities of the era used to look like. I would have liked to have seen a bit more variety, but you can’t really re-write history and pretend like there were all these great beautiful creative looking places that were prominent during the war. Usually each map contains a random assortment of buildings some that you can enter and some that you can’t. There are always a slew of trees, bushes, rocks, hills, and valleys to use as cover from oncoming fire.
The sounds were very well done. Each gun has a particular sound and will make you believe it really used to sound like that. Also, the elements of nature are lightly sounding in the background letting you know that you were walking on a trail, over hearing some guards, listening to rain, etc. That and the game music have a nice balance that doesn’t distract, but will keep you in the game. The only downside is that (although it took me a while to notice) the music always intensifies when an enemy is near. This makes your sneaking somewhat less dramatic because you are pretty much warned that the enemy is close by even if you can’t see them yet.
Minimum: P2 300 MHz or faster processor, Windows 95 or 98, 64 MB RAM, 500 MB available hard drive space, 8X or faster CD-ROM drive, 8 MB Direct3D-compatible video card, sound card, and a mouse.
Recommended: P3 800 MHz or faster processor, 256 MB RAM, 600 MB available hard drive space, 16X or faster CD-ROM drive, and a 32 MB Direct3D-compatible video card.
Cool Features / Originality
There were a few things that made me stop and take notice of the nice level of creativity and realism in this game.
First, the machine guns start shooting toward the sky when you fire them. This is nice attention to detail. It can be irritating, because most games keep pointing at the target until you move. This feature on the other hand realistically starts pulling upward from the kick and power of the gun and forces you to really concentrate on what you’re shooting. This eliminates the urge to haphazardly fire in the general direction of an enemy and think that you would actually hit them. Wow, what a novel concept. You actually have to aim at a body part to kill a human being -- go figure.
Second, when you zoom in on a target while using a rifle that contains a scope you can see that you are slightly bobbing up and down, rhythmically. My only explanation is that it is re-acting to your breathing. This is a nice touch, because it reinforces the idea that you can’t just zero in on a target and always nail it in one shot.
Third, you can drive different vehicles like a car, truck, motorcycle with sidecar (that actually holds two people!), transport trucks, and a tank/truck hybrid. This is way cool and adds a little variety to the game and helps speed up the otherwise VERY SLOW nature of the game.
Finally, my favorite creative element is an item you can carry with you each time you go on a mission. Each soldier can carry a number of items ranging from guns, explosives, medical packs, and even a quarter. Yes, a 1941 quarter. The intention is to "distract" your enemies by throwing the quarter near them so you can surprise them with a nice bullet to the head or knife to the throat. Who knows if that would really work in real life, but it seems to in the movies (which is always a good place to validate assumptions).
"Go Slow!" That is what the manual suggests when playing -- boy, is that ever the truth! Those of us with a short attention spans will have a hard time really sticking with this game. The levels aren’t creative enough to let you play out any type of strategy. Therefore, your usual goal will be to crouch and slowly waddle from street to street until you happen come across an enemy you can kill. This is amusing for only so long.
I had a couple of gripes that I think I can blame my computer for and some I can’t. My computer barely met the minimum requirements for play. The scary thing is the recommended level is miles higher than the required. This was a tip-off from the beginning that I was probably going to have some erratic behavior.
The main gripe I had was that it kept crashing at random times during the game. Or worse yet, it would try to load my saved game and crash before load. There’s nothing like saving a game and going to back to load it to find that in reality you have to start the entire level over. I recommend downloading the appropriate patch from their website: http://www.n-fusion.com/downloads.htm.
The gripe I blame the game for was there were things that just didn’t make sense, given the detail that was paid to other elements. For one, you could run or drive through any tree as if it was air. Now, last time I checked it is pretty hard to hide from the enemy if the tree you’re hiding behind DOESN’T STOP BULLETS. What’s worse, the shrubbery seemed to really launch my vehicle into the air, while trees had no effect (it reminded me of the TV show "Dukes of Hazard," where they always were able to find a convenient bush whenever they needed to cross a river or ditch). Also, the enemy AI was just not good. It seemed that although I could never get to a place where I could see the enemy first (the landscape had not rendered yet), they never had a problem seeing and shooting me. Therefore, most of my sneaking was actually stopped short by them just opening fire (or the music changing) and my figuring out where it was coming from. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to find someone who is shooting at you when you can’t see them yet, so you just keep running in circles and into bullets. This is also compounded by the enemy's uncanny ability to be firing full blast, hot and heavy EXACTLY into your direction and usually into your chest (well, isn’t that special), if you fire a gun in their general direction. That problem in itself made the game not much fun. It was challenging, yes, but also downright frustrating to try being "covert" when you know that everyone sees you before you see them.
In the end, if you run a fast new machine with a nice video card, most of the PC problems I faced shouldn’t be an issue. Also, if you can live with a few of its quirks, it does a nice job of forcing you to really concentrate on what you’re doing. There is no time where you can just stand up with your crew and go running down the street with guns blazing. I feel this game hits the mark for this genre and has a generally nice feel to it coupled with a nice historical grounding. Although the plot is limited in scope and doesn’t really require you to figure many things out (all of the objectives are told to you beforehand), you can use many different tactics to accomplish the same end... and variety is the spice of life!