Hidden and Dangerous 2
I'm Not ashamed to admit that when I first saw Hidden & Dangerous 2 I started dribbling - not out of raw animal lust but much as one does when dozing off in a chair of a certain angle. You can hardly blame me; watching someone crawl through gorse bushes on their belly, waiting while Nazi patrols edge painfully towards your prone squad members... it's hardly the most exhilarating of games to watch.
But then, Hidden & Dangerous was always a game that had to be played at length before its rewards were unlocked, and now, we've had a chance to play the sequel. There's still work to be done, but nevertheless I can happily report that Hidden & Dangerous 2 looks to be every bit the sequel we've all been hoping for.
This Is Now
While the original game was set exclusively behind the lines of the Western Front, Hidden & Dangerous 2 spans the entire European theatre and beyond. Starting out in 1941, you begin your mission behind enemy lines in Nazi-occupied Norway before heading to the extreme climate of the North African desert to combat Italian and German troops. Interestingly, you don't get to infiltrate Fortress Europe proper until you're well entrenched into the second half of the game, by which time you will have taken on Imperial Japanese forces in Burma and rescued a fancy typewriter from a stricken Nazi battleship.
Gameplay-wise very little has changed. From a pool of around 30 dedicated troops, you can pick up to four soldiers for each mission, only one of which can be directly controlled at any single time. The others you order around via traditional keyboard shortcuts or through the new tactical overview.
Whereas the 3D map in the first game was unintuitive to the point of being useless, this time your troops are as easy to direct from above as in a simple RTS. Drop waypoints, fix combat stances, set movement speeds and awareness levels and then watch the level play itself out before jumping in and taking over when it all goes tits up.
As in the original game, you must equip your troops before marching off to war. For those of us without the patience to pore over the penetration values of a Mk II Sten over an M1 Garand, the developers have added an auto-assign system that distributes the best weapons and equipment to those who can make best use of it. The arsenal of pistols, rifles, sub-machine guns and other ancillary equipment is exhaustive, and includes the small arms of Russia, Germany, Italy and Japan, as well as the Western Allies. Unfortunately, there is no flamethrower (as was mooted some time ago), which isn't perhaps such a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but still a little disappointing.
By Land Or Sea
On the up side, vehicles are set to take greater prominence in H&D2. Hidden & Dangerous was often at its best when some transportation could (very occasionally) be commandeered, and although Battlefield 1942 may have stolen its thunder, the sequel features a host of Jeeps, staff cars, half-tracks, tanks and even two-man submersibles. Not only do H&D2's small fleet of war machines look far more convincing than in any other WWII game, they're more realistically modelled too. Squeeze your entire squad into a LRDG Jeep and watch as your boys struggle to shoot at pursuers, swaying to and fro as they bound across the dunes. One of the features that strikes you when you first play the game is the incredibly detailed animations of your soldiers. By switching to a third-person view you can witness your troops crawl, stalk, run, lean and roll about the terrain in the most convincing manner. The mousewheel selects movement speed (a la Splinter Cell}, which isn't just instinctive, but adds to the tension and is far more realistic than the usual run/walk keys. As with the original, you can shoot from the hip or aim down the sights, adding immeasurably to the sense of realism and immersion. Bigger and better than its predecessor in every way, with more missions, added equipment, a substantially improved interface and, of course, a new 3D engine. H&D2 is looking extremely tasty. Our only concerns lie with the stability of the final game and the Al of the enemy. There wasn't much evidence of any of those dynamic co-ordinated attacks we've been promised, but then it's still early code.
Nevertheless, even if it was released tomorrow, H&D2 would easily do away with young pretenders to the tactical shooter throne, such as Ghost Recon and Raven Shield. But this sequel has its sights set higher and, given due attention, we're confident it will eclipse its awardwinning predecessor in every way. Best get some rest now while you can.
Download Hidden and Dangerous 2
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
As Far As tactical shooters go, Hidden & Dangerous 2 has more tactics and shooting than a game of chess played with revolvers. Indeed, back in the carefree days of 2003, when special 'bump-mapping' amazed all and magazines were the lovecraft of a man and his typewriter, H&D2 was king of the thinking-man's blasters, and there's still nothing quite like it today.
Sure, these days the graphics are looking a little rough and there's still the odd Al bug lurking around, but Hidden & Dangerous 2 remains a wholly playable and enjoyable experience. At times it's harder than a concrete donkey, but addictive enough that you won't care. There's a huge variety of challenges and levels too, and the top-down RTS mode can be useful for planning your attack. True, for combat and a much-lacked co-op mode, Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter is by far the superior experience. However, if you like a little strategy in your war, you can't go wrong for a tenner.
It's Almost a criminal oversight that Hidden & Dangerous 2, which boasts such attention to detail and variety in all aspects of gameplay, should lack a co-operative multiplayer mode. (Illusion has indicated it's likely to be part of the forthcoming expansion pack.) The excellent single-player campaign is tailor-made for team work, after all. For now, though, we have to content ourselves with three online modes: Deathmatch, Occupation and Objectives.
The first, Deathmatch, is self-evident. The second, Occupation, is a territory control mode you'll be familiar with from Battlefield 1942, among others. And the third, Objectives, adds a touch of the Counter-Strikes, by giving each team specific goals, such as retrieving documents, eliminating VIPs and the like. The maps are fantastic (most of them taken from the campaign), and the engine lends itself to some very satisfying action, making us wish more than ever that Mafia had included a multiplayer option.
But the bugs that marred the single-player game rear their heads here too. The main problem, and quite a huge one at that, is connecting to a game in the first place. And when you do finally find a server that lets you in, you may find it crashes to the desktop. It's not as if there are many servers around, either. The bugs are still keeping a lot of people away, and the servers aren't exactly buzzing, but you can still find the odd 32-player bash going on. With more patches and that much missed co-op mode, this might just take off. We reckon it deserves to.
History repeats, historians often say, and after seeing all of the World War II titles on the market, I tend to agree. Hidden and Dangerous 2 looks to repeat history once again, but this time from the perspective of the British Spectral Air Service, an espionage unit used to cause mayhem behind Axis lines. But in a saturated market with plenty of worthwhile WWII titles, is Hidden and Dangerous 2 good enough to make history worth repeating again?
Hidden and Dangerous 2 is one of the many games in the recent trend to bend a few genres into its fold, but first and foremost, it's a squad-based tactical shooter with an emphasis on espionage -- throw in some RTS and RPG elements for good measure. The game is unlinear in how you accomplish missions, whether you prefer the run-and-gun method or meticulous planning and execution (though HaD2 accommodates the latter much more). Variety is also one of the game's fortes; with missions ranging from squad based tactical missions to solo espionage missions. The tactical mode is handled really well, and even allows you to pause time and issue orders which gives you a lot of freedom in how you tackle situations.
Multiplayer takes a cue from Battlefield 1942 and combines vehicles with large, open maps ' it feels a bit slow, but is still a lot of fun.
HaD2 sets out to create an immersive and realistic WWII setting, and it accomplishes this goal fantastically. The graphics and audio both play a large role in this as they ultimately create an authentic WWII setting. The draw-in distance goes quite far so there's a lot of detail in the environments and the ambient and moody music fits very well with the WWII theme. Great voice-acting and sound effects top off the package.
HaD2 pays a hefty price for its realism: the unrelenting difficulty level. One-hit kills, sharp enemy AI, not-so-sharp ally AI, and confusing mission objectives all share a role in the blame. Some might find the difficulty an attracting aspect, but too often the game will rely on trial and error to bypass the harder areas. Needless to say, frustration will often result.
Unfortunately, HaD2 has a lot of problems aside from the steep difficulty. The interface is, at best, clunky and often results to a lot of micromanagement to accomplish simple tasks. Bugs are frequent in HaD2 as well, in both sloppy programming and AI screw-ups. Right from installation, I had problems and they permeated throughout the game. And while enemy AI is clever enough, troops under your command will sometimes ignore your staggered orders and do absolutely nothing.
For everything Hidden and Dangerous 2 does right, there's something that it does wrong. HaD2 ultimately creates a frustrating experience stemming from both the deep difficulty and buggy programming. But, underneath these problems lies an extremely realistic and engaging squad-based combat sim. If you can overlook the problems, there's a lot to be had here; but for most gamers, it won't be worth the time or effort.