Hidden & Dangerous 2
Wonderfully authentic levels offset by a few bad stealth missions.
Hidden and Dangerous 2 is a stealth-based shooter that lets you control a team of British commandos from either first-person or third-person perspectives. The game spans the entire length of the Second World War, including hotspots in North Africa, Norway, Central Europe, Burma and even a Nazi castle hidden high in the Austrian Alps. The levels are extremely varied and so are the mission objectives. As part of a four-man team, you’re routinely tasked with wiping out entire German garrisons, capturing high-ranking officers, planting explosives and stealing documents.
Stealth is recommended but not always necessary. Most of H&D’s missions can be accomplished with guns blazing, and indeed a great many levels involve storming German points head-on. But make no mistake, this game is nothing like your standard WW2 shooter. After running the training gauntlet, each mission starts with a briefing video that details your objectives and tactical issues marvelously. You suit your four-man team with realistic gear and head out. The game is merciful enough to provide a saving option and allows you to switch between characters, meaning that you can die up to four times.
You are given the ability to order your squad-mates around using a complex but unwieldy command system. Besides giving them orders in person, you also have the ability to pause the game and set waypoints in ‘Tactical Mode’, which gives you a birds-eye view of your surroundings similar to that seen in Bohemia’s Operation Flashpoint.
Every one of H&D 2’s twenty-three missions are grueling and require lots of planning and careful shooting, not to mention fine-combing the needlessly complex controls and interface. The default keyboard setup centers on the directional arrow keys for movement, not the standard WASD, so expect to do plenty of remapping.
The inventory is yet another hurdle to overcome. Doing menial tasks like dropping your spent weapon to pick up an enemy rifle is a grueling process, even with the keyboard shortcuts. Plus you’ll do as much inventory management as your standard RPG with the AI unable to sort out its own gear or scavenge for ammo.
Artificial intelligence lacks in other areas as well. Your commandos are dumb where pathfinding is concerned. Cut a hole in a fence and one might decide to use the guarded main gate. Enemies show more common sense, although they have lapses. You routinely encounter opponents so blind, deaf, and dumb that they ignore firefights in the next room and corpses at their feet.
That said, Hidden & Dangerous 2 remains intriguing. You can go through the campaign solo, in charge of a four-man team that just has to get the job done, or in charge of a four-man team that has to kill everybody. As in Rainbow Six, each commando comes with a name, bio, and seven skills and attributes (shooting, stealth, and so on) boosted by employing these abilities in the field. Atmosphere is first rate, thanks to magnificently realistic indoor and outdoor levels. You sneak through a Norwegian forest on a snowy night, man the guns on a stolen enemy plane over North Africa, or crawl inside the bowels of a German attack ship.
Unfortunately, itâ€™s hard to decide whether all this tension has been created by great design touches or the many quirks. Hidden & Dangerous 2 has very strong and very weak points, but it’s got enough interesting bits hidden just around to corner to make players coming back for more.
System Requirements: PIII 1 Ghz, 128 MB RAM, 32 MB Video, 2.4 GB HDD, Win98SE