Desperados 3 – I’ll Be Your Huckleberry
PC, Xbox One, PS4
When pinged to do a review for Desperados 3, my immediate thought was ‘wow, that sounds familiar …’. Two minutes of Googling later, I was reminded of the first game using this title, a real-time-tactics game that was released in April 2001 that also had amazing reviews! Sadly, this was also a time when my (at the time) PC wasn’t powerful enough to run it. Five years later it got a sequel, unfortunately, due to a mediocre story and handful of bugs, fans left it high and dry and the series was stopped dead in its tracks … until now.
Without so much as a dull roar, 14 years later, Desperados 3 (D3) is now available on Steam. Developers, Mimimi Games, hopefully trying to win fans back, reignite the series and deliver a real-time-tactics stealth game that would win us all over with its challenging gameplay and engaging story that’s chronologically set before the first title in the series, so let’s see how they did.
Are you familiar with the real-time-tactics stealth genre? It is ok to say no, it’s hardly a bloated genre in all things gaming. Besides the Desperados series, the only other one that comes to mind is Commandos 1 and 2. You control a handful of units, all with special abilities, and attempt to complete a level’s objectives that are all outlined for you at the start of each level. How you utilise your characters, environment, and abilities to achieve these objectives is completely up to you but staying out of sight and remaining hidden is usually a must.
As a result, the game has a large emphasis on stealth, if you’re caught red-handed in an act that the enemies deem wrong, it usually results in lights out for your team. When planning your attack, you need to consider everyone’s line of sight as well as cleaning up any mess you make along the way, because it will be noticed!
The game gives you a bunch of tools to help you do this, by right-clicking on an enemy, you will be able to see a cone of vision from their perspective that you’ll want to steer clear from. Holding down the same button on an enemy or area and the game will show you who can see that person or area at any given time. These tools are incredibly intuitive and enforce the notion that you can’t simply go in guns blazing and hoping to micro-manage your way out of a mess. Instead, D3 forces you to take your time, get an understanding of your enemies’ movements and vision, plan your attack, and execute!
Another nice feature is the Showdown mode, this pauses the game and lets you queue up a bunch of commands so you can execute them all at the same time, this removes the need for attempting a series of precise inputs only to screw up a plan of attack with a simple miss-click. If you screw up in D3, it’s purely from bad planning and not from bad motor control.
A chapter can take upwards of 1-2 hours to complete, with lots of trial and error to be found. Often you’ll fool yourself into thinking you have a fail-proof plan, only to have a guard spot you out of the corner of their eye, alert the national guard and signal a tactical nuclear strike on your general location (ok that might be a slight exaggeration). Now for the surprising part, as frustrated as we got with each failure, it only encouraged us to keep trying until we finally found a way to victory. This is what D3 does incredibly well, the game feels intrinsic rewarding when a plan works out and you check off an objective point, walking away unscathed.
There was only one small gripe we had during our playthrough of this game, and that was the saving. Often, we would try to complete a minor objective, only to have our best-laid plans blow up before our faces and then having to reload a save from a couple of minutes ago. This meant maybe navigating a small area on the map or doing something less exciting, purely to get back to the area that we had to stop and think. This felt more on us than it did the game as it provides a quick save option as well as telling you ‘Your last save was 1 minute ago’, but it definitely, at times, added to the frustration of failure. This is incredibly minor because it forced us to be more diligent on saving the game more regularly. So, to sum this up, do not be like us, be smarter.
Desperados 3 is simply, a sensational game. It set itself out with a plan and executed near perfectly and the level design and tactical gameplay really drives that message home. It’s a game that can be brutally challenging at times but is extremely fair about it, forcing you to get your brain into a more advanced game of Chess, make the right decision or its checkmate. Although the objectives give it the appearance of something linear, how you achieve them will be different from the next person, and you could watch someone else complete a level and be wowed at how their ingenuity differs from yours. We sincerely hope a gem of a title like this doesn’t get overlooked by the gaming population, its one we highly recommend!
Desperados 3 was reviewed on PC with code kindly supplied by Koch Media Australia