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Hidden & Dangerous 2 PC CD-ROM

Published by Gathering
Developed by Illusion Softworks
Released: Out Now
Price: £29.99

There can be no doubt at all that Hidden & Dangerous was an incredible title. It may have been difficult and had more than its fair share of bugs but this could do nothing to spoil the tense and vice-like grip it exerted over you. It's one of the few games that actually made you feel like you were involved in World War II. It may have taken a long time but finally we have a sequel, however this time there are many titles out there to compete with, so how does this sequel shape up compared to these other titles? Let's find out.

Hidden & Dangerous 2 once again places you in charge of a SAS squad and consists of a20 single player missions that take you from snow covered terrains to deserts. You'll be in Africa, Asia, The Arctic, as well as Western and Central Europe. The single player game offers you the choice of playing through the game in the usual fashion, controlling a 4-soldier squad or playing in lone-wolf mode where you play a solo campaign with one character or you can play in carnage mode where you have a 4-soldier squad but in addition to your original objectives you have to kill all enemies that you encounter. You can also redo any mission that you have already completed in either normal or carnage mode.

Like Hidden & Dangerous, Hidden & Dangerous 2 allows you to pick the soldiers you want and equip them how you see fit. As before you can simply allow the computer to select the soldiers and weapons but taking this short cut tends to lead to a less satisfying experience. You can also allocate the necessary equipment to the relevant soldiers far more effectively than the computer can do. Having said this though the automatic selections are, for the most part, adequate and will allow you to get on with the game if you don't fancy the micro-management.

Whilst Hidden & Dangerous 2 doesn't have the excellent co-operative mode that the first game had, it does have enough multiplayer options to keep you happy. There are three different modes that can either be played over a LAN or Internet (minimum of ISDN is required though). The modes on offer are Deathmatch (the original every man for himself), Occupation (in which you play as Axis or Allies and the objective is to capture all of the enemies flags whilst defending your own) and Hidden & Dangerous objectives which allow you to play as Axis or Allies and your team has to complete their objectives in order to win. Once you're killed though you can't play until a new round has begun.

If I had to pick fault with this excellent game, it would have to be that the default control system isn't ideal. Illusion decided to choose the cursor keys as a method to move your character instead of the reliable, and infinitely more comfortable W,A,S,D combination so beloved of FPS gamers the world over. Of course you can redefine the controls but as a lot of keys have commands bound to them it can take a while to identify spare keys to remap the original commands for the W,A,S,D keys. Whilst the default movement controls are awkward, the interface is much better than in the original game. Once again you can pause the game and issue a queue of commands to your men only this time it's much easier. You can also use a variety of commands using the number pad keys to control your squad and unlike the first game they actually do what you ask of them without putting themselves is perilous positions. These improvements make Hidden & Dangerous 2 a much better game than the original Hidden & Dangerous.

Graphically Hidden & Dangerous 2 is a big step up from the first game and you'll need a powerful PC to run the game at high screen resolutions with maximum details enabled. Whilst it wouldn't be right to say they are the best graphics I've ever seen, they are definitely very good. Right from the first snow covered, moonlit mission in Norway the atmosphere is superb. Just like in the first game there are a variety of vehicles, such as motorcycles, supply trucks and halftracks, that you can enter and drive. In total there are around 20 vehicles and they all look impressive. Some of the maps within the game are huge and whilst they all look impressive, I didn't experience any slowdown at all.

You can enable subtitles in Hidden & Dangerous 2, which is impressive to see. As far as I can see everything is subtitled, even the comments from your fellow officers are all shown in text. All of the cutscenes, with the exception of the introduction, are subtitled which is excellent. The game uses icons and visual feedback to show the state of your squad's health so once again you'll have no problem being aware of what's going on. Thankfully you can also save when you want to so if you do get killed by an unexpected shot, although your men will always warn you if the enemy is sighted, you'll never lose too much progress.

Well in over 3 years of reviewing games I can safely say that Hidden & Dangerous 2 is the best World War II game that I've played. The huge improvements in the games interface and AI of your squad mean that this is not only a much better game than Hidden & Dangerous but also a much more enjoyable one. The first game was plagued with bugs, even after all the patches had been applied. I did install the patch for Hidden & Dangerous 2 before I played the game and didn't encounter any problems I'm happy to say. Now all we need is news of an expansion.

Overall Game Rating: 9.3/10
Easily the most impressive and most immersive World War II game to date. Illusion Softworks have created a superb sequel and I hope we either have an add-on or another sequel in the works.

Deaf Gamers comment:
No problems at all for deaf gamers as Hidden & Dangerous 2 is fully subtitled.