Hidden & Dangerous 2

Here we have tactical fun and mayhem with the cast of Blackadder.

I remember the first Hidden & Dangerous as one of the most attractive, yet maddeningly difficult tactical shooters ever produced. You are a member of the SAS during World War II using period-accurate weapons and tech. Think of it as Rainbow Six for the true He-Man.

Night vision goggles? Pshaw! Here’s a flare, you wuss. Flashbang grenades? Here’s your skirt, Nancy. Now go get the tea and crumpets while I handle the man’s work.

This is a fun game. Point-blank. You can find it cheaply at just about any Half-Price Books in the US and all over eBay. Modest machines will run its dated and comparatively simple graphics, so there’s no reason not to own this one and have a little fun with it.

The audio drags the player into this sweat-drenched atmosphere with all of the charm and nuance of a pickaxe. The staccato, machine-gun German voice acting is competent enough for you to close your eyes and hear Hans Christian Blech screaming into the telephone during the invasion scenes of The Longest Day.

H&D 2

The lack of modern tech actually makes for some interesting and challenging gameplay, and the solutions to a lot of the problems you’ll run across will range from inelegant to dirt-simple. Got a locked gate? Take your wire-cutters and go find a fence you can cut down. Locked door? Might want to go looting the corpses of people you just shot and see if you can find a key. To hell with lock picking or hacking retinal scanners, this is old-school special operations, so go gunbutt that Nazi officer in the back of the head and rifle through his pockets for something valuable. It’s not harder gameplay in terms of the AI being merciless, it’s more challenging in that you have to think about the problems you face a little differently.

H&D 2 - What Works for the Casual Gamer

First of all, you have varying levels of difficulty and the Easy game setting might not make you invincible, but it certainly makes the playing field a little more balanced. First-aid kits do not restore all your health, take a bullet and it will slow you down, but your friendly AI are crack shots most of the time and go a long way to helping you take out the bad guys. Keep your team healthy, and you will most assuredly have an easier time of it, plus you have the added banter of having David Niven and Richard Burton along for the ride with you.

The ballistics are pretty straightforward and most of the time, the maps are small enough that it really doesn’t matter, the enemy will be close enough to you that a simple iron sight gets the job done. Pistols should only be used for close range as you cannot use iron sights on them, something I didn’t care for. You also have a dagger that you can magically wave in front of someone and they fall over dead. Ah, the days before we just HAD to see the knife blade get plunged into someone’s eye socket.

H&D 2 - What Doesn’t Work for the Casual Gamer

Oy vey, the command menu. It’s horrible, clunky, and not much fun to use. That’s not to say it doesn’t work, it does. It’s a bit like using your wife’s razor to shave. It’ll get the job done, but it’s unpleasant as hell and you have to be very cautious when you use it. Get prepped for action way in advance so that when all hell does break loose, you don’t have to mouse scroll through commands rather ponderously while the enemy AI takes its time to decide which side of your groin it’s going to put a bullet through.

H&D 2

I highly recommend a FANG keypad, but be aware that the default control setup for your keyboard is going to use that ancient scheme in which the directional arrows make you move forward and backward and strafe left and right. You will have to remap everything to use the WASD control pattern on a keyboard and that is a 24-carat gold pain-in-the-ass.

H&D 2 Pros

  • Graphics are old, but serviceable… older or less-capable machines without bleeding-edge hardware will run it flawlessly.
  • Audio is absolutely drop-dead phenomenal, especially the musical score.
  • The voice acting is excellent.
  • Requires problem-solving not ordinarily found in first-person shooters.
  • The older weapons and tech are actually fun to play around with.

H&D 2 Cons

  • Had some lockup issues with Vista 64-bit [who didn't have lots of Vista lockups - Ed.] and I can’t guarantee it’ll work flawlessly with Windows 7, but for the most part, it seemed to be functional.
  • The command menu to guide your AI teammates is alarmingly terrible.
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