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Deadly Dozen Review

publisher: Atari
developer: Erudite Software
genre: Shooters

P233, 32MB RAM, 500MB HDD
ESRB rating: T

release date: Oct 31, 01
» All About Deadly Dozen on ActionTrip

I think I saw more WWII based games in the last couple of months than in the last decade. Apart from Commandos 2, most of them are first-person shooters: WW2 Normandy, Day of Defeat, Return to Castle Wolfenstein... and now, Deadly Dozen joined the club.

Deadly Dozen is budget title from Infogrames -- a squad based first-person/3rd person shooter, which looks like a combination of Hidden and Dangerous and Project IGI. You will have twelve tough allied chaps at disposal to thwart those wicked Nazi plans. You won't be able to control all of your men all the time; you will have to select a team of up to four men before each mission according to their skills (gun handling, explosives handling, sniper handling, toughness, sneaking and medical skill).

Once you're on the field, you better organize your men the best that you can. You can switch between them at any time, and the ones that you are not leading directly will listen to your commands (which come down to: hold position, follow me, hold fire, fire at will, and attack my target and formation commands). I didn't do too well with organizing my team, and to be frank, I didn't have too much patience from the very start. I realized that wasting your time on formations can only get you a relatively high casualties count; so high, that I almost gave the game up on the first mission.

But, as we, the valiant game reviewers, have to put up with anything, I had to fight my way through this game as well. There is always a single bullet between you and the end of your current mission. This is a great and realistic concept... but...

The programmers were obviously in no mood to mess with the AI too much, so they decide to make the soldiers exceedingly stupid though ridiculously accurate, and with highest possible perception. Now you might begin to realize what I'm on about: however careful you may be, you simply cannot sneak up to the enemy. And that is only when they are in their normal state. When they get alerted they simply know where you are and shoot at you with deadly accuracy. Even if you are sitting in a bush a mile away, you will soon find yourself in a painful shower of bullets. For some reason even the AI controlled members of your team are less skilled than the Germans. So, don't be surprised if your four men wait for one German soldier in an ambush and get the short end of the stick.

This is probably also due to the fact that the Germans simply can sustain more bullets than you. As I said, every wounded Nazi will notice you at once and shoot before you reload your gun, but if you get wounded, you won't be able to shoot for the next several seconds. This means that even an ordinary trooper with a handgun should have no trouble in killing you.

Now, with such enemies, those of them who should be more dangerous in reality, like tanks for instance will present no problem because of their short sight and low speed. Even if you do not have the proper weapons, it will be easier to fight off a tank than an ordinary dog, and that I guess does "wonders" for the gameplay balance.

One interesting thing about this game is that you can drive cars bikes and trucks. These game segments are really interesting because the vehicles act great, and definitely help in passing long routes on a map. The only thing here is that this doesn't seem to be implemented right. While there is at least one of your men in a vehicle, you won't be able to switch to another one, you cannot see the map, and if you have more than one soldier in the vehicle, they will tend to get stuck while dismounting it. The game also crashes frequently at this point.

Your arsenal consists out of a knife, pistol, automatic rifle, sniper rifle and a bazooka, and your opponents will be equally equipped. I just couldn't realize why they insisted on having a knife when you simply cannot get closer than five meters to an opponent. The bazooka is not too useful either. OK, it can blow up tanks, but its tiny explosion radius makes it practically useless against infantry. It took me three projectiles to kill two enemy soldiers standing next to each other. As you can choose the weaponry for all of your men at the start of each mission, I suggest you equip most of them with sniper rifles because they are the only weapon that can kill with a single shot from great distance. If you really want your men to carry other guns, you can take them from the dead bodies of your enemies anyway. Before each mission, you will also be offered to take a couple of useful objects like hand grenades, anti-tank mines, anti-personnel mines, time-delayed explosives, binoculars and a coin to divert enemy attention. Ammo is very limited, so careful how you spend it. If you reload a clip before it is empty you will lose the remaining ammo.

Graphics are quite OK, and the first time I saw the game I was pleasantly surprised. The first thing I noticed were the lovely trees with soft leaves, the grass... all in all a very good soft nature scene. I did enjoy walking around nature and watching the rainfall, but this decent outdoor 3D engine has is not without its faults. The first that springs too mind is the overdone fogging on all missions that take place neither during a night, nor a storm. (The "Turok" syndrome? - Ed) What's more, the engine has a lot of trouble when it has too render a larger number of polygons, especially if they are in confined spaces. If you only come close to a house or any complex object, the framerate will drop, even if you happen to have a PIII-800 with 512MB RAM and a GeForce 3. If it is any comfort, most of the action takes place outdoors, and only a couple of houses are "enterable".

Finally, two more things that really annoyed me: the first one is the extremely long loading sequence, when loading levels or save games, especially when the game has to load all level data for the first time. The other one is far worse - the game tends to forget custom control settings. I tried to switch it to the relatively standard WASD combination, yet each time I would leave the game, it would completely forget about it. You cannot imagine my delight when I loaded the mission and realized I had to go all the way back to the main menu to redefine controls time and time again, and then wait for the game to load once more.

Let me conclude: Deadly Dozen looks like a nifty game, for a budget title, but unbalanced gameplay and annoying bugs simply spoiled the entire thing and won't let you play it for too long.


5.0   Okay

A nice outdoor engine...

which poorly renders confined spaces and characters, AI, playability, bugs.



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