I'm about to write my usual mini-review, this time for Desperados: Wanted Dead or Alive
Please, if you start reading, read everything, because I will start with harsh criticism (especially towards Nordic and GOG) but I will end with my thoughts on what I believe to be one of the best games I ever had the pleasure to play.
First of all, let my rant begin with this: Nordic Games, GOG.com... how could you distribute a game in this condition labelling it as "compatible with windows 7"? The game crashed CONTINUOUSLY and I experienced several slowdowns: trying to solve the frequent problems, first of all I had to waste a lot of time to convert the entire sound library
, with more than 2000 files (!!!) using WinFF to avoid an error in .wav files decompression. That greatly reduced the crashes, but the game still remains unstable as a pogo stick during an earthquake, often forcing an HARD RESET! (It frequently happens when many different sounds start toghether.)
To avoid the slowdowns, especially one that "freezes time" when lightnings strike, I had to resort to a method that, while speeding up the incriminated sections, completely messed up the menus.
Moreover, if you don't want your eyes to bleed for the tearing effect, forcing the vsync is a pain.
I also heard that playing on Windows 8 is almost impossible, though I cannot say if it is true, since I'm using Window 7-64bit.
This is NOT how you release a game, not at all.
That said... you should consider that I did not suffer all this delirium just because I like to finish what I start: the incedible quality of the game actually made me glad to have gone trough this nuisances.
Desperados is a real time strategy game with an heavy emphasis on stealth: you take control of six characters with widely different abilities, and you goal is to find and happrehend the Jamesbond-ish villain "El Diablo", leader of a murderous pack of bandidos who is terrorizing the southern US.
Let me say that both the mechanics and the level design could be only described as a real achievement of tactical brilliance, forcing the players to melt their brains to overcome those which I consider among the most clever, challenging and exciting moments I ever had the pleasure to play in a videogame. The thrill of seeing your smart plan come to fruition, the constant need to adapt your tactics to the menaces of a very good AI and the -few- extremely tricky scripted unexpected events, and even just the sheer quantity of realistic details and possible solutions are just a few of the game's outstanding virtues.
The world, completely hand-drawn with a beautiful art style, is full of those little details that can build the difference between a good game and a masterpiece: every kind of terrain has a certain noise coefficient; you can manipulate the environment to suit your needs, being them throwing a stone right on the face of a bandit, "silencing" your shots using a waterfall, climbing a wall to launch a double attack from both above and below and many, many other possibilities I'll leave to you to discover; accurate, precise and realistic response from every single aspect, spanning from the overheating of a weapon to the reaction of the civilians, sometimes good friends and some others the worst enemies you could ever make; the fact that every trick you can use could be also used against you (what if an enemy hides in the shadow? What if you scare some birds, revealing your position? Etc...)
The sheer amount of effort the developers put in this title is astonishing, and it shows. They never allow you to lower your guard, and while sometimes this might result in a so high difficulty that you'd think to be trying to crack a strongbox, the sense of accomplishment when you bring a mission to success is unmatched.
The only criticism I can move is about the voice acting: every single line felt uninspired, like the actores were reading the lines without too much contest, and several death exclamation were so bad to result funny in a cartoonish way (whaaaa! I'm dying! I'm bleedin' to death)!
Definitely one of the best games -if not THE best game- I have played this year, I recommend it to anyone who has the patience to fight with a release that displays a shameful and undeserved lack of care. I sincerely hope it can be brought back here and given the proper respect a title of this caliber demands!