Desperados 2: Cooper’s Revenge
To start from the conclusion, I found Desperados 2 playable, but not amazing. I will you immediately remind you, however, that “playable” is already infinitely better than I considered the original Desperados to be. At the end of yesterday’s review, I noted four points that I would want to see improved: writing, voice acting, tutorials and mechanics. So let’s start there.
First of all, since I panned it so hard previously, let me just say that the voice acting is much better in Des2. Well, insofar as it doesn’t make me want to gouge my own eardrums out, anyway; it still isn’t the greatest voice work ever performed. Still, good enough is good enough.
As for tutorials, these are still a little ropey. They teach you how to do a few basic things — moving characters, special character abilities, that sort of thing — but it skips over a number of really important mechanics. For instance, that you can actually rotate the camera now, either by pressing Q and E or by holding down the right mouse button. Or how certain mechanics like Kate’s seduce or powder abilities actually work in non-scripted situations. It is very, very slightly better than Des1, but still a bit lackluster when it comes to introducing some of the games more important features.
Speaking of which, the mechanics have been streamlined a bit since Des1. To start with the disappointing bit, you can still see only one enemy cone of vision at one time, which is still obnoxious. That said, there is now a toggle for indicating how much noise you are making, which is helpful. As I mentioned earlier, you can now rotate and zoom the camera, meaning you can actually find an angle where you can see where guards are hiding, and it allows for more complex and interesting level design. For some reason, they also added a viewing mode that lets you play the game in a third-person over-the-shoulder style, letting you aim semi-manually (though it becomes much harder to judge distances, naturally). Character abilities have been reduced from five to four (by making certain actions default, like punching, and tying up unconscious foes) and the shortcut buttons for abilities have moved from a random row on the keyboard to F1-F4. It feels a bit weird, since character selection buttons are on the 1-6 keys, below the ability keys; but at least quicksave and load are still on F5 and F8. Oh, and quickloading always works now, so that’s a major plus right there.
As for the writing, there seems to be less of it, for one thing. The game begins with one Marshal Ross Cooper riding into Santa Fe, where he is immediately ambushed and shot through the chest by a group of ruffians working for someone called “Angelface,” if you can buy that. John Cooper (same guy from the previous game, I just kept thinking his name was Jack for some reason) is in town with Kate O’Hara chasing down a low-level bounty named Dillon — apparently, there isn’t really an introduction to that particular plot point. Anyway, after the (previously mentioned) tutorial, the local sheriff mentions that John’s brother was in town. John and company track Ross down to the barn that Angelface’s goons had strung him up in. Ross promptly dies, but not before passing on two important(?) pieces of information: “Angelface” (duh) and “the Indians.”
So yeah, even after the first real story mission, there hasn’t been much in the way of exposition. Which frankly, given the nonsense the first game presented me with, I am fully prepared to accept as “less is more.” It would be nice to have a bit more introduction to the actual character of the characters, but being pretty much stock stereotypes, it probably doesn’t matter too much.
There are some other niggles I have with Des2 — it’s a bit unstable, and I had a surprisingly tough time finding a resolution that would work without chopping off the sides of the screen — but I found it to be a lot more inviting than Des1. Not necessarily easier, mind you, but it seemed a heck of a lot less random to me. So yeah. If I’m going to recommend one of the two, I’m going to recommend this one; I can’t help but feel there are better strategy games out there. Can’t say I can think of any set in the Old West, though, so there’s that. There is also a third sequel, called Helldorado, but I don’t own it and I’m really not interested. So let’s leave this one here.
Pros: Better than the first game. No, seriously.
Cons: More could be done with the interface to make the game a little less arbitrary, and a little more fair to the player.
Worth playing: Ehhhh…
Worth the price: $10 seems more reasonable for this game than $6 was for Desperados 1. I’d still wait for a sale.
Random observation: So you have limited ammunition for your firearms in this game, in exchange for them being way more effective (still loud as hell, though). The strange thing is, ammunition on the ground is all marked “Colt ammo”; but whenever you pick it up, it magically becomes ammo for whatever gun the acquiring character uses, such as Derringer ammo for Kate or Shotgun ammo for Sanchez. So why not just call it “ammo”? 😕
Arbitrary grade: C+
I mentioned this last Sunday, but I’m putting this project, as well as any other updates for my website, on hiatus for an indeterminate amount of time. Thanks for your interest, and I hope to be back in the not-so-far future with further nonsense and shenanigans. 😀