Hidden & Dangerous 2
Hidden & Dangerous 2 was released in 2003, one of many WWII based tactical shooters that were a popular genre at the time. It was an indirect sequel to Hidden & Dangerous from 1999, which had met with moderate success. The game was developed by the Czech company Illusion Softworks and published by Gathering of Developers and Take-Two Interactive. Hidden & Dangerous 2 featured single player campaigns set around Europe and North Africa, as well as the option for online multiplay hosted via player created servers.
The game strived to be more than just a standard shooter and endeavoured to promote the tactical aspect of gameplay. The game fared well in the UK and built quite a cult following. Unfortunately it did not fare so well in the North American market. Despite receiving above-average reviews, partly because of the popularity of similar games, it failed to find an audience. It can be argued that the lack of any major US protagonists and the focus on European theatres of war were contributory factors. The game was plagued by bugs that persisted throughout its lifespan despite successive and often large patches.
Gameplay focuses upon a four man British Special Air Service team conducting a wide variety of operations behind enemy lines. This included such locations as France, Libya and Norway. The final mission was set in Czechoslovakia during the last days of the war, ending in a skirmish with the Soviet Red Army over German secret documents. An additional expansion pack with extra mission, “Sabre Squadron” was released a year later. This added co-operative online game play and new weapons to the game. Hidden & Dangerous 2 was a minor milestone in its genre at the time, due to realistic tactical approach and immersive environments. Weapon and vehicle physics were plausible and fairly accurate; more so than most games at the time of a similar genre.
This was one of the first video games that I bought that I became heavily involved with. I joined a clan, the “Devil’s Bridge Veterans” and hosted two dedicated multiplayer servers with custom weapon inventories. What I liked about the Hidden & Dangerous 2 was its British perspective and the involvement of the SAS. It also focused on several theatres of war that were seldom explored, such as Burma and Czechoslovakia. I enjoyed the diversity of missions and way you could switch between 1st and 3rd person views. The game featured a magnificent orchestral score by Michal Szlavik and Martin Benes at a time when a lot of competitors where still relying on electronic soundtracks.
I re-installed Hidden & Dangerous 2 on my PC a few years ago. It performed well under Windows 7 64 bit and the only drawback was the lack of support for 16 x 9 ratio resulting in a stretched image. Despite dated graphics the tactical elements were still engaging and the game still offers more than just an average point and shoots experience. There were still dedicated servers hosting co-op and death match games, last time I checked in 2011. Furthermore there are still websites resources for this game if you’re prepared to look.
Hidden & Dangerous 2 was a classic example of game that although it never became truly big, did gain a specific cult following. Its developers Illusion Softworks are now part of 2K Games. It is interesting to note that one of their other franchises, Mafia, is still in existence with a third instalment scheduled for a release in early 2016. Perhaps there is still a possibility Hidden & Dangerous 3 may be made and that the WWII tactical shooter genre will make a return.