Ever since I received a demo disc of 'Desperados' from a cereal box when I was young and played that one level over and over again, I have been following the franchise. Having briefly played the follow-up Desperados II, but gave up due to the difficulty and the fact that it was a literal remake of the first game with updated graphics, I returned to the series with the latest outing, 'Helldorado'.
Rebranded with a new name, the game mechanics is as true to the originals, with the main characters John Cooper, Kate and Doc returning to do some real damage to the Wild West.
With 6 controllable characters in total, each with their own personality and strengths, true teamwork and co-ordination is required to master their skills. NEW to the series is the ability to create combi attacks/skills, for example, John and Kate and reinact a kissing scene or doc and Kate can create a poison blush balloon bomb. This adds another dimension to game play and using characters in a different way.
Featuring 12 original levels, which includes a boring and short tutorial level, 'Helldorado' offers hours and hours of strategic fun. If you've never played any of the 'Desperados' games before, this may feel repetitive and boring, but the timing and actions are key in order to reach the goal of each level.
As there is no direct way to win and the missions are open, you can choose to avoid capture in order to sneak to the destination, or wipe everyone out. The choice is yours. However, be aware that each action has a consequence and there's always someone watching!
Compared to the previous games, the difficulty is still there and the strategy is not always immediately obvious. With many of the skills being limited at level start (ammo/tools can be picked up at designated points), planning is essential to ensure equipment does not run out. However, for those who struggle or find it too easy, there are three difficulty levels to master (number of enemies and number of ammo points vary depending).
Graphically, the game looks beautiful and the settings are well rendered. In third person mode, it is extremely fun to explore the world, but much more difficult to actually play with strategy. In this way, this mode doesn't feel fully developed, but nonetheless fun. 'Helldorado' also introduces a movie mode in which quick actions can be watched from a cinematic camera mode in which you can also share and rewatch those key moments over and over again.
Overall, 'Helldorado' is a solid third game in the series and the new levels expanded on the Desperados world and the characters in a more gripping way. With new skills and modes, the game offered enough ground to explore whilst staying true to the original mechanics.
With short movie sequences dispersed between levels, the story feels more in depth than previous games, but there is a lack of heart and it doesn't feel complete. It is almost as if this game was just another chapter in the series' great overall story. Perhaps a follow up is in order?
Can be purchased on Amazon for around £5. Well worth a play if you are into strategy games and westerns.