Spellbound's likeness of the Commandos series achieves its own spot in the light because of the enjoyment had from it.
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You start off with a lone gunman named John Cooper. A rugged cowboy who wants to do right in the world, but only for a price of course. Your adventures begin trying to capture and kill bandits across the deserts of New Mexico, where you’ll soon become acquainted with old friends to help you along your way, because you’ll definitely be needing all the man and woman power you can get as you come across armies of both the Mexican bandits and even the U.S. Calvary because of a misread altercation between you and a local of a small town. The entire game spans twenty-five levels as you progress across the sometimes flat desert to the towering mountains giving you little cover when dealing with your enemies. But, be rest assured that you’re experience all of the old west in this game, because the developers surely thought of every situation that your group could be put in, whether it’s day or night, or even dealing with small bar fights, this game has it all.
All the characters that you’re provided with throughout the twenty-five missions have unique and different attacks when dealing with their enemies. A nice feature of Desperados is when you acquire a new companion into your group the next mission is usually used as a tutorial of how to use that character’s special attacks or trickery in dealing with the many bandits across the desert. And missions from then on usually make you use those special tricks in some way or another. With each character having five different attacks, it’ll be a little hard to remember them all, but if you do, it’ll definitely help you in the missions later on because it makes the difference in dealing with all the situations you’ll be apart of.
The graphics are much along the lines of the Commandos series, but the prerendered backgrounds seem a little bit more detailed. Spellbound took their time in laying out each individual level for you and your talented group. For a 2D game of its time, with how well the backgrounds look and the small characters within them, this game has exceptional graphics for both its time and genre that it’s in. The characters themselves are small and obviously less pixeled and leave much to be desired when compared to the background. But don’t believe that they’re terrible because again the developer took their time in making sure that the characters look good with dealing with the minute details of guns, ropes, and yes, even little monkeys. There are also a few different objects that your group can interact with throughout the maps. Little medical kits, some TNT, and other things, but these objects can only be picked up with the characters that use them. In between most levels, you’re given a short cinematic to describe and illustrate how the story throughout the game progresses from location to location. The cinematic movies aren’t spectacular, but they look good for the time that the game was released. There aren’t a lot of different graphical settings but you’re allowed to up the resolution up to 1024 X 768 which is nice in the older games. Other options are also available such as shadows for characters and buildings, but chances are if you’re playing this game now, you have a system that’ll easy run this game with all the graphical settings on high, so no worries.
The sound during the game was good. The voice acting is decent, but with some characters, it just didn’t seem believable in what type of character they were trying to portray. There is some background music playing while you’re crawling across the dirt or jumping off a balcony onto your horse down below, but this music really kind of fades away in the tension that you’re caught up with when trying to deal with both your players and the enemies on the screen. The western-themed music does add some atmosphere to the different levels, but it just doesn’t seem like it ever adds enough because of all the tense moments you’ll be going through.
Overall, Desperados: Wanted Dead or Alive falls into a small genre of games that include the Commandos series and Spellbound’s other real-time team-based strategy games like Chicago 1930 and Robin Hood: The Legend of Sherwood. Although these games come few and far in between, it only makes you appreciate more of how hard the developer work for the player to have an enjoyable experience that, not only makes you think how to work out each situation, but also gives you hours upon hours of fun and replayability for each mission. Replayability in the way that you could use different attacks from the different group members in the many tense spots that you’re put in throughout the twenty-five levels. Also much like the other games in the genre, Desperados doesn’t have a multiplayer feature, but it’s truly not needed because of the long enjoyable single player campaign. Anyone who enjoyed the Commandos series will love this new installment in the genre, but newcomers, be forewarned that this genre of games can be hard and frustrating and you’ll need not only a little bit of patience, but also a fast hand to retrieve your gun incase things get hectic.