Hidden and Dangerous is a squad-based action game ported from the PC to the Dreamcast, similar to Majesco's recent release of Rainbow Six. Also akin to Rainbow Six is the game's heavy emphasis on stealth and strategy over quick reflexes and a high body count. Hidden and Dangerous may not prove to be as visceral as the fastpaced first-person shooters you re used to, though with a bit of perseverance and a lot of patience, it can prove to be a rewarding game.
Hidden and Dangerous is set behind enemy lines in WWII, and you control a squad of SAS operatives. You re given a pool of agents to choose from, as well as weapons, explosives, and other armaments with which to equip your squad. While there's a definite attempt to strategize the planning stages, even the most die-hard military strategists will likely find themselves picking the same operatives over and over again. There are a handful of operatives and equipment choices that are simply the best for most, if not all, of the missions. With consideration for the tedious nature of the equipping stages, an auto setup feature is included which automatically chooses squad members and equipment. For those without that extra patience necessary for this section, the auto setup tends to suffice more often than not.
Once equipped, you send your squad straight into action. In an odd variation from the PC version, the mission overview is not automatically presented before the mission starts. Considering the useful nature of this feature, this decision is fairly confusing. Switching from character to character, youll move the entire squad through the mission manually. There's a map feature that allows you to plan out the actions of your squad members. Unfortunately, the load times for switching from the game to the map are especially long. This, combined with the shameful pathing utilized by the AI, makes this feature less useful than it could and should have been. While the missions tend to be short, the game's intense difficulty level will cause you to go through each mission two or three times before completing them successfully with all squad members intact. Enemy soldiers are crack shots, and more than three shots are rarely necessary to put a squad member down permanently.
PC strategy games have a notoriously difficult time porting to consoles, especially in the control department but Hidden and Dangerous is surprisingly competent in this area. With most PC strategy games relying heavily on a catalog of keyboard strokes for control, a lot is sacrificed when converting to a console controller. Interestingly enough, with combinations of gamepad movements taking over the control duties for the keyboard, Hidden and Dangerous for the Dreamcast suffers less control issues than its PC counterpart - save for the map feature, which is significantly more difficult to navigate. Though there is an extensive library of commands, the controls eventually work quite intuitively. The game also supports the Dreamcast keyboard for those looking for a more PC experience, though it s really a moot point.
Graphically, Hidden and Dangerous is essentially a straight port of the PC version, with no improvements to the textures or cameras. This isnt really much of an issue, as the original was already graphically proficient. Some graphical touch-ups and camera tweaks wouldve been appreciated however, as there is some occasional texture bending and discrepancies with the camera POV. Overall, Hidden and Dangerous is a good-looking game with varied level design and minimal framerate issues.
Hidden and Dangerous' audio doesn't hold up quite so well however. Many sound effects just dont fit the environments they appear in, with tinny gunfire and echoed footsteps that cut off prematurely. The lack of finesse in the sound samples is thankfully balanced out by an excellent orchestral score which reacts to in-game events. Its an effective technique, and when the score ramps up as a firefight ensues, it really gets your blood pumping.
In the end, Hidden and Dangerous for the Dreamcast does little to improve upon the same product presented for the PC, and if you have already played Hidden and Dangerous for the PC, the Dreamcast version doesnt offer much new. But those willing to overlook AI and interface issues (and fans of the Rainbow Six-style action games) would do well to check out Hidden and Dangerous.