Review: Desperados III (PC)

Desperados III for PC\Xbox

By Philip Orona

I love a good wild west game. Red Dead Revolver and its sequels were a lot of fun and I am a fan of the genre in both game and film. I grew up on the Clint Eastwood Spaghetti westerns, so it is no surprise when Desperados 3 hit the Xbox pass library, that install button could not be hit fast enough. From the screen shots, It looked a lot like another RTS-RPG favorite Baldur’s Gate but it’s not. From the minds of Mimimi games and THQ Nordic, the game site decribes it as  “A story-driven, hardcore tactical stealth game, set in a ruthless Wild West scenario.”  Break out the hooch and the six shooters because this sounds promising.

The game begins with a young John Cooper raiding a bandit camp with his father. This tutorial stage gets you familiar with the controls and the characters. The game’s mechanics really separates itself from the Baldur’s Gate series by emphasizing stealth over all out battle, which is highlighted in the tutorial. While you could confront enemies in a given scenario, it usually ends with reinforcements being called in and the major possibility of being overwhelmed by enemy units. Better to duck into the bushes and wait for an enemy to strut by and take him down quietly before walking into the next section with a larger crew to deal with. Avoiding the enemy’s eye sight is paramount and you can right click each enemy to see their viewing area. Each playable character you encounter and control has their own set of skills that fall into the categories of stealth attack, direct attack and for some, healing. The game is very keyboard and mouse intensive and playing with a controller would actually be a little difficult. You can opt for real time commands or you can go into a “Show down” which is a paused tactical setup mode where you can set up a string of commands for your team and then unpause to watch them execute your instructions. This helps slow the pace of battle when things start to get hectic which is good because this game isn’t a pushover.

Image from deperatosgame.com

In later stages, you play as a grown up John Cooper and the games mechanics grow more complex as you gather more crew and have to organize their attacks to avoid detection. Get real familiar with those fast save and fast reload keys – you are going to need them. Failure is a huge part of the game. While hostile gunslingers stand at posts or have a set patrol path, it can be difficult to time a quick assassination and hide the body before the next patrol swings by. Once the alarm bell is rung, boy howdy do a lot of pistoleros descend from the local guard house. So strategies require some trial and error, especially if you are trying to meet the optional badge goals.

Image from deperatosgame.com

Each stage has a clear objective. You can call up the list of objectives as well as a map of the area to plan things out. The maps themselves are large, lush and full of challenges. There are also optional objectives to achieve that will earn you badges. This certainly adds a level of replay value as some of the objectives are quite difficult to pull off. There are towns in the game that contain an NPC populace that will sometimes utter clues to solving an objective if you listen to them. There are several ways to solve a problem. When it comes to taking out a target, you can opt to make it look like an accident by engaging a piece of the set (like a crumbling church bell tower) which is usually the most fun option and if you fail and miss, just fast reload and try again. Just don’t forget to save and save often. If you do forget, don’t worry – the game actually reminds you quite frequently. 

The voice acting is excellent and convincing. The backgrounds and character models are rendered very well with vibrant colors and varied stage setups. The music is good and picks up when the enemy is engaged. In the Wild West you really have to capture the sound of the era to keep the player in the experience and it all comes together very well. From the sound of horses in a stable, chickens clucking loudly to alert enemies, to a six shooter being reloaded, nothing was short changed in the audio department.

Desperados III delivers on its promise of Wild West RPG action. It is almost as much for the Metal Gear fandom as it is as it is for the Baldur’s Gate crowd. The Stealth mechanics do much to set this apart from your average RTS-RPG making it a surprising yet enjoyable experience. With about 5 hours of game play down and nearly one chapter finished, it seems like if you stick to the story beats in its easiest setting, you are likely to get about 15-20 hours of gameplay. If you don’t intend on doing a speed run (Which that in itself is a badge for each stage) it’s not hard to imagine double that. For fans of the genre, Desperados III will keep you engaged for quite a while. For casual RPG players, this is still very much worth a look. 

Pros:
Stealth RTS gameplay

Excellent graphic and sound design

Great dialogue and character banter

Constant death blunted by easy fast save/reload 

Cons:
Difficult

Lots of death means lots of do over

Recommended Alternatives:
Baldur’s Gate
Planetscape: Torment

Divinity: Original Sin

Fallout 1

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