Just under 13 years after Helldorado, the Desperados license is back with a third episode, signed Mimimi. Thanks to the experience acquired in the excellent Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun published in 2016, the studio was able to obtain the rights to the license and start developing Desperados III. After an extremely encouraging preview, we were able to get our hands on the final version of the title, and browse it for many hours. Desperados 3 looked to be a great tactical real-time undercover game, but did it live up to its promise?
Desperados III: A new essential for lovers of tactical infiltration
The vast majority of this test was performed on a Windows 10 64x PC with an I7 4790K, GTX 1060 and 8 GB RAM. The PS4 version has also been tested, particularly in terms of rendering and handling.
Desperados III takes place before the very first Desperados. Therefore, we start the adventure with a child John Cooper, accompanying his father on a bounty hunt. We find him a few years later, as he tracks down a certain Frank, with his friend Hector. For his part, Doc McCoy fulfills various contracts, Kate O’hara uses her mastery of disguise to infiltrate the company DeVitt, which is also planning to attack Isabelle Moreau, the little news from the cast. All end up meet and find common goals, pushing them to act together on a number of missions. The goal: find the famous Frank, who collaborates closely with the DeVitt company. This leads the characters from Colorado to New Mexico, passing by the banks of the Mississippi and the dark bayous of New Orleans.
With this new title, Mimimi spends a true course in terms of storytelling, and the characters, who all benefited from the motion capture, are all very well characterized. The cinematic sequences, as well as the dialogues between the characters during the missions, are effective. The primary purpose of this narrative is to create a link between the missions, but also to justify the presence or absence of certain team members during the game, as well as the appearance of the different zones in which we evolve. However, Mimimi manages to go beyond this practical aspect to serve us a story that we follow with pleasure, and characters we care about. The narration is even deep enough for us to be surprised by certain twists and turns, which we obviously let you discover for yourself.
Just like Shadow Tactics and Commando, Desperados 3 is a real-time tactical undercover game, asking players to use character and environmental skills to progress and achieve various set goals. These are varied, ranging from liberation of characters from the destruction of bridges, including the elimination of specific targets, the hijacking of trains, the explosion of doors, the creation of fires, and the recovery of information. All these objectives take place in different zones, the design of which is also very successful, as well as their respective atmospheres.
During the 16 missions of the title, the players will evolve within a desert, cities, private domains, mines and swamps, all with their own characteristics and, of course, very many enemies. To cite two telling examples, cities offer many hiding places, including the interior of certain buildings, as well as a certain verticality, but are full of civilians who will have to be preserved from a fatal fate, while the marshes offer many paths, but their presence makes the movements not very stealthy, the water creating a sound wave and the mud revealing the journey made by the characters. A variety that always revives the interest of the game, even when we fully master the skills of the characters and the synergies between them. We can add to this the many possible interactions with the sets, which allow to eliminate one or more enemies in a contextual way.
These enemies fall into several categories: armed guards, poncho guards, long coats, not to mention civilians, quick to indicate the position of the player if he acts strangely. If simple guards can easily be distracted by a coin, let a disguised character pass by or be seduced, this is not the case with long coats. These adversaries, who can be classified as “elites”, detect the disguises, prove to be more resistant, and detect our characters more quickly. Between the two are the poncho guards, who have the resistance of a normal guard, but who will not be distracted. Even within these classes of enemies, we will find classic pistoleros, but also snipers, often perched on rooftops or platforms. It is up to the player to find the right method of approach to avoid detection, and take advantage of the weaknesses detected.
Let’s talk about the skills of our five characters. John Cooper, who can be considered the main character, is capable of throw a knife and use two pistols at a time. For his part, Hector Mendoza has a very effective ax against the most resistant enemies, a double-barreled shotgun killing everything in its field of action, and a bear trap as discreet as murderous. Kate O’Hara can disguise themselves in order to move freely, but also seduce certain guards in order to isolate them and get rid of them. Doc McCoy is the sniper of the group, but can also stun a group of enemies with a vial, or inject deadly poison into their enemies.
However, the real novelty lies in Isabelle Moreau, whose abilities refer to voodoo. This can indeed use special darts, linking the destinies of two enemies. Therefore, eliminating one of the two linked opponents will eliminate the second without having to approach it. She can also take possession of an opponent to force him to act against his will, and send a cat to distract the guards. Beyond their skills, each character has specific characteristics. Some will have to drag the bodies, others will be able to carry them. Some will be able to swim and climb foliage, ladders or ropes, others will have to find a more classic path.
We already felt it during the preview, but the balance between all these characters and all these abilities is impeccable, and we have a lot of fun trying all the possible combinations. This is particularly evident when we trigger the tactical pause, or Showdown mode, one of the main features of the game. At the touch of a button, the game stops, and the player can program a number of actions for its different characters. Then the player can either trigger all the actions, or restart the game so that the ideal configuration is set up, and then ask the characters to do everything. From all of these possibilities, there is a real feeling of satisfaction, especially since the title is far from obvious, and this as of the normal mode. Difficult to sulk his pleasure when after half an hour of preparation and testing of all kinds, we trigger simultaneous actions and we see that everything is going perfectly. On this point, Desperados 3 is still right, especially since the interface is still as intuitive on PC, allowing decisions to be made very quickly.
Desperados III buckles in about thirty hours for a first run, knowing that blocking players can configure the difficulty through various options. But Mimimi also thought of the most relentless. Each mission has many challenges to achieve, which range from the traditional time objective to the contextual actions to be carried out during the game, passing through specific constraints, which remain optional. All these objectives obviously increase the challenge, but reveal the great replayability of the title. This is a point on which Mimimi insisted, since after each mission, a replay allows the player to review his entire journey, its different actions, and its playing time. An ideal tool to analyze its mission and, perhaps, to consider it differently when doing it again.
For an even greater challenge, Desperados 3 offers a challenge mode, once the eighth level is completed, the content of which is gradually unlocked. These missions, given by a mysterious Baron, give new objectives to achieve in different environments with multiple constraints. To cite a few examples, it is sometimes necessary to eliminate several enemies without any lethal skill, sometimes to transform a mining wagon into a gatling, or even to eliminate absolutely everyone using only firearms and the environment. Currently there are five of these specific missions, but Mimimi has told us that more will follow as free updates. Another challenge existed concerning Desperados III on the side of the Mimimi developers: capitalize on the Shadow Tactics formula, and take the concept even further so that Desperados III is a modern game. Without a doubt possible, this challenge is accomplished with flying colors, even if we sometimes feel a slightly academic execution of the principles stated in the previous title. A very small defect, which takes absolutely nothing away from the excellence of the game in terms of gameplay. On the rendering side, Desperados III focuses above all on effective artistic direction, credible entertainment, and an atmosphere that would appeal to fans of the Wild West and Louisiana.
As for the technique, the title runs perfectly, both on PS4 and on a modest PC configuration. Only very rare bugs appeared, and they all concerned the pathfinding of enemies. For example, we were able to watch a guard group stay put instead of patrolling. But to be honest, this concern only appeared twice in 35 hours of play, which is quite honorable. The only other little black dot concerns the grip with the joystick. Mimimi has made many efforts to be effective, but the multitude of possible actions and the need to be reactive at times makes it quite difficult with a pad in hand. We’re getting used to it, but the keyboard and mouse controls are much more efficient.
- The gameplay, subtle and deep
- The tactical, enjoyable break
- A narrative more advanced than usual
- The variety of environments and objectives
- A difficulty noted, but mastered
- Relentless AI
- A real artistic touch
- Very high replayability
- Long loading times
- A grip with the pad unsuitable for gender
- Small subtitles, impossible to adjust
- A slightly academic overall execution
At the time of concluding this test, it is difficult not to have the impression of being in front of the new benchmark of the genre when we play Desperados III, even if the latter does not reinvent the wheel. From its effective narration to the depth of its gameplay, through its replayability and its challenges, Desperados III achieves almost flawlessness, and, if you are fans of the genre, we can only advise you to go for it. Desperados III is a demanding game, which knows how to remain welcoming for newcomers, thanks to welcome settings. But the title is above all of great generosity, which will keep the players and their thinking skills going for many hours. If Mimimi perfects its formula in all areas, some will regret that the studio is not more out of that comfort zone.
June 12, 2020 at 17:00:00
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