You ask anyone about Commandos, and they’ll immediately go into full-on nostalgia mode as they wax lyrical about that one time they poisoned a Nazi officer, used their spy to infiltrate an enemy base and landed a killshot from across the screen with their sniper. Mention Desperados though? The reaction you’ll usually get is “that’s the cowboy Commandos game, right?”.
Desperados deserved to be known as more than just a rootin’ tootin’ reskin of a cult classic game which introduced real-time tactics to the mainstream. 2001’s Desperados: Wanted Dead or Alive was a solid first step into the sandiest of boxes, while 2006’s Desperados 2: Cooper’s Revenge upped the graphical ante and saddled up to deliver a fun successor.
A lengthy fourteen years later, and Desperados 3 is ready to fill its hand with iron once again, shooting not just bullets but cerebral rounds of pure tactical quick decision-making. Developer Mimimi games is riding into town with not only a sequel to a long-forgotten franchise that honours the past, but one that also liberally pinches inspiration from more modern games to create a high noon showdown of brains and brawn.
It’s basically the bastard child of Hitman and XCOM, and I am completely down for that fusion of ideas. Desperados 3 isn’t the game where you can draw fast and just shoot down any obstacle in front of you. Unlike other games in the genre which have all the tact of an old-timey prospector screaming at the top of his lung about there being gold in them hills, Desperados 3 is more surgical and precise in how it wants you to solve the various dilemmas in front of you.
I got a chance to sit down with a preview build, and I liked what I saw. Everything still occurs in real-time, but you’re now able to pause the game, plan a series of actions in advance and then execute them. Combined with an emphasis on stealth and thinking outside of the box, Desperados 3 weaves a combination of point ‘n click exploration with grim karmic justice that you can enact on your targets.
Each character in its cast of misfits have a unique toolkit with which you can experiment, trial and error gameplay is emphasised, and every stage is a puzzle box that can only be solved by slotting the correct piece into place. Which in one stage, revolved around poisoning a local thug’s whisky when she was too busy paying attention to a burlesque dancer, collapsing a church bell on a local legbreaker and getting a would be rodeo legend to taste the high velocity hoof of a bucking bronco that was easily spooked.
And hot dang, I want more of this pard’ner! Desperados 3 is at its best when it makes you weight the consequences behind each decision, nudges you in the right direction as you explore more “accidental” methods which to take a black-hatted varmint off the map and even gives you plenty of tools for settling feuds with a good ol’ injection of lead to the head.
It’s currently due for a full release in the US Summer season on PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4. If the handful of levels I’ve had a go at are any indication to the overall quality of what this surprise sequel has to offer, then I can’t wait for this high plains drifter to mosey on in and lay down some old west justice.
Last Updated: April 6, 2020