Wild West games: “Desperados 2: Cooper’s Revenge” (PC)

Spellbound Entertainment’s Wild West strategy game Desperados 2: Cooper’s Revenge takes a 3D turn, but is for the better or not?

Desperados 2: Cooper’s Revenge (PC)
(Germany 2006, developer: Spellbound Entertainment (now defunct), publishers: Atari SA/THQ Nordic, platform: PC)

John Cooper and his friends are on a tour of revenge against the criminal Angel Face who killed the marshall’s brother.

More or less storytelling
With more cutscenes, one would expect a more epic story and better character development. While the premise of a revenge story and the involvement of a Native American as a new companion should make for a good Wild West tale, the outcome isn’t very compelling. It’s mostly lacking in memorable moments, which is a shame because the Wild West atmosphere is all present and correct once again, as can especially seen in the last chapters with shoot-outs in Santa Fe and boarding a train to chase after a villain.

The characters might set themselves apart in-game, but except for a few funny scenes, one doesn’t learn or care much about them, making both story and protagonists rather forgettable. An unnecessary cliffhanger adds even more frustration to a plot that ends on a rather sappy note.

Different strokes and missions
The level design again offers varied mission goals, and as the 18 missions are divided into six chapters with individual levels, they present different challenges in illustrious locations and offer a playtime of 15-20 hours. The bite-sized progression works well and ranges from stealth to more action-focused gameplay. Listening to conversations of people to find out if they’re enemies and staying out of sight or incapacitating instead of killing them makes for a tense and fun mission.

However, other levels aren’t so successful, not only because of 3D engine problems, but because they seem to just try to tick off the Western cliché boxes, e.g. protecting a caravan of settlers from oncoming enemies who ride around them and have to be shot down.

Not so clear goals
One is usually thrown into a mission without any explanation. Unlike the previous game, one doesn’t receive an overview of a level, but has to read the mission briefing and figure out where to go and what to do. This becomes problematic if one has to complete multiple objectives, e.g. in Chapter 4 when one has to bring down traitors in a rather expansive environment.

It’s even more frustrating that the mission objectives shown on the map don’t correspond to the initial camera view, so that one has to rotate it in order to figure out where the heroes, targets and other misson-critical locations are.

Two too difficult(ies)
One can choose between two difficulty modes, but even with the easier setting, one faces a tough challenge, in no small part due to the sheer number of enemies in certain levels. The first game sometimes made the gung-ho attitude instead of the stealth-y approach a viable option. This time, the latter might make matters actually much more entertaining.

A different perspective
For the first time, one can switch from an isometric viewpoint (that can be zoomed in and out) to the third-person perspective. Taking control of a hero can be disorientating, as one doesn’t have an overview of the environment being so close to the action, but it helps to better target enemies, turning the game more into a shooter, although without the finesse.

Unique characters and playstyles
Of course the different approaches to complete a level depend on the individual characters’ special abilities. In addition to the already established ones of the first game, the native American Hawkeye can be taken control of who uses a bow and arrows or a tomahawk to dispose of enemies.

Planning and failing is everything
Unlike its predecessor, one can pick up more ammo or other resources, e.g. tequila bottles, arrows, gas phials, etc. from downed enemies, with unique items becoming more frequent in the lower difficulty mode.

This obviously makes planning a bit less essential, as one can be lucky to find more items and therefore finish a level faster. In most cases, the third-person shooter approach is more rewarding, as it’s often too much of a hassle to sneak around with too many enemies to take care of or to evade.

Due to the sluggish movements of both friends and foes, none of the two perspectives delivers a tense strategy or action experience. Enemies often seem to react faster and are more accurate with aiming, making reloading a past savegame an annoying necessity.

Unclean technology
The game doesn’t only have constant camera problems, but is riddled with bugs. The AI is already pretty bad, with characters stuck in objects or trying to run around other people, making some time-sensitive segments more difficult than they need to be. Even worse are the inexplicable moments when certain heroes fall through levels, i.e. one can send them around, but they can’t be seen anymore.

3D meh, but sounds good
The game’s graphics haven’t aged very well, as the 3D engine was already outdated when it was released. The closer one is to the action, the more obvious it becomes how bad they look. While one could live with the poor 3D graphics, the cutscenes can’t be excused. CGI sequences have been replaced with postcard-like stills that feature terrible character designs, taking away much of the drama and suspense.

Voice acting has improved and isn’t as off-putting as the exaggerated lines of the first game, while the Western music is again great, saving the atmosphere somewhat.

3D or not doing 3D is no question
Desperados 2: Cooper’s Revenge is another example of how jumping on the 3D bandwagon isn’t always the best idea when it comes to some genres. Playing the game like a third-person shooter makes it more fun, and while the missions are varied, quality also varies between great and acceptable.

The Wild West atmosphere is still left intact, but with the 3D technology, bugs, and bad graphical presentation of the storyline that isn’t particularly thrilling, one wonders if it would all have worked much better to simply build on the 2D groundwork of Desperados: Wanted Dead or Alive.

Score: 6.5/10

Buy the digital version for PC on
GOG
Steam

Buy the retail version for PC on
Amazon Germany
Amazon UK
Amazon USA

Official website

If you liked reading this article, make sure to LIKE it or comment on it on EMR’s Facebook page :). Or FOLLOW the blog on EMR’s Twitter page.
Using the GOG or Amazon links and buying the product also helps ;).

About nufafitc

Being an avid gamer, cinemaniac, and bookworm in addition to other things the internet and new media present, I'm also very much into DIY music, rock and pop in particular. Writing short or longer pieces about anything that interests me has always made me happy. As both an editor for German website "Adventure-Treff" and UK website "Future Sack", I like to write reviews and news about recent developments in the movies, games and book industry.
This entry was posted in Game reviews, Gaming. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Wild West games: “Desperados 2: Cooper’s Revenge” (PC)

  1. Pingback: Overview of (blog) life in July 2021 | Emotional Multimedia Ride

  2. Pingback: Wild West games: “Helldorado” (PC) | Emotional Multimedia Ride

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.