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Game review: Desperados III (Xbox One)

24 Aug 2020

I’ve never played a Desperados game before. Considering that the last game in the series came out over a decade ago to only so-so reviews, it’s hardly surprising. 

In the sometimes frantic mess that is confirming the platform to review games on, I mistakenly requested Xbox One for a game that I figured would be best played on PC. Regardless of the advantage of a huge 4K HDR display, for me, playing strategy games with a gamepad is akin to using my mouse with my feet. With Desperados III, though, I was pleasantly surprised. Whilst it does lack the precision of mouse control, the user interface has been designed for easy use with an Xbox One controller. 

This third game is set in the 1870s and serves as a prequel to the previous games, so there’s no need to know anything that has gone before. The story primarily follows the adventures of the bounty hunter, John Cooper, who is on the trail of the man that killed his father.

At first glance, the game looked a bit retro. But, in fact, the visuals are crisp and not at all like the screenshots of the game that I’d seen, previously. I’d assumed that the game had static, pre-rendered backgrounds, which is not the case at all. The game is in full 3D and you can rotate the camera to get the best angle. The game’s visual style and presentation, overall, is very polished.

As Cooper journeys to New Orleans, he is joined by a number of other characters that players can switch to between during play. Each character has their own unique abilities.

Each location has a number of objectives for John and his companion(s) to complete. Desperados III is played in real-time. Players must carefully plan their strategy to avoid unwanted attention. 

There’s a lot of sneaking about and detracting enemies, in order to take them out without alerting their friends. John, for instance, has a coin that he can throw to distract opponents to make them look away so he can slip by undetected. He also has a throwing knife for silent kills, either at a distance or from behind and two pistols that can take out multiple targets when noise isn’t an issue. Guns have limited ammo, refills which can be found in crates.    

As well as controlling the characters in real-time, the Showdown feature allows players to record a series of movements and actions for each character. This allows for coordinated strategies that can be used to dispatch multiple opponents, or complete tasks, using each character’s unique abilities.

The game encourages players to try different strategies. There are constant reminders to save your game. This allows you to try out more outlandish plans, reloading if you fail. There are often multiple ways to complete the tasks at hand. I found that I had no problem trying out an idea multiple times before being successful. You’ll find yourself dropping bells, facades and even using an angry bull to dispatch your targets. 

Once you have completed your mission, the game displays an animated map of the level showing the methods and path that you took. Each map has plenty of replay value. No playthrough will be the same.

To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much, but I had a lot of fun playing Desperados III. The visuals are detailed and the game gives players plenty to work with. I say that it is an easy game to overlook, but you are into a bit of real-time strategy in an interesting setting, you should give the game a go.

Verdict: 8.5/10