Review: Desperados III – SENSES

Entertaining real-time strategy that captures the feel of the Wild West well.

DesperadosThe games have never been a massive audience success, with the same Commandos they still had their fair share of fans. Now comes Desperados 3 under the cultural benefactors THQ Nordic’s flag and we have pushed our way through the Wild West, to deliver an assessment of the experience.

desperados 3 train robber
Photo: THQ Nordic

IN Desperados 3 the story is told of Cooper, a gunman in the West who solves problems and takes on assignments, often in the company of other like-minded people. The first course is an exercise course where Cooper is just a boy, and you learn the basics in an educational way. Then it goes from train robberies to small western holes to be cleaned out of villains and various other nasty opponents in the form of bosses.

desperados 3 city
There are plenty of details, which seem to work best on PC.

The layout is classic real-time strategy (RTS) – you move your figure (or figures) on a map with enemies that you can look at and that often have a certain pattern in where they look or where they go. Insidious and silent executions with throwing knives, bear traps (!) Or knock-outs at close range are best, because if you are discovered – or someone hears the bang from your guns – then hell breaks loose and you have seconds to find a hiding place before an army of soldiers ensures that you are born for worms. For your help you have lures (for example coins, whistles and stuffed bags with surprising explosives that you can throw, to lure the villains to a certain place or out of sight) and also unique features and weapons of each character that you should take full advantage of to clear all paths.

desperados 3 western city
The Western feel is really there in Desperados 3.

It’s a matter of slow speed Desperados 3. You often die and the smallest mistake often means safe death and restart – that is the whole point of Desperados 3, to dare, possibly make mistakes and in that case to redo. You can save as fast as you like (the game reminds you when a minute has passed) which is grateful as you do not have to replay at all because you are pedaling awkwardly. At the same time, it gets damn pushing on spades and downright scratchy so the game doesn’t get very difficult; then you can quickly just reset the board and try a different strategy. But the alternative with sparse checkpoints would be devastating for a precision game like this. There is also a special “showdown” mode, where you can stop the time and plan one or more steps and then execute the commands as on rails. Neat!

desperados iii new orleans

The graphics are good, not a bit of detail richness, but the feeling of dusty western environments is there and you can rotate the map freely (it takes a little while to get used to all the buttons, but you still learn relatively quickly). We lack more details, especially on a large 4K image: the game has a “graphics” and “performance” mode on PS4 Pro, where we usually prefer it later, but since the game is flowing well, we gladly take the extra details here . HDR had probably done a lot for the over-all contrast and luster presentation as a whole. The sound is all the better, with incredibly well-mixed and beautiful western music tracks, good sound effects and associated, husky voices from the American south of the characters.

desperados 3 kate o'hara
Every playable character in Desperados 3 has its strengths. And weaknesses.

RTS is a genre that became big in the 90s, with games like that Command & Conquer (recently remastered with modern graphics by EA) and Warcraft (Blizzard’s old, original trilogy) and nowadays is not that common anymore. Anyone expecting an action game with cowboy shoot-outs, or some kind of dungeon crawler á la ”Diablo with revolvers, “is going to be disappointed. But for those of us who like to think about, test quick strategies and work with creative solutions, here is enough entertainment and variety to reward the patient and give us a warm recommendation.