The Old West has been largely ignored as a setting for computer games. Desperados sets out to correct this oversight by taking the player through a series of missions set in a wide variety of Western locales, all tied together by a story that will evoke memories of classic Westerns.
In Desperados, Cowboy John Cooper leads a band of six desperados across the Old West in pursuit of the vicious bandit El Diablo. Each member of the posse brings a unique set of skills to the gang, and careful use of the right person for each task is critical to your success. For example, Sam is an explosives expert while Doc prefers the subtleties of various knock-out gasses.
Your pursuit of El Diablo will take you through 25 missions in a wide variety of environments, from ghost towns to gold mines. The missions will evoke a sense of deja vu in Commandos players, as Desperados' gameplay is quite similar to that World War II game series. Although you are the 'good guys', it seems that a lot of people are out to get you and your gang, so you'll need to do a lot of sneaking around. Using the special abilities of your posse's members to avoid or stealthily 'remove' guards is a staple of most of the missions. If you are detected, guards often run for help, returning with several buddies bent on making your life difficult and short. If any of your gang is caught (or killed), the mission will end in failure.
To help you sneak around, you have the ability to toggle 'sight cones' for the various enemies and easily frightened locals. These will show you their field of vision, helping you to stay out of sight. Unfortunately for you, though, your enemies can also hear - go running past a chicken coop or start shooting your gun off in the middle of town and you will surely attract unwanted attention.
You'll quickly learn to use each character's special abilities as the story progresses and they are reunited with your gang. This is accomplished through the use of 'tutorial missions', tightly scripted missions which follow a mission in which a new character is added to your posse. These missions will demonstrate situations where a special skill may come in handy and give you an opportunity to practice the skill. It works nicely to help you understand the capabilities of a new character without forcing you to do a lot of trial and error in a 'live' mission.