Deadly Dozen Review

Deadly Dozen is a tactical, squad-based shooter from Infrogrames that is priced for the budget software market.  When it comes to budget priced games, you usually get what you pay for, but in the case of Deadly Dozen, gamers get some bang for their 20 bucks.

The game's storyline goes something like this:  During the height of World War II, twelve misfit soldiers were recruited to form an elite commando unit.  The soldiers were all skilled, but lacked discipline and respect for authority.  However, when brought together and trained as a commando unit, they became such a finely tuned special unit, that Eisenhower himself nicknamed the unit the Deadly Dozen.  Now they are being sent into Germany's Fortress Europa to cause havoc behind the enemy lines and it is up to you to complete their missions and get them back alive.

The game unfolds as a series of missions which specify a set of objectives which must be completed before your squad can move to the extraction point and move on to the next mission.  Before each mission begins, you are provided with a briefing outlining these objectives and a squad selection screen.  On the selection screen you are given the statistics for each member of the Deadly Dozen - each are rated on a 100 point scale on such skills as small arms, explosives, and stealth.  From these 12 soldiers you must select a squad of four to take into battle with you.  You'll need to be careful with your soldiers, because any that are killed in action will not be available for future missions.  Finally, you select the weapons and any special items (such as med kits) that each soldier will carry into combat and then the mission begins.

Each of the game's 10 missions take place in large environments that feature both indoor and outdoor locations.  While the mission events are scripted and the locations of enemy soldiers fixed, the size of the mission maps allow the player a lot of freedom in choosing how to approach each mission.  The player takes the control of one of the soldiers (the game can be played in first or third person mode) and can issue a simple set of commands to the other squad members.  These commands consist of follow me, hold position, fire at will, hold fire, and a few squad formations.  Most of the time it is best to just leave the squad in the follow and free fire modes, and the choice of formation does not appear to have all that much of an effect on things.  The player can also switch to control over any of the squad members at any time during the mission.

The game's graphics are pretty good; definitely better than what one usually finds in budget titles.  Trees, buildings, and other parts of the environment are nicely rendered and the movements of soldiers and vehicles are convincingly realistic.  There are a couple of complaints, though.  First of all, the building interiors are pretty bland - the surface textures are not very detailed and appear blocky, and most rooms are empty save for the occasional chair or table.  Secondly, the game makes far too much use of fog effects.  Sometimes the fog is very appropriate and adds a lot to the mission's atmosphere, such as the mission which takes place during a rainy afternoon in France.  At other times, though, it is out of place.  The designers might have made use of the old console trick of using fog to squeeze more power out of the graphics hardware, but have instead lent a degree of frustration to the game.