First Impression: Desperados III (PC – Steam) ~ Pimping Nostalgia

Official websiteSteam store page

I still remember when I first played the original Desperados back at a friend’s place. It didn’t take long for me to get hooked. To be very honest, I never really beat the original game. That’s mainly due to my playstyle. In action games, I love being more aggressive and “in your face” instead of being stealthy what that game more required. When the 3rd game got announced and released in 2020, I was beyond hyped to play it. But, a lot of different games just distracted me. I was also afraid that I wasn’t going to enjoy the game too much since… yeah my playstyle. But then, this month’s Humble Bundle got a key for Desperados III and I bought it. I started playing this game and yeah. I wasn’t wrong putting this game on my top 10 games I’m looking forward to in 2020 list. But, what exactly do I think about it? Well, I’ll explain in this article while I invite you to leave a comment in the comment section with your thoughts and/or opinions on this article.

Pimping nostalgia

While this is the 3rd main entry in the series, you don’t need to have played the first two games to enjoy the story in this game. Since, this game is a prequel to the first game. Basically, the backstories of the main characters are set up in this game. While we see a few familiar faces to the originals two games, we also see two brand-new characters.

The pacing of the story is a little weird. Because, the main setup of the story is explained over the whole first chapter. You don’t want to know how many times I have rewritten this section to avoid spoiling something. Let’s just say that the story of this game is quite interesting and doesn’t disappoint for your typical Western story.

The story doesn’t overpower the game, since the star of the show is the gameplay. But, the story doesn’t disappoint at all. I love the voice acting of all the characters. The performances are amazing and fit their characters as a glove. I was surprised to learn that this game got a completely new cast to play the characters. If I hadn’t looked that up, for some characters I wouldn’t have been able to tell.

So, let’s move on from the story and characters and start talking about the gameplay. In this game, you have to complete several missions with a small group of characters. Each mission is different and not only in terms of the map you play on. For example, in one mission, you are trying to fight your way to the dock without any of your weapons and in another mission, your group is separated into two groups that start at the other side of the map.

Survival is awareness

If you want to survive in these missions, you have to be very aware of the characters in your crew. The main cast exists out of 5 characters. And all five of them have different weakness and strengths.

One character can throw a knife whilst the other is a sniper. Understanding their abilities and when you use them, is key. Something that this game does extremely well is that there are various ways of tackling each mission. So, you can play this game however you want.

The additional missions you can do in each chapter, give a clue on how different you can beat each mission. There are even missions where you can beat it without having to kill one guard. Whilst you are playing through a mission for the first time, the optional missions aren’t revealed to you. When you are playing through it again, then you can see the optional missions. You can earn badges for a more “perfect” score as well. On top of that, after beaten several missions, you can unlock new challenges where you can replay a mission with additional challenges and/restrictions.

The difficulty curve of this game is just polished extremely well. When a new character gets introduced, the mission is a sort of tutorial on how to use that character. I still remember that in the original game, after you rescue a character, you get a mission with barely any enemies where you learn how that character works. Not in this game. You get various “papers” you can pick up that show a short movie on how the mechanic works. This is such a breath of fresh air.

Something I adore in this game as well is the quick save and the quick load system. You might think that this mechanic is quite aggressive. Since, when you haven’t saved in a hot minute, you get a pop-up almost in the middle of your screen. But believe you me, it’s a great reminder. It makes this game way less frustrating when you make a tiny mistake or want to try something. Also, when you accidentally quick save in a situation that leaves you in a sort of soft lock, in the pause menu you always have your three last saves. So, you can roll back further when needed.

A big improvement compared to the first game as well is the speed up & the pause feature. With a simple press of a button, you can slightly speed up the gameplay. Which can be handy to speed up the patrol of a guard you are trying to sneak past. Now, the pause feature is something quite special. With this feature, you can pause the game and plan out a choreography to take down various enemies at once. You can cue up one character double shot while another character sneaks in to give a deadly shot to the third enemy. Once I was able to take out a patrol of five enemies with one pause and let me tell you how amazing it fells when it all goes to plan.

Apart from understanding how your characters work, it’s also quite important to understand your enemies. There are several groups of enemies that each have their unique traits. For example, you have Poncho enemies who don’t react to traps and distractions. And you have long coat enemies who are difficult to take out and need three hits to be taken out. And if you don’t take them out in one time, and they spot you, and they hit you… Well, instead game over.

With a simple right click on an enemy, you can make their view cone appear. As soon as you walk in their view cone, you can get spotted. When moving a character, you need to get out of the view cone before it goes red. Since, as soon as it turns red, an alarm is raised and nearby enemies come to help and track you down. But, you can also “view cone surf” where you sneak from one view cone to the next. Confusing the surrounding enemies can possibly be sneaking away.

Let’s do this again.

In the previous section, I mostly explained how the gameplay works. I only explained some of the more basic mechanics. The whole puzzle aspect of this game and the quick thinking you have to do in this game is quite addictive. While I’m playing through this game on the easiest difficulty setting, I still feel that this game is quite challenging.

I tried to play this game on higher difficulty settings, and it’s too brutal for my tastes. Thankfully, you aren’t punished with too many fewer mechanics or other penalties because you aren’t playing on the highest difficulty setting. The gameplay is still addicting. It’s a prefect example of “easy to play but hard to master”. Just like I said in the previous section, awareness of everything is key in this game. Awareness of where you hide your characters, how many enemies are around, who has which abilities, which opportunities you have to kill or knock out an enemy, blind spots …

Now, in order for this style of game to work, you’ll need a good set of controls. And this game controls amazingly. The controls are fast and responsive and apart from some minor moments I don’t have any problems with them. Something I struggle with sometimes is remembering that certain actions like throwing a torch required me to press an additional button. Or that when I want to retrieve the knife, I don’t have to pick up the dead body.

I rarely use the keyboard shortcuts for my characters to preform actions. But did you also know that you can totally remap them to however you want? It’s mind blowing that this game allows you to do that. It’s a great tool to customize and personalize the game to your liking.

So, the gameplay in this game is a blast. I rarely felt that the game cheated me out. And the quick save and quick load system makes this game a ton more fun. Something I can appreciate as well is how detailed this game is. Visually, this game looks stunning. For the low system specs that this game requires, this game is turning out mighty fine visuals. Also, I haven’t noticed any moments where the frame rate stuttered or went down to unplayable numbers.

Maybe it’s because of my playstyle, but I sometimes wish I took more time to enjoy the visual presentation of this game. The environments, the animations of this game… they look amazing. The run that the citizens do to get away from danger is just beyond funny. It’s a sort of Naruto run and I often have a hard time focusing on the mission when I see them running.

In addition to that, the music of this game is just pure ear candy. It’s very memorable but also a blast to listen outside the game. When I’m writing an article about a game, I usually listen to the soundtrack in the background. This article is no different and whilst listening to the soundtrack I was able to play the missions inside my head.

Add to that, the great sound effects that add to the atmosphere of this game, and you have a top-notch audiovisual design. I don’t have any complaints about them. They help me quite a lot during the game. Especially, they can be great to know if you are spotted or not.

So far, I have mostly been raving about this game. Are there actually things I didn’t like about this game? Well, to be honest, I don’t have a lot of negative things to say. There is one mission I disliked beyond belief, and I was stuck at for quite a long time. But, when I was passed it, I was able to play through this game and continue enjoying it. Later, I returned to that mission, and I was able to beat it more easily because I got more used to some characters.

The only thing I could criticize in this game is that the hint system isn’t flawless. Often times, I had it bug out on me and giving me hints to parts of the mission I had already completed. But, it’s a mechanic you can just let aside.

In conclusion, I personally think that if you enjoyed the original games, find the concepts I have explained in this article interesting, enjoy stealth/tactical gameplay and/or enjoy action-puzzle games… I seriously think that this game is worth checking out. I’d highly recommend this game on PC, since I don’t think you can translate the complex controls on a controller too well.

I have barely any negative things to say about this game, so I think it won’t be a surprise that I boot up this game again after publishing this article. It’s a thrilling ride from start to finish and really tests your skills that you learn through playing this game. The witty banter between the characters or the enemies you can listen in are such a blast or can even give you a hint on how to beat the mission.

And with that said, I think I have said everything that I wanted to say about this game for now. I want to thank you so much for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed playing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.

Re: What makes a good RPG?

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Link to the original article

When I was surfing at “my” other blog, I found that somebody made a comment to an article that David wrote about, “what makes a good RPG?” And I thought to myself, why don’t I do that exercise for myself? So, I started thinking and thinking. What makes a good RPG? I tried to think back at all RPG’s I played and now I think I finally have an answer. I’ll be commenting on the original article David wrote on ButtonSmashers. My goal is to check how much opinions actually differ. Just a fun little experiment. But feel free to comment here about my view on things. And don’t forget to leave a like on that article. 

J-RPG vs RPG

So David claims that J-RPG wins over the Western RPG’s. Let’s do the test. Is this true? Or is it just his personal preference? If I need to answer the question myself, I would agree. Japanese RPG’s are better. I find myself liking it’s content more then western RPG’s.  But which RPG’s have you played? Final Fantasy? Dragon Quest? Golden Sun? Skyrim? I hate to break it too you but 3 out of these four are J-RPG’s.

But if you look at it, David has a good point. If you try to list the amount of known Western RPG’s against the known J-RPG’s, it’s clear who wants that round. It’s Diablo, Elder Scrolls, Fall-Out, Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic VS Final Fantasy, Golden Sun, Dragon Quest, Lufia….

Does that mean that J-RPG’s are better the Western RPG’s? Well, no. Actually not. Does one suck? No, not at all. Or are the Western RPG’s better then the J-RPG’s? No, that’s not the case. In fact, they are actually equals. Let me explain. J-RPG’s and Western RPG’s have a very different style of gameplay. The core idea of leveling up a character is still there. But the execution is too different to say which one is better then the other. In my opinion is as stupid as trying to decide which kind of soccer is better. In a hall, on the street or professional level. Since it are two separate worlds, So, why comparing and trying to decide which one is better. Silly stuff in my book.

Importance of the elements.

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Ah, Lufia II on the SNES.

So, here is where I actually disagree with David.

So what about art, music, mechanics and voice acting? Surely a good RPG needs those elements?

With the exception of music, the answer is no, none of the stuff listed are needed. They add icing to the cake definitely, and increase the enjoyment of some games. But the only thing that’s really needed is a great story backed by a killer sound track.

I simply don’t think so. Honestly, the mechanics are truly important as well. Yes, the music is important as well. And it’s true that the voice acting isn’t that crucial. Like one of my favorite RPG’s on the DS, Suikoden Tierkreis has terrible voice acting yet it’s an amazing RPG.

A killer soundtrack, well David, let’s be real here. How boring would a game be with repetitive music or no music at all? Music spices everything up.

But mechanics are important. And why? Well, let’s take a J-RPG to explain my point. Final Fantasy 13 for the XBOX360. From what I read, the mechanics are so watered down that you can’t explore and like in a spoof that JonTron made, “the game plays by itself.” So, hold the phone here. This game has barely no mechanics yet a killer soundtrack… Oh dear.

Mechanics are important to help the player go to guide through the game. If the only thing you need to do is use some different attacks without it really having depth, a game becomes boring. And it may even have the best story ever written, only the patient and dedicated players will play it. But it wouldn’t make for a good RPG.

Lux Pain is another example for on the Nintendo DS that came dangerously close for me. In this game, you do the same thing over and over again. There was little to no variation in that game. Lucky enough, near the middle it truly picked up and it became interesting.

To close this segment off, the fact that you need a good backstory goes without saying. It keeps the player engaged into your game.

My opinion.

1207284085_1201013112_orcselvesii200709051101ea6When I continue to read the article David wrote, it becomes more and more clear to me that the article is pretty much his opinion. And while I respect his opinion, I clearly showed I disagree when even reading the first few paragraphs.

And that’s the beauty of blogging. You can look at other people’s article(s) to get idea’s and maybe you can react. But if I would talk about my opinion about the whole article, we would be here another day as well.

So, that beauty boils down to personal preference. A good RPG would be one where all the elements that make a good game, mix together quite nicely. A good soundtrack, with a great story, enriching gameplay and great mechanics. Add some great mood setting graphics and some nice sound design with it and you have a great RPG. But if you give us voice acting, then the RPG isn’t anything short for amazing. While, truth to be told, maybe RPG’s are really great without it. Early RPG’s serve as a great example.

But if I really need to try to answer objectively on the question “what makes a good RPG?” well, then I would need to say that a game is a good RPG when it’s successful in tricking you or making you believe or making you feel like the main character. If you feel as a lonely survivor in Fall-Out or as a world saving hero in Final Fantasy, then the game is a good RPG.

Personally, a good RPG is a game that challenges me, gives me a story I’ll remember and is one where you grow along with your character. How more grinding there is, the less happy I’m. I like to continue on. I dislike being stuck.

Anyways, I think I’ll close off my article here. Thanks David from the ButtonSmashers for writing this interesting article. It was surely a nice read. You made some great points. I silently hope you give this article a read and made a comment? Thanks for reading and hopefully until my next article!