reviews\ Nov 30, 2002 at 7:00 pm

Deadly Dozen: Pacific Theatre - PC - Review

Buzzing mosquitoes and the sounds of wildlife chattering and hooting among the think brush provide cover for the footsteps of four of the toughest roughnecks in the military. The mission? Do the impossible … infiltrate a fully guarded POW camp to rescue a captured family member of a high-ranking military official. The sniper positions himself next to a tree and takes aim at the gate, where two Japanese guards quietly talk about something unknown. Next, the machine gunner quietly slips into a think bush and points the gun muzzle towards the two unknowing guards, then gives the order … “fire at will”. With a crack of the sniper’s weapon, the first guard drops into a heap. The second guard quickly readies his automatic rifle and begins moving up the hill towards the assassin in a panic … but his efforts prove futile as he is quickly ripped to shreds by a hail of bullets from the second hidden assassin. Two down, and an untold number left to go …


Now that’s exciting! This is a scene that I encountered from the first mission in “Deadly Dozen : Pacific Theater” for the PC. The game is a WWII strategy/action title from Infogrames, and needless to say I was pleasantly surprised by what was originally a quickly overlooked title from me in the shadow of other highly acclaimed WWII titles that have hit the game stores recently. I am really glad I gave this one a chance, and I’ll tell you why …


First of all, if anyone has read my bio you will see that I am a big fan of FPS / action titles. Deadly Dozen gives you the opportunity to control up to four (at the time) of the meanest, baddest WWII soldiers in either a third person perspective or an FPS style of gameplay through multiple missions set in the Jungles of the Pacific. Each level is absolutely huge, and offers tons of positioning options for stealthy movement, hiding, and plenty of ideas on how to best position your platoon to cause the most damage or avoid being seen by the enemy until it is too late … well, for them anyway.


Prior to beginning a mission, you have the option of selecting any four of the twelve members of the Deadly Dozen to serve in your platoon. Each soldier has a list of different strengths and weaknesses, and each one is invaluable in his own way for certain things such as infiltration, explosives, sniping, or a variety of other things … including a Japanese katana blade. These strengths become important depending on the mission, and how you choose to put your unit together helps tremendously in what the final outcome will be to the mission. The characters are all able to have equipment or weapons interchanged, so if you think that they would be better off with something that the game didn’t choose for them, you can do what you want.


The environments, aside from being really large, are also very richly detailed and impressed the heck out of me. Each one is full of things like tall grass, buildings, trees and tree stumps, and a various assortment of other things. These not only provide a great environment for this type of game, but will also provide actual cover and will greatly reduce the chances of being seen of hit if a gunfight ensues … which it will from time to time. To make it even better graphically, when you switch off from one platoon member to the other … the one you controlled before will be the exact way that you had left him. In the scenario I mentioned above, for example, the sniper was only able to see the muzzle of the machine gunner poking out of the bush when I looked over … and that is exactly what I wanted.


On another plus note, the game gives a good variance of missions to accomplish and things to do while engaged in them. One mission might have you infiltrating and destroying warehouses that intel has determined are housing supplies for the enemy … or you may have to go on a search and rescue for captured soldiers. In addition, you can also commandeer vehicles that you come across from time to time, such as fully moving and firing tanks and trucks, or utilize mines or rockets to take the vehicles out rather than drive them … again, it’s your call on how you think the mission will go smoother in the end.


Really, the only downers that I found in this game are periodic AI issues and some background pop up. There were moments where one of my soldiers would act REALLY weird. For example, one of the soldiers in hearing distance (you can tell this also at the top of the screen) just sat where he was when I ordered the platoon to fall in. After the third command, he finally hopped up only to run in a circle four times … then finally decided to quit goofing off and join the rest of us. This was a minor problem in the grand scheme of things, and stuff like this only happened a couple of times and it wasn’t anything that got too frustrating or annoying. The popup in the distance was a little rough in certain moments, and sometimes hid a gunner’s nest or a watchtower that could have proved fatal if I didn’t drop to the ground and back up a little bit. Overall neither one of these caused any do overs or major problems. The only ones I had were due to my rushing or stupidity, and both issues remained easily forgotten as I continued on my way.


Deadly Dozen is a game that may get easily passed over for other titles like Operation Flashpoint, Medal of Honor, or one of many other WWI titles in your local game store. Trust me … to do this is cheating yourself out of one heck of a great game, and this one will probably be one of those underrated titles that doesn’t get the attention it deserves. If you’re looking for a good war-game for that action gamer on your list … they will be happy that Santa picked this one out for their stocking this year.      


Gameplay: 8.8
Solid controls and gameplay that sucked me in after 10 minutes. The levels are huge, and the think underbrush or obstacles provide not only good scenery, but realistic cover. The characters were well done, and each one reflects his personality out in the field of battle through comments or items. There were some goofy AI issues here and there which are sometimes funny, will sometimes make you yell at the computer “what the heck are you doing”, but overall won’t hinder a good and solid gaming experience.


Graphics: 8.9 
The environments are fantastic, and little things like moving bushes when enemies are sneaking through them or brush gently waving back and forth in the wind is found all over the place. The facial expressions on dead soldiers have an eerily realistic look to them, and things like swarms of flies are added for the overall effect. There is a lot of fog in the background, but doesn’t do much to mask environmental popup. This didn’t really cause me any problems, nor did I pay much attention to it because I was so wrapped up in playing.


Sound: 9.4
First of all, the music was very well written and orchestrated. The music will get more of an intense feel to it if an enemy is approaching, and there is even some really sad tunes playing at the eulogy of your characters that were KIA as you played. The voiceovers are great, and the characters will yell things like “I’m hit!” or “HAHA! I got one!” during gameplay.


Difficulty: Medium
There is a definite learning curve to this game, since you can’t just go charging in and start shooting everything up. There are multiple commands to issue and a lot of keyboard keys to use while playing, and it may take some time to get used to. In addition, this isn’t a Doom style FPS, and one or two hits from an enemy is sure to mean death.


Concept: 9.3 
I never played the original Deadly Dozen, so speaking from that standpoint this game was great. The FPS / third person action gameplay mixed in with ordering a squad of soldiers was cool, and this game drew me in to the point where I was looking around the side of the monitor for Japanese scouts as I was playing.


Multiplayer: 9.2
There is a great selection of arenas to choose from, and you can play things like CTF or deathmatch … but also go through missions in a Co-op mode and give orders or chat with other people while playing, which makes for an even better experience.


Overall: 9.0
This was definitely one of the best action titles I have played for PC in a while. Fans of FPS games, third person action, or titles like Rainbow Six or other squad-based titles should pick this one up, and it will probably please a good-sized action audience. This one may get easily passed up, but don’t do that to yourself … even the issues won’t hinder it for you, and it will provide a lot of on or offline fun. 


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