In the Dreamcast's short lifespan, gamers were treated to a rather diverse library. Outside of a threadbare selection of RPGs, most genres are represented including the growingly popular squad shooter. Hidden & Dangerous represents another attempt to port what was once largely a PC experience to the Dreamcast.
For most gamers, the obvious contrast in game play will be made to the far better known and selling franchise Rainbow Six. To those familiar with the Tom Clancy games, Hidden & Dangerous will seem built with a very similar experience in mind. Players will conquer a series of missions by choosing characters and equipment best suited to achieve a number of expected goals: rescue, infiltrate, destroy. However, while often following tried and true conventions, Hidden & Dangerous manages to take steps backward in creating an enjoyable console squad shooter.
Squad games live and die quite literally on the quality of your party's AI. Hidden & Dangerous manages to take itself out of the running right away. Not only are your secondary characters rendered superfluous by their suicidal stupidity, a whole mapping feature that at first seems well thought out and necessary becomes moot. Players will quickly realize that outside of controlling every character individually across game maps, attempting to work as a team means working toward failure. Most missions will be completed by using one "super sniper" character who foregoes the concept of squad play altogether. Unfortunately, Hidden & Dangerous has neither the ambition nor control to drop its pretenses and become a passable first person shooter.
Given its failure at basic execution, Hidden & Dangerous comes with a much-improved interface for a PC port. Many of the controller uses are mapped more intuitively than comparable titles, and there is the option to use the Dreamcast keyboard. The menus are easy to use and navigate. Your not ramped into following much in the way of plot, but it's necessary to have your objectives spelled out in the pre-mission briefing. For those not willing to tinker with equipment and characters, there's an auto-choice option that seems to work competently.
At first glance, Hidden & Dangerous makes gains in graphical detail as well. Character animations are less blocky than those seen in Rainbow Six and some of the minute detail can be more impressive. FMV are used in small plot points and briefings and manage to be relatively painless and quick. But extended play manages to mar the surface. Environments are all too often foggy and brown. Whatever this does to improve historical accuracy, it bores the eyes. Even more damning are frequent collision detection issues and slow downs, especially during battle or vehicle usage. This all adds up to a general drabness that Hidden & Dangerous can't escape.
Hidden & Dangerous attempts to walk the tenuous line between simulation and action shooter, but doesn't feel right doing either. While the difficulty curve ramps up in a hurry, your stuck with the same buggy execution throughout. And with your team out of the mix, there's no one to turn to for help. The World War II setting gives it some mileage, but without any multiplayer features to speak of, I can't imagine many wanting to replay through this fairly lengthy game.
Positive moments are few and far between in this lackluster effort. I would suggest interested parties explore all the Rainbow Six material before entering this battle.