'Hidden & Dangerous' is a detailed 'soldier sim', produced by Illusion Softworks of the Czech Republic, and released by Talonsoft / Take 2 Interactive in 1999 to rapturous reviews and impressive sales. Essentially a mixture of 'Delta Force' and 'Rainbow Six' set in World War 2, it took the form of a series of missions in which your four-man commando team were called upon to rescue partisans, blow up Nazi installations, retrieve documents and so forth. Like 'Delta Force' it contained some impressive outdoors locations (although polygonal), and like 'Rainbow Six' the emphasis was on careful planning and sudden violence.

Your team could be controlled individually, or by issuing orders, either in the 'Follow me!' form, or by placing waypoints on a map - similar to 'Rainbow Six', but with the planning taking place during the mission instead of beforehand. Thus, the game possessed a tactical element lacking from most contemporary shoot-em-ups, something which appealed to a gaming public becoming increasingly jaded with endless variations of 'Quake II'.

The game's strengths were its mixture of realism, detail and derring-do, and, in the UK at least, the prospect of fighting the Nazis with a Sten Gun and hand grenades appealed to those who have fond memories of watching 'Where Eagles Dare' on wet Bank Holidays.

Other positive points included the ability to capture enemy vehicles, the interesting resource management element (after your initial supply dwindled, each multi-mission campaign required you to steal German equipment), and the imaginative level designs, each one seeming to evoke a different war film (there was at least one definite 'Dirty Dozen' mission, for example).

Against it, the game was crushingly hard in an unfair way - the German soldiers were impossibly accurate at extreme range, whilst each mission allowed a single save point - and furthermore there were a great deal of bugs, ranging from game-stopping freezes to some spectacularly odd instances in which your soldiers either fell through the ground into empty space, or simply dropped dead spontaneously!

As of late-2001, a sequel is in the works. The Czech Republic seems to be the leading source for this kind of game, as the superb 'Operation Flashpoint' demonstrates.

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