Hidden & Dangerous 2 boasts an impressive array of gear and weapons, like knives, pistols, bolt-action and semi-automatic rifles, various mines and explosives, cameras, compasses, wire cutters, and much more. The weapons are modeled on real WWII firearms, so you'll find the familiar M1 Garand and MP 40 among less familiar arms like the Japanese Arisaka Meiji 38 rifle.
A daring escape run through a canyon.
Your 20 missions take you from wintry Norway to the North African desert to the steamy jungles of Burma to the heart of occupied Europe. Some tasks are unimaginative, generic affairs, like simple raids on small bases where you just go around and blast all the bad guys. One mission is particularly implausible in the context of the game: Your four operatives have to eliminate an entire sprawling town of enemies. Many missions require way too much trial and error. Fortunately, many missions are also very colorful and exciting. In one, you infiltrate a research facility alone to photograph secret materials and then destroy the place. You sneak around silently, knife in hand, ready to dispatch guards. Tension mounts all the while as you rapidly evade a soldier strolling down the hall toward you or as you nearly stumble right into two scientists discussing their work. You get a palpable sense of being thrust into the lion's den. During such missions, you also get to take advantage of the game's unusually detailed disguise system that requires much care on your part. Every part of your uniform and visible gear has to be standard enemy issue, and even then, if you loiter around enemies too long, they'll catch on that you're an imposter.
Some of the other entertaining missions let you tear around in vehicles, like when you commandeer a flak vehicle at an Italian airbase and start blasting their planes to scrap. During one exciting venture, you roar through a canyon in a commandeered German bomber with fighters in hot pursuit. With the John Williams-style music blaring and guns rattling, it feels like something right out of an Indiana Jones movie.
One thing almost all the missions do well is create vivid, wonderfully detailed settings. In the aforementioned research facility, you'll find aerodynamic test chambers, old-fashioned drafting tables, propaganda posters on the walls, and many little items that bring the rooms to life. Buildings all look like real, lived-in places, instead of just a bunch of rooms seeded with guards for you to fight. To add to the believability, the game lets you overhear lengthy conversations between enemy soldiers or scientists. If you know the appropriate languages, some of these can be pretty interesting or amusing, like when a German scientist berates a guard at length for his laxity and then gives him a further tongue-lashing for making excuses. (Vital dialogue is subtitled for your convenience.)
Hidden & Dangerous 2 sports some gorgeous graphics and powerful audio to give these details added impact. The graphics engine may not be on the very cutting edge, but the developers sure made great use of it. The textures are surely some of the best yet featured in a game, with marvelous diversity and attention to detail, from the frost coating a U-boat in Norway to nearly photorealistic canyon walls in Africa to the dried blades of grass in a Czech town. Little details like footprints left in mud, playing cards scattered on a barracks table, and colorful leaves falling from trees in autumn add to the immersion. Loud, powerful sound effects bring weapons fire to life, and a derivative yet fitting orchestral score adds to the ambience. Many of the voice-overs are well above average, and the cutscenes are dramatically directed.
A nice place for camping if it weren't behind enemy lines.
Along with the lengthy single-player campaign, Hidden & Dangerous offers three multiplayer modes: an every-man-for-himself deathmatch, an objective-based mode, and a territorial control mode reminiscent of Day of Defeat or Battlefield 1942. These modes feature some interesting maps, but like the single-player game, multiplayer is marred by major bugs that can make it hard to connect, let alone actually play. Also, there's no cooperative mode, and this is a game that screams out for it since it could help you circumvent the many problems with the AI.
In a word, Hidden & Dangerous 2 is frustrating. It's often frustrating to play, and it's frustrating to see that there's clearly a wonderful game hidden amongst the major bugs, cumbersome controls, questionable AI, and other flaws. When everything works well, Hidden & Dangerous 2 can offer an immersive, exciting mix of strategy and action in marvelously convincing settings. There's a lot of entertainment to be found in this game, but you'll need to wade through a lot of problems to get to it.