There’s a simple reason why real-time tactics games in the vein of Commandos have always been a bit of a niche: they’re harder than riding rodeo on a raging bull. With all the complexity of turn-based tactics games, but with the added pressure of patrolling guards threatening to ruin the best-laid plans at any second, these games are a ruthless trial of thinking on your feet.
Desperados 3 developer Mimimi Productions knows that’s a big part of the genre’s thrill; the joy of a multi-layered plan coming together is amplified by the difficulty of pulling it off. But the devs have already shown in their previous game Shadow Tactics that it’s possible to keep that intensity while adding new elements to make it deeper, more stylish (and crucially, more fun).
Desperados 3 is in many ways true to the original 2001 game, giving you real-time control of up to five unique vagabond types, each with their own skillset.
You can combine their talents in any number of ways - for example by using Kate O’Hara to flirt with a guard while main man Cooper knifes another in the back, before she kicks her hapless admirer in the old golden nuggets so Cooper can mosey over and hogtie him.
It’s classic real-time tactics stuff, but the new Showdown mode gives it a whole extra dimension.
With the press of a button, Showdown mode pauses the game, letting you queue up actions for each member of your team. This means you can set up elaborate plans to take out swathes of enemies simultaneously while barely giving them a chance to react.
It’s still tough to do, with one unaccounted enemy capable of unravelling it all with a gunshot, but in the right hands, the tactical possibilities of Showdown mode are endless.
If real-time tactics games are about the thrill of seeing complex plans executed to perfection, then Showdown mode is a confident step forward for the genre.
You can also use Showdown mode to pause the action then hold a fast-forward button to move time forward, giving you more granular control over the tempo of the game. If you’re a more hardcore player who thinks all this sounds a little /too/ convenient, just crank the difficulty to Hard to force Showdown mode to play out in real-time.
Desperados 3 is a challenging game that will have your fingers hovering anxiously over that quick-save button, but Showdown Mode breaks up this intensity, sacrificing a bit of realism for a lot of style and tactical depth. It’s the game’s standout system, giving this old-school tactics game a welcome modern touch.