Despite the hype, this expansion pack for Hidden & Dangerous 2 doesn't change much in terms of the gameplay nor does it fix all of the little problems. If you liked the original and you can live with the shortcomings, then Hidden & Dangerous 2: Sabre Squadron will likely serve you well - especially the online co-op modes.

One of the things that I like most about this game is the realism. This is not your typical next-gen console shooter. It's a smart and deliberate look at war. It's easy to get killed and the game makes getting killed a real pain in the ass. You won't find any magic potions or health power-ups. Your life is a very valuable commodity in this game, which is made all the more frustrating from the lack of help that you'll get from the AI.

Without a doubt the biggest complaint about the original game was the unintelligent artificial intelligence on both sides. The hype would have to believe that your team will now back you up in the toughest of situations and the enemy will actually try to take cover and flank you rather than stand out in the open waiting to get shot. While it's true that some of the AI is better programmed in this expansion pack, they do tend to fall apart after a while.

Things start out really good with your teammates shooting Germans with uncanny precision. Even the Germans duck and take cover. But it doesn't take long until the Germans are out in the open again, this time picking off your guys like they were targets in a shooting gallery. They seem unaware that they're under attack, allowing the Germans to lob grenades at them with little action or reaction - with the exception of getting blown apart.

Some of the events in the game are scripted. You'll run into the same problem at the same place every time as you trip the wire and set off an event such as a sniper at a window. Your best defense is stealth. It's easier to avoid detection altogether by getting close to the ground and moving very slowly. It can take a lot of time and it can be quite frustrating because you don't always know if you're doing it right. Sometimes you'll get away with it and other times you'll alert the enemy and find yourself overwhelmed.

You can change control of any character but then you'll have to re-program your orders. At least you can pause the game to do this since it's fairly time consuming - not to mention a pain in the ass. A new online co-op mode allows you to get rid of the AI for a (hopefully) more sentient and reactive team of human gamers. You can play through all the new maps and utilize vehicles like jeeps and tanks. If there's one reason to purchase this game it's for the online component.

The cutscenes are powerful and help to put you in the mood. The sense of realism conveyed throughout the game is inconsistent due to the AI programming but there's enough of it that is strongly embedded so that we never actually lose the fantasy. We can psychologically blame the shoddy AI for being amateurs. The various weapons sound great and require some precision for aiming. The animations are good with full facial expressions. Some of the environments suffer from blurry textures but there is a sense of dimension to them that makes them almost larger than life.

This expansion pack isn't all that impressive in terms of the single player campaigns but it does rock online. That should be your only reason for going to war.

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System: PC
Dev: Illusion Softworks
Pub: Global Star
Release: Oct 2004
Players: 1 - Multi - Online
Review by Dean