Dogs of War was a relatively early
shooter on the Atari ST, but stands its ground as one of the better
games the system has to offer. The plot is pretty simple; you play
a soldier of fortune, travelling the world and slaughtering thousands
of hired goons for just enough money to buy yourself some fancy
new guns. Ethical concerns aside, the missions range from
saving P.O.W.s to revenge kills of drug barons and the like.
Gameplay-wise Dogs Of War belongs
to that fantastic sub-genre of top-down walk-around shumps, comparable
to Mercs (megadrive/genesis), or the wonderful Guevara
(aka. Guerrila War - NES). The 12 missions vary in length
and difficulty and each alternates between vertical scrolling sections
and horizontal sections. The vertical scrolling sections are filled
with terrain, baddies, vehicles and turrets while the horizontal
sections are deadly minefields.
GUNS...LOTS OF GUNS...
Choosing your guns is a big part
of the fun in Dogs Of War, and there's plenty on offer. Before each
mission you will have the opportunity to stock up. As you complete
more missions you will earn more money which will enable you to
buy better guns and more ammunition; hence allowing you to take
on harder missions, which in turn will earn you even more cash.
Your main firepower consists basically
of bullet firing guns - bullets as in small black dots -
like the machine gun or pistol on the original Grand Theft Auto
for example. There are no fancy beams or spread shots to be
had here. Bullet firing weapons are distinguished technically by
speed of the shot, range and rate of fire. A faster rate of fire
will allow you to lay down a thicker multi-directional hail of bullets
cutting down your foes more effectively. You can also choose between
fully-automatic, semi-automatic or non-automatic. Some guns are
switchable between these modes. This is useful because at times
it may be necessary to conserve your ammunition, however short range
non-automatics like the pistol aren't generally a good option to
choose except as a cheap back up if you run out of ammo for your
main gun (or if you just like owning as many guns as possible).
You must also buy the appropriate ammunition for each weapon, and
gauging how much you will need is key.
You can also buy grenades and rocket.
Grenades are essential for destroying the many turrets and mines
you will encounter, without them you will die! Generally you will
use hand-grenades, however the dual mode rifle/grenade launcher
has a longer range and is definitely worth getting early on.
Rockets are necessary for dispatching the armoured cars, tanks,
jeeps and trucks which are abundant on certain missions. There
are 2 rocket launchers available which are essentially the same
- you buy the cheaper one.
Finally, when you have loads of cash
from all your killing, you will be able to afford the minigun and
flame thrower. Both kick severe amounts of ass and eat through shots
faster than yo mama. The flame thrower's shot travels through and
over any obstacles such as vehicles or sandbags, which makes it
uniquely devastating. It also has the added bonus that you can watch
your enemies turn to ash.
The graphics are good and have enough
variety. All are done in a sharp realistic style; this is what Atari
games do best in my opinion - there are no cartoonish characters
or fluffy animals here - it's straight up hardcore ultraviolence.
The mission terrains range from jungles to desert camps, urban levels
and even castles, graveyards and allotments. Most of these look
pretty good, particularly the urban areas which again have an almost
GTA-ish look to them.
Sound is reasonably good. The music
is fairly memorable and the effects work. The different screams
of your foes dying may annoy anyone who isn't playing the game,
but probably not you.
Dogs Of War is a fun game to play.
Through the game you will carve down thousands of foolish goons
who step into your wall of bullets. One hit kills and you start
with only 4 lives (no credits) so it can be tough if you aren't
concentrating, but lives are awarded fairly regularly by score.
Although the game is a little repetitive in places, there is enough
variation to keep it fun and challenging. Troops either fire bullets
or throw grenades and most are easily dispatched, however there
is always the odd one who can charge through and catch you out.
The side-scrolling minefields add
some variation, with more delicate situations where your accuracy
with the rockets and grenades will be tested. An abundance of tanks
and turrents on certain missions also make things more challenging.
There are no end-level bosses as such, at the end of some levels
you simply find the person you need to save (and no you cant
kill them even with grenades...) while at others there may be
a large array of turrets or an armoured car to get past. Dogs Of
War isn't easy, but if you play it carefully it is completable.
In a sense my main criticism of the game is that to a certain extent
the difficulty is gauged by how quickly you run forward on the screen;
if you take it slow it's alot easier.
This game is also 2-player, which
is excellent fun. 2-player mode adds an element of competition as
to who can kill and destroy the most (you can't kill each other).
Points get you extra-lives and at the end of each level there is
a bonus for whoever kills the most. You can use the cheat ("TIMBO
F5" on the loading screen) if your friend has no skill
but it's not as much fun and you should know better ;)
This is a great game to pick up for
a quick blast of mindless ultraviolence, especially on two player
mode. If you have an Atari-ST or emulator this is well worth tracking
down. If you can't find the real disk (i lost or lent mine to someone
and never got it back!) try Automation #220 ;).