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April 2004



- Will make you nostalgic for 1997



- 1997 was a good year, but this is a horrible game



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Review: Desperados - Wanted Dead or Alive (PC)

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Beyond the Law: The Third Wave

Score: 3.0 / 10


1997 was a good year.  I remember it clearly because it was the year I completed my doctorate in Philosophy (which is a fun way of saying, “I’m more intellectual than you’ll ever be!”) and got hit by a sled.  Beyond the Law: The Third Wave (BTL) made my wounded leg ache with the reminder of that ice-bound day in February when Basil Baloney (his real name!) broke my leg.  From top to bottom BTL screams “1997” or at least, “1998.”  Which is part of the reason it has taken me so long to produce a judgment on the title – that and it fell behind my desk and remained forgotten.


beyond the law third wave review          beyond law third wave pc review


Locked in an isometric view and running at 800x600, BTL lacks pizzazz.   To be fair, it is a “budget” title and pizzazz should always come second to gameplay anyway, but when there isn’t much gameplay either, the whole thing just becomes a mess.


The goal for each level (about 20 in all) is to defeat a mob organization as it attempts to take over the United States.  Now, lets call a spade, a spade.  These guys are terrorists but for some reason the mobster label is slapped on them to make them more palatable.   Real mobsters wouldn’t organize an armed assault on the US government – they’d buy politicians and eventually the Presidency.  Be that as it may, the mobsters are set to take over the US and it falls to your considerable prowess to stop them, etc.





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Before each painful level begins you’re tasked with hiring specialists (snipers, technicians, etc.) with your available funds, much like the (far superior) Jagged Alliance games.  The more the asking price, the more expert the specialist.  Of course, it doesn’t really matter what kind of specialists you hire or how many because chances are they’ll all be killed by BTL’s phenomenal – and I do mean, phenomenal – enemy AI accuracy.



These sadistic bastards can pull off headshots at will with piddly sidearms while my expert shooters have a hard time nailing the buggers from close range with a sub machine gun!  This superhuman ability makes for some extremely tough levels.  Even being able to see their cone of vision (just like in Desperados and Commandos) doesn’t seem to make a difference – if one of your specialists is even close to being seen you might as well restart the level or reload your game because you’re as good as dead.  There is strategy involved in completing each level but it’s so ham-fisted and frustrating (even for die hard strategy fans) that you’ll probably wonder why you ever installed the game.  This is to say nothing of the various and weird limitations that might have been acceptable seven years ago; you can’t loot enemies, getting your specialist to lie prone is forbidden, grenades don’t exist, and disposing of a body involves throwing a tarp over it!  Seriously, cover the body and the enemy AI will walk right over the tarp without ever considering there might be something underneath! (“Has anyone seen Tony?  Hey, where’d this cool tarp come from?”)  The enemy’s sense of hearing isn’t so hot either.


beyond law third wave review           beyond law third wave review


If I were looking for at least one more nit to pick, I’d point out the repetitive audio.  The less said about it, the better.  Except that it’s repetitive and repeats itself unnecessarily, ad infintum, and so on (again and again).


Bottom line on this one folks, if hadn’t guessed already, is: don’t bother with Beyond the Law: The Third Wave.


- D.D. Nunavut

(June 27, 2004)


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