The much better sequel to CyberDogs, C-DOGS is a top-down viewed freeware action gem for up to two players, who control elite soldiers about to right the wrongs of the world and cure the bad guys of the evil of their ways, generally by blasting them up. One-player or co operative missions are linked together in a campaign, with different graphics and plot. There's also a dogfighting mode, which is not what you would only play this game for, but not bad either.
Before each mission there's a short briefing note, explaining the mission's objectives and pretending there's a background story in the campaign.. well, of course there is, but that's just an excuse to blow everything up. As if there ever were a difference. :-) Actually, it works very well, the briefings are fun, taking the game where it could not go were it just some random mission after another. The floorplans of each mission are randomly generated, depending on the random seed you can set to generate them again for a "new" campaign. Although this seemingly results in an infinite number of missions, randomized missions themselves are quite repetitive, mostly built as corridors and rooms, of which some have their doors locked with a key of certain colour, and the keys.. well, yellow is in a regular room, green behind a yellow door, blue behind a green door etc. The mission objective is often found behind a coloured door, especially if they're inanimate objects to collect or blow up. Anyway, this repetitiveness is countered with clever mission objectives (ranging for retreiving stolen moneybags (I take there's also money in them) to blowing up evil Ogres' ammunition reserve and rescuing hostages), great bitmap graphics which are colourful and characteristic, and, most importantly, enjoyable, hectic action. It's simply fun to shoot, burn and blow the monsters/enemies up; you're overpowered by numbers but not by firepower, nor, hopefully by wit. Even by setting the AI to hardest it's quite a dummy. Never mind that-- you're not playing chess against them, but turning them into a pile of ash, or perhaps a blood puddle. Not that the game was about gore, graphics are more cartoon-like than that way, but action rather. Dashing in to close range to take 'em out with a shotgun-blast.. okay okay, it's violent, but not gory.
Among all the weapons, my favourite has to be the molotov cocktail. Although I too often burn myself in haste with it, it's waves liquid flame have a satisfyingly powerful effect against any enemy. And it's quite sweet graphically, also the explosions are actually the best I remember I've ever seen in an action game - no, there are no fancy glittering 3D effects or very big balls of flame but rather it's so well animated it seems quite REAL and believable, not just some sprites laid over another. Real of course inside the game's appearance, not real world in case you wondered.
As for arming player(s), C-DOGS has a clever approach - it does not hand them money to buy the weapons, nor it spreads them for instance around the battlefield waiting to be picked up. Instead the game simply lets them choose three weapons for use with unlimited ammo (though you lose points when you fire), and that's it they'll use through a mission. This has it's benefits: mainly it makes balancing the game a lot easier, and defines gameplay and tactics. Unfortunately, the weapons themselves are not actually very original. Besides grenades and molotov cocktails with the mentioned effects, the guns are rather of the pea-shooting side. Anyway, efficient use of each requires a different tactic, and there's a place for every one in the game.
Personally, I really liked the possibility to have the game use your favourite .MODs and .S3M as background music, for both menu and the actual game, in separate configuration files. It really adds to the atmosphere if you've got nice action-gaming tunes blasting from your speakers along the gunblasts and ear-shattering explosions (plus the agonized screaming of your pulverizing opponents). Recommended! And don't forget: the co-operative mode is twice the fun!Reviewed by: Eino