I was fortunate enough to preview a title called Dog Duty back in May 2020. It stuck in my mind for being a fun, and fast-paced real-time strategy game that was as crazy as it was challenging. The publishers have finally fulfilled their promise of porting this title to console, so here I am again with a full review of the Steam version (I couldn’t get hold of an Xbox code.) If you don’t fancy trawling through the reviews to find my first impressions, then don’t worry, just hit this link and fill your boots.Dog Duty Preview
Developed by Zanardi and Liza and published by SOEDESCO this real-time strategy game follows a classic clichéd story. You control a group of mercenaries whose aim is to take down the evil Octopus Army. Think of the TV program The A team, but with a lot more killing, and you are close to what the developers were thinking. The action takes place in 3 distinct regions, each with their own issues and obstacles to overcome. You must mix and match your team of characters to create the most powerful force and slowly take down the tyrannous bosses that control this army.
Unlike most real-time strategy games, this one chucks you straight in the deep end. Your tutorial mission to escape the prison and break out your teammates must be passed to proceed. Here you will learn the basic mechanics that will help you understand the main game concepts. Not every element of the title is shown to you, and a fair bit of trial and error is required to fully understand the finer points of this game.
Dog Duty isn’t just about crashing into enemy bases and annihilating everything you see. You ain’t no Rambo, and a little more thought is required to succeed. You will be asked to; dismantle key locations, pilfer enemy supplies, loot hardware, and rescue teammates. As you pass each mission, you undermine the foundations of each commander in the Octopus Army, and slowly but surely you get a foothold in each of the regions. You may think, “But what about your team, do they get upgrades?” They certainly do! Once you succeed at any mission you undertake, you are rewarded with cold, hard cash. This can be taken to a store and spent on armour, weapons, and vehicle upgrades.
This upgrade system is key to being successful and completing this game, as is the planning of which team member to use. If you cannot buy more powerful weapons, or increase the strength and firepower of your vehicles, you will simply be blown to pieces. I tried and failed many a time when I attempted to bite off more than I could chew, and went into a battle under-prepared. It was foolish and left me feeling frustrated. I had no one else to blame except myself, and the game makes it obvious that you need to plan ahead in order to win any of the battles you face. Like the person who tries to juggle 15 items at once, you soon learn to prioritise what is important to you, and some harsh choices are made en route to being victorious. I had a couple of favourite characters, and they had to be sidelined several times to ensure that I could proceed.
I really enjoyed the mix and match approach of your team. This kept the action fresh and made you look at each mission from a new perspective. Adding in the use of vehicles and battling on these was also a stroke of genius. You were free to choose how you wished to approach these fights. You could simply drive around picking off vehicles, one at a time, or you could enter a real-time battle. Your troops would get in the mix, and use the vehicle weaponry, and their own to overcome the attackers. It was great, it reminded me of playing soldiers as a young lad, there were vehicles burning and destruction everywhere I looked.
The game plays out with 3D imagery from a birds-eye perspective. This choice from the developers allows you to see enemies approaching, and you can plan how you which to take on any situation. Pixel art has been used for all the fine details. This gives the title a retro feel, and reminded me of playing games from early generation consoles. Think of Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines and you’ll be close to how this plays out. With so much going on, and many explosions, I was worried that the frame rate may drop to an unplayable level. This never occurred. All the action ran smoothly, and I only encountered a few minor issues.
Synthesised high-tempo music keeps the adrenaline pumping, very much like the clichéd storyline, the audio felt like it belonged on an 80s TV show. I loved the music, but despised the voice-over work from each of the characters. A verbal acknowledgement accompanied every task, it was tedious and unnecessary, and what’s worse, there is no way to stop it. I would have accepted it occurring sporadically, but every time was just a step too far.
Having been designed with console porting in mind, the developers allowed both mouse and keyboard and controller to be used. Both were excellent, and the mapping was easy to master on each. I spent most of my time using my controller, and can assure anyone who fancies trying this on their console that you will have an excellent gaming experience with no issues.
Between playing this for the preview, and revisiting it for this review, I lost around 15 hours of my life. This ensured that I had the best band of mercenaries available. I completed the main story, but still have a few tasks left to take on, so I’d say around 15 to 20 hours need to be put aside to complete it. You will face 22 achievements that span a wide range of activities, so completionists will be required to finish the full game to hit that 100% goal.
Dog Duty is a fun, fast-paced, and tricky title that will start off relatively easy, but has a challenging learning and difficulty curve. The latter missions make you think outside of the box and kept me on my toes. Aimed at gamers of all experience levels, I believe that even the most hardcore strategy fans will enjoy their time fighting the Octopus Army. Do I recommend that you try this? I played it twice, so, absolutely! If you enjoy destruction, and being the head of a badass mercenary posse, then this is your game. Build your team and upgrade your weapons. The Octopus Army needs to be taken down, and you are the team to do it.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Dog Duty Review
Gameplay - 7/10
Graphics - 6/10
Sound - 6/10
Replay Value - 7/10
User Review( votes)
A real-time strategy title where you control a bunch of mercenaries. Their only mission is to take down the evil Octopus Army.
- Nice pixel art graphics.
- The high-tempo music worked perfectly.
- Simple to understand control system.
- A good variety of missions.
- The voice-over work is annoying, and not needed.