I was too young to play the original Cannon Fodder but I do have hazy memories of watching some one else play it on some sort of ancient steam-powered computer. As such I didn’t expect a whole lot from Cannon Fodder 3, a sequel done by a Russian team that presumably have nothing to do with the series’ original creators Sensible Software. After a dodgy tutorial mission I was thrust outwards on my mission to exterminate racial stereotypes across the globe. Imagine my surprise 3 hours later finding myself still playing and, in fact, having a lot of fun.
I would just like to clear up that I wasn’t having fun because I’m a white supremacist who enjoys murdering outrageous caricatures of other ethnicities. No, no, it’s because Cannon Fodder 3 is actually a competent and fun arcade game. Forget any pretense of this being some sort of tactical-ish squad based game. It’s arcade shootery, pure and simple. You don’t even really have a squad, the four soldiers control more like an amorphous single unit, a malleable blob of soldierdom that will follow the direction of the leading unit. Cannon Fodder 3 uses the WASD and mouse combination (well-known as the best control method of all time) as you tromp around dodging bullets and rockets while destroying the “bases” of “terrorists”.
I was initially dismayed by the fact this third irritation of the series is pretty wide of the mark in terms of the originals charming art style. The opening movie in particular is flat-out terrible, featuring unsettling bad character designs badly animating their way through a fascist boot camp of sorts. It doesn’t paint a good picture for the rest of the game. Luckily in-game looks ok, I would even hazard the statement that it’s a solid presentation, like a cartoony slightly zoomed in Command and Conquer. Cannon Fodder 3 makes the bizarre decision of capping the frame rate at 30 FPS, which in my book is a grave sin that can never be forgiven. I literally don’t understand why this happens. Also, the game’s menu screen is painful; use the directional keys to highlight an option then either click it or press enter, or CLICK arrows on-screen to highlight an option THEN click it. It’s not major, but bizarre enough to warrant a mention as the UI’s designer has seemingly forgotten how a mouse actually works.
I should probably address the “humor” in the game. I guess me saying it should actually be referred to as “blatant racism” sums up my thoughts on it. But fuck it, this is a video game and for some reason games are allowed to get away with stuff like this. Actually it could be argued that the developers are actually being cleverer than we think. Think about it, if you were cannon fodder sent off mindlessly to kill other human beings surely the only way your mind could justify doing such an act would be to mentally warp the enemy into a cartoonish bad guy?
Another piercing insight into the psychology of the soldier provided by the game is the fact there is absolutely no coherent story. Cannon fodder-like soldiers in real life-probably have no idea of the end-game that their superiors have in mind, they are just packed off across the globe and given extremely short-term objectives like “kill them” or “don’t die”. Occasionally a mad scientist type figure appears on the screen and insults you. He might be the bad guy, but I’m not entirely certain. He might just be a figment of my soldiers drug addled imagination or an experiment in mind control by the white supremacist army that you are a part of, creating an unreal enemy to ensure your incessant murder of any one who doesn’t look like you. So basically, you’re doing a bunch of random missions and shouldn’t expect War and Peace. An interesting symptom of the Russian development/translation is that missions that are clearly in the middle east (or a caricature there of) are refereed to as taking place in “USA”, while the err, Asian type mission are refereed to as taking place in “Asia” .
Up to this point I have basically complained about all my quibbles with the game. But when I’m in-game actually playing, all of that doesn’t matter. Because Cannon Fodder 3 is stupid retarded fun. You get 20 soldiers each map and they all die easily. You have to dodge bullets and be quick blowing up turrets with your grenades because they will kill you instantly. There are power ups and vehicles which add enough variety to the solid arcade core of the game. There’s a nice experience system that rewards you for playing well; as your soldiers kill more units their fire rate and range will increase but if you let them die they are gone for good. I suppose there is a little strategy involved if you take out the many explosive barrels and crates first and preserve your secondary weapons for when you need them but to be honest you will get through fine just winging it and being a lunatic at all times.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the core experience of this game, all that’s wanting is a bit of personality and a bit of extra charm to seduce you to gleefully take part in the genocide. I’m firing a 3/5 out of the Halfbeard’s cannon at this fodder.