It was never the unlikeliest of sequels – it could have been a PSP possibility, there was the chance of a DS incarnation and then, of course, the altogether plausible iOS version – but Cannon Fodder 3 came about in the unlikeliest of ways. Licensed from Codemasters, owner of the Sensible Software property, developed by Russian studio Burut CT and, eventually, released worldwide by Game Factor Interactive, it’s not had the most straightforward or auspicious routes to our PCs. And, in fact, some might wonder why it ever got beyond the borders of Mother Russia at all.
For you see, this is a Cannon Fodder-shaped shell. It’s a husk that certainly looks the part, if you squint and only observe it from certain angles. Those who made it have clearly played the originals: it’s a top-down, squad-based shooter where you control four fragile troops taking on near-insurmountable odds. Grenades are thrown, buildings are demolished, unfair deaths are had, vehicles are miscontrolled and it all comes together in a package that feels like it was made by people who knew what Cannon Fodder was.
But it doesn’t feel like it was made by a team who knows what a new Cannon Fodder should be. Unimpressive updated graphics and the addition of side missions aren’t exactly revolutionary additions to a 20-year-old formula, and technical hitches and general bad design hinders what can, sometimes, end up being decent fun.
It could be the enemies who rush in and stand so close to your troops that you genuinely can’t distinguish them from your own, meaning you might mistakenly think you are safe – all energy bars look the same, of course. It might be vehicles that have pathfinding skills worse than those of the jeeps in the original game. It might be the combinations of these elements; or the sudden appearance of troops who take out your entire squad; or the explosive hitting nothing straight in front of you and killing everyone; or the way a checkpoint doesn’t auto-save, requiring an extra click for no discernible reason; or the questionable taste of having some exploding troops ‘hit’ the screen and be wiped off with windscreen wipers.
Or it might just be that Cannon Fodder 3 isn’t very much fun to play. Its repetitive nature borders on the ridiculous, with objectives repeating over and again, and there is pretty much nothing about it that pushes you on to finish it. There are times when nostalgia wins out; when you realise this is an actual Cannon Fodder sequel, but that’s quickly squashed down and washed away by a glitchy, boring and hugely underwhelming experience. In fairness, it’s nowhere near as bad as might have been expected. But saying that about a game doesn’t mean it’s at all good.