"Desperados: Wanted Dead or Alive" is the first strategy game ever to combine a movie-based and story-driven atmosphere of an adventure game with the intellectual challenge of a real time tactic game. In this western-style title, discover a game of strategy and tactics played out in exceptional real time.
User reviews:
Mixed (404 reviews) - 69% of the 404 user reviews for this game are positive.
Release Date: Jul 23, 2001

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“An incredibly fun and stylish game.”
8.1/10 – IGN

“An engaging storyline, high-quality cut-scenes, a cast of unique heroes and a whole stampede of missions make Desperados a shining silver star.”
83 % – GameSpy

“More than twenty missions guarantee nice and long fun.”
8.9/10 – ActionTrip

About This Game

"Desperados: Wanted Dead or Alive" is the first strategy game ever to combine a movie-based and story-driven atmosphere of an adventure game with the intellectual challenge of a real time tactic game.

In this western-style title, discover a game of strategy and tactics played out in exceptional real time. You're in charge of a team of 6 mercenaries and must find a way to complete your missions, be it infiltrating an enemy fortress, saving a team member or escaping an ambush... Combine the different skills of your 6 heroes to lead them to victory.

The Story

El Paso, a typical Wild West town in the southwestern United States near the Mexican border. It is the year 1881. For the last few months, the trains belonging to the famous railroad company, Twinnings & Co have been the target of a whole series of hold-ups and ambushes. The management of the company has decided enough is enough and they have to put an end to the raids. It has offered a reward of $15,000 for anyone who captures the leader of the gang responsible.

But no one in and around El Paso has the courage to take on the might of the bandidos, so the outlaws just keep on robbing train after train. Even the local Marshal is keeping well out of it.

It’s only when a stranger rides into town that things start to change. Bounty hunter John Cooper pays a visit to the local Twinnings & Co manager offering to end the railroad company’s problems once and for all. He gathers together a gang of his old partners and declares war on the bandidos. But during his pursuit, which will take him through half of the southwestern United States, Cooper soon discovers that on this mission nothing is quite what it seems...

Key Features

  • More than 20 enemies with different profiles, from the lazy and cowardly bandit, to the fearsome mercenary.
  • A team of 6 characters, each with their own very distinct characteristics, to manage in real time.
  • 25 different levels provide nail-biting intrigue, with cinematic transition scenes and landscapes that will take your breath away. Amazing artificial intelligence!
  • Each enemy is ranked on 10 different criteria, including intelligence, courage, marksmanship, resistance to alcohol, etc.
  • An array of different settings: day-time, night-time, storms, dusk, villages, ghost towns, fortresses, gold mines, saloons, prisons, boats 6 training levels to allow the player to really get into the story

System Requirements

    • OS: Windows XP/7
    • Processor: 1 GHz Processor
    • Memory: 256 MB RAM
    • Graphics: 3D graphics card compatible with DirectX 7.1
    • OS: Windows XP/7
    • Processor: 1.4 GHz recommended
    • Memory: 512 MB RAM
    • Graphics: 3D graphics card compatible with DirectX 9
Customer reviews
Customer Review system updated Sept. 2016! Learn more
Mixed (404 reviews)
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174 reviews match the filters above ( Mixed)
Recently Posted
10.5 hrs
Posted: September 25
Overall gread game from childhood times however, when 14 mission is loading, I am getting kicked out as there are some misterious error.. has anyone else same issue?
Helpful? Yes No Funny
5.8 hrs
Posted: September 23
Childhood memories coming back with the speed of a bullet...

''Did someone called for a doctor?''
Helpful? Yes No Funny
2.5 hrs
Posted: September 22
Every time the enemy starts to search for me the game runs super slow. This happens every time on two different computers.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
FaZe Zuma_ZA
6.2 hrs
Posted: September 15
Helpful? Yes No Funny
39.7 hrs
Posted: September 6
Fantastic game! Even better if you have played this before and you get that nostalgic feel. For me this game has a really high replay value and is and always will be one of my favourite games.

However: The steam version of this game is no better performance-wise than the retail version from 2001 (its probably identical) and WILL run poorly on this generation's computers for some unlucky people out there.

How to make this game playable:
Make sure you follow ALL the steps posted in the pinned thread in the forum called "Workaround Windows 7 / 8.1 / 10" this does not work for everyone but it works for most players and it works perfectly for me.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
27.5 hrs
Posted: August 21
This game is a rare true gem.
15 years long since the first time I knew this game and still keep playing it occasionally until these days. I can't honestly recommended this game due to performance issues, but i think it is worth a try.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
0.9 hrs
Posted: August 16
Great game from early 2000s

You will have hours and hours of fun. IF you get past the poor optimization and gamebreaking performance issues, I have googled and troubleshooted for awhile now and can't get it to work properly.


The game itself and the developers is NOT the problem. They have done an outstanding job and made one hell of a game. That being said: I do recommend the GAME!
I just dont recommend the Steam version of it before they manage an easy fix.

pm if you know a fix :)
Helpful? Yes No Funny
5.5 hrs
Posted: July 18
Just finished it again. Still a fantastic game, even after 15 years! 10/10

It works great with the latest DXWnd (v2.03.76) on my Win 10 x64 system.
You can play it even in widescreen format if you follow the instruction on WSGF. (1280x720 resolution is recommended for FullHD displays, because some levels will become very tiny and fill only a part of the screen if you play it at 1920x1080 resolution.)
Helpful? Yes No Funny
6.8 hrs
Posted: July 14
The game is my childhood game. perfect. but its not working on win 10. i managed to play it with some hacks, but it doesnt worth to buy it and research to play.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Most Helpful Reviews  In the past 30 days
3 of 3 people (100%) found this review helpful
1.1 hrs on record
Posted: September 9
Old school classic, never gets old. Childhood flashback!

+ Plenty of missions guarantee a lot of fun
+ Cutscenes
+ Sanchez (real badass)
+ Kate O'Hara

- Graphic troubles within WIN 7/8/10
- Missing remake (would be nice hehehe)

Verdict: 10/10
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Most Helpful Reviews  Overall
140 of 152 people (92%) found this review helpful
0.4 hrs on record
Posted: February 24, 2014
This game is epic but DON'T BUY IT if you have WIN 7/8 x64. The game uses directdraw which dissapeared when Direct X 8 came out. Unless you have an old PC running windows XP I don't reccomend you to buy it. Apart from the compatibility issue the game it's simply epic, very long story line and hard missions that will keep you busy for a long long time. Have fun.
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230 of 288 people (80%) found this review helpful
Not Recommended
3.6 hrs on record
Posted: November 20, 2013
This game is from my childhood, and I loved it back then, and I still do. However with latest hardware, and operating systems, it has rendered this epic game completely unplayable (laggy mouse, low resolution, and crash to desktop every 5 minutes). This should have been re-worked, and re-patched, before being allowed on to Steam.

As mentioned on even the positive reviews, Desperados does not work on Windows 7/8/10. At least, not very well. I have reported this to the developers, but my thread(s) were completely ignored, and we have never received any acknowledgement that these compatibility issues even exist, even though they clearly DO. My current issue is a complete freeze up of the game after 5 minutes, followed either by a crash to desktop, or a BSOD.

It's a BRILLIANT game, but you will likely be put off of it by the performance issues before you have a chance to appreciate it's brilliance. Save your money, and just pray that the developers fix the issues with W7 and W8.

Update 1st Dec 2013: There is a "directdraw" fix available in the forums which fixes mouse lag, however the crashing is still ongoing. It seems that patching has stopped for this game already.

Update 25th Feb 2014: There appears to be an unofficial work around for the crashing issues available in a stickied forum thread. This is not developer supplied, and edging on the side of caution, I would prefer NOT to download random ".dll" files off of the internet - especially those hosted on rapidshare. I am unlikely to ever try the fix for myself, and the "Negative" review stands, as long as the developers fail to patch these aweful compatibility problems.
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81 of 97 people (84%) found this review helpful
2 people found this review funny
25.2 hrs on record
Posted: November 29, 2013
This is not a game. This is THE game.
I've played at least 100 hours at this game when I was younger, and I'm happy to know it's on Steam now. This is on my personal top 3 of the best games I ever played. Good story, good gameplay with a mix of action and stealth, good atmosphere, good locations and the characters have a nice voice acting (In Italian).

Anyway, if you have Windows 7/8, I suggest to DON'T BUY this game, because it doesn't run pretty well. Most players say the game is unplayable for who have the newest OS, because there's a drop of FPS + laggy mouse and multiple crashes during the game, but there are some ways for fixing part of those problems if you read the threads in the community hub. So, think twice before buying it!
I use Windows XP and the game works fine except for some crashes (2 in 16 hours of gameplay, for me).

You should play it.
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39 of 39 people (100%) found this review helpful
24.2 hrs on record
Posted: October 21, 2014
WARNING! The game uses DirectDraw technology. That means that if you run anything newer then Windows XP you will encouter problems with this game. I have Windows 7 x64 and managed to bring the game to mostly playable level (the game slows for a second down everytime I change a character or choose a skill to use.

That said the game itself is quite excellent. The artstyle still looks just fine even though it is an old game. The 6 characters you will play as have variad skills, which you can use in creative way. There are no easy or scripted way through enemis and you will have to make your own way using tools given to you. The game is hard and you will have to use quicksave a lot on your first playthrough. Still, it is a great game in a long forgotten genre of games. It was fun back in 2001 and hold up really well to this day.
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109 of 162 people (67%) found this review helpful
4 people found this review funny
Not Recommended
0.4 hrs on record
Posted: September 26, 2015
Game does not run properly on Windows 7, 8, or 10
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30 of 32 people (94%) found this review helpful
5 people found this review funny
1.2 hrs on record
Posted: May 8, 2015
One of the first PC games I played. Found its demo version in a cereal box and since its a love story.

- Mindblowing STR/RPG/Action/Stealth concept
- Great 2D
- World design and western atmosphere greatly rendered
- 25 missions
- Challenging AI
- Pretty good voice acting

It surely surpasses many actual games, in its creativity, difficulty, and generosity.

12/10 on my top 10 games of all time
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54 of 73 people (74%) found this review helpful
2.1 hrs on record
Posted: November 23, 2013
One of the best Commandos style games I ever played. I made it through all 26 chapters so many times ... and I am sure that I wont ever turn back on this game. Great story, good graphics, nice maps and little details which will make you smile. Great game from great era of game makers.
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27 of 29 people (93%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
29.0 hrs on record
Posted: July 23, 2015
This game is masterpiece.
The humorous and deadly atmosphere keeps it together.
What I like about this game is that most levels can be finished by various tactics.. You can gun your way out, sneaky clear whole level or set a dangerous environment with traps. And this really suits this genre. Though the levels are really challenging, you do not need too much strategy to finish it. I will always recommend this game.
20 ish hour packed single player that you should play through at least once.
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27 of 30 people (90%) found this review helpful
32.2 hrs on record
Posted: November 6, 2015
Short version: 89%
Desperados is a squad-oriented stealth/action game following the footsteps of Commandos, but with a Western setting. It may be a copycat, but a copycat with great levels, good mechanics, and memorable characters, easily earning its rightful place among all real-time tactical game fans.

Long version:
Desperados: Wanted Dead or Alive is the proof that you can create a copycat that can be on par with the original. In our case, it is a clone of Commandos: a series of WWII real-time squad-based tactical/strategy games, where you control a group of highly trained specialist through a set of mostly stealth-oriented levels.

The core mechanics are the same: your task is to clear each level from enemy guards and bandits to reach your current mission mark. To do so, you take control of a colourful cast of Western stereotypes, all with their unique abilities. They are maybe a little too unique, as even mundane tasks as tying a knot or saddling a horse need their own specialists.
Another similarity is that diversion tactics are the bread and butter of gameplay. This is where Desperados outdid Commandos: you can pre-record a set of commands for all characters to execute a complex plan with the push of a button. Thanks to the devilish enemy placements, this feature is almost essential after a while.
The setting makes one big difference though: we cannot have a Western without some shoot-outs, so Desperados puts a smaller emphasis on sneaking to give way for some old-fashioned gunplay instead.

The story is built from spaghetti Western tropes: a mysterious bandit leader pulls a few high-profile robberies, which attracts the attention of a veteran bounty hunter, who then collects a few outlaw buddies to get to the bottom of the events. After this, the plot runs into a few dead ends on purpose, which may be a little tiresome, but eventually it reaches its typical adventure-oriented Western movie conclusion.
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