Dogs Of War - 1989 - Elite


1989 ELITE

Reviewed by Jon Weinel.

Dogs of War was a relatively early shooter on the Atari ST, but stands its ground as one of the better games the system has to offer. The plot is pretty simple; you play a soldier of fortune, travelling the world and slaughtering thousands of hired goons for just enough money to buy yourself some fancy new guns.  Ethical concerns aside, the missions range from saving P.O.W.s to revenge kills of drug barons and the like. 

Gameplay-wise Dogs Of War belongs to that fantastic sub-genre of top-down walk-around shumps, comparable to Mercs (megadrive/genesis), or the wonderful Guevara (aka. Guerrila War - NES). The 12 missions vary in length and difficulty and each alternates between vertical scrolling sections and horizontal sections. The vertical scrolling sections are filled with terrain, baddies, vehicles and turrets while the horizontal sections are deadly minefields.


Choosing your guns is a big part of the fun in Dogs Of War, and there's plenty on offer. Before each mission you will have the opportunity to stock up. As you complete more missions you will earn more money which will enable you to buy better guns and more ammunition; hence allowing you to take on harder missions, which in turn will earn you even more cash.

Your main firepower consists basically of bullet firing guns - bullets as in small black dots - like the machine gun or pistol on the original Grand Theft Auto for example. There are no fancy beams or spread shots to be had here. Bullet firing weapons are distinguished technically by speed of the shot, range and rate of fire. A faster rate of fire will allow you to lay down a thicker multi-directional hail of bullets cutting down your foes more effectively. You can also choose between fully-automatic, semi-automatic or non-automatic. Some guns are switchable between these modes. This is useful because at times it may be necessary to conserve your ammunition, however short range non-automatics like the pistol aren't generally a good option to choose except as a cheap back up if you run out of ammo for your main gun (or if you just like owning as many guns as possible). You must also buy the appropriate ammunition for each weapon, and gauging how much you will need is key.

You can also buy grenades and rocket.  Grenades are essential for destroying the many turrets and mines you will encounter, without them you will die! Generally you will use hand-grenades, however the dual mode rifle/grenade launcher has a longer range and is definitely worth getting early on.  Rockets are necessary for dispatching the armoured cars, tanks, jeeps and trucks which are abundant on certain missions.  There are 2 rocket launchers available which are essentially the same - you buy the cheaper one.

Finally, when you have loads of cash from all your killing, you will be able to afford the minigun and flame thrower. Both kick severe amounts of ass and eat through shots faster than yo mama. The flame thrower's shot travels through and over any obstacles such as vehicles or sandbags, which makes it uniquely devastating. It also has the added bonus that you can watch your enemies turn to ash.


The graphics are good and have enough variety. All are done in a sharp realistic style; this is what Atari games do best in my opinion - there are no cartoonish characters or fluffy animals here - it's straight up hardcore ultraviolence. The mission terrains range from jungles to desert camps, urban levels and even castles, graveyards and allotments. Most of these look pretty good, particularly the urban areas which again have an almost GTA-ish look to them.


Sound is reasonably good. The music is fairly memorable and the effects work. The different screams of your foes dying may annoy anyone who isn't playing the game, but probably not you.


Dogs Of War is a fun game to play. Through the game you will carve down thousands of foolish goons who step into your wall of bullets. One hit kills and you start with only 4 lives (no credits) so it can be tough if you aren't concentrating, but lives are awarded fairly regularly by score. Although the game is a little repetitive in places, there is enough variation to keep it fun and challenging. Troops either fire bullets or throw grenades and most are easily dispatched, however there is always the odd one who can charge through and catch you out.

The side-scrolling minefields add some variation, with more delicate situations where your accuracy with the rockets and grenades will be tested. An abundance of tanks and turrents on certain missions also make things more challenging.  There are no end-level bosses as such, at the end of some levels you simply find the person you need to save (and no you cant kill them even with grenades...) while at others there may be a large array of turrets or an armoured car to get past. Dogs Of War isn't easy, but if you play it carefully it is completable. In a sense my main criticism of the game is that to a certain extent the difficulty is gauged by how quickly you run forward on the screen; if you take it slow it's alot easier.

This game is also 2-player, which is excellent fun. 2-player mode adds an element of competition as to who can kill and destroy the most (you can't kill each other). Points get you extra-lives and at the end of each level there is a bonus for whoever kills the most. You can use the cheat ("TIMBO F5" on the loading screen) if your friend has no skill but it's not as much fun and you should know better ;)


This is a great game to pick up for a quick blast of mindless ultraviolence, especially on two player mode. If you have an Atari-ST or emulator this is well worth tracking down. If you can't find the real disk (i lost or lent mine to someone and never got it back!) try Automation #220 ;).


You're gonna need guns...lots of guns.


Making trouble for drug dealers in Florida.



Slaying folks with a flame thrower one afternoon in Canada.


Trip-wires made from bullets for these poor fools.



Trucks are easily destroyed with an RPG.

Yeah, lots of guns! I love commando/mercs style shmups and this is (obviously) another in the same vein. This is one title I never picked up when I had an ST for a short time (swapping it for an Amiga not long after buying it) but it looks a dose of fun. Thanks Jon for bringing this one to us :) malc


shmups!   © 1997 - 2007  Malcolm Laurie