The game has the player control a variable four-man squad of British SAS commandos through six campaigns across Europe in World War II. The player can choose their campaign loadouts from a pool of men and equipment, and similar to other games in the genre such as Rainbow Six and Ghost Recon, soldiers who die during missions remain permanently dead. H&D is one of the pioneers of squad-based tactical gameplay, featuring a 3D tactical map accessible during missions and containing a robust command system, as well as varied missions with objectives ranging from sabotage and prisoner rescue to simply escaping from enemy territory.
An Expansion Pack, known as Fight for Freedom in Europe and Devil's Bridge in North America, was quickly released in the same year, adding new soldiers, weapons and missions. The base game and expansion were later released for free in 2003 as an updated Deluxe edition. The sequel, Hidden & Dangerous 2, was released later the same year.
This series provides examples of:
- Artificial Stupidity: Your soldiers are prone to silly pathfinding, wasting ammo on enemies they can't hit and outright ignoring some orders among other things. The enemies get their fair share too.
- Artistic License Geography: The German island province of Peenemünde looks strangely Alpine in this game.
- Artistic License History: The game portrays the SAS operating in some theatres of war they never partook in, or did so at a different time.
- Camera Perspective Switch: The player can switch between a first-person and two different third-person perspectives.
- The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: The enemies can occasionally shoot through bushes and fences your bullets can't penetrate.
- The Computer Is a Lying Bastard: Some of the mission briefings offer misleading or incorrect information, although this could be chalked up to spotty military intelligence.
- Emergency Weapon: The knife can be equipped for this purpose for a negligible cost in weight.
- Expansion Pack
- Final Death: Squad members who die during a mission stay dead for the rest of the game.
- Game-Breaking Bug: Quite a few, even after several patches. Some were fixed in the Deluxe edition.
- Gameplay and Story Segregation: You can freely change your squad composition and loadout between consecutive missions when they couldn't realistically have returned to base in between.
- Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence: Your soldiers can climb over a few select waist-heigh obstacles but not most of them.
- No Swastikas: The Deluxe edition censored several textures, including anything with a swastika. It's easy to decensor the game with a mod, however.
- Nintendo Hard: Be prepared to reload and retry a lot. You only get one save slot per mission, too.
- On-Site Procurement: You can only bring so much starting equipment into a campaign, and you'll soon run out if you don't loot enemy corpses on missions.
- Porting Disaster: The PSX port. Not only is it even buggier than the original, several key features of the game were cut entirely.
- Rare Guns: The M1941 Johnson Rifle available as the only non-scoped rifle for your SAS. It was historically only used by some U.S. Marines in the Pacific.
- Selective Historical Armoury: The selection of available guns is a bit bizarre, and the Germans only use scoped rifles in the base game resulting in ridiculous numbers of enemy snipers. Somewhat alleviated in the expansion.
- Stealth-Based Mission: One mission requires sneaking to a boat through a German-occupied town in civilian clothing. A single shot fired will cause all the Germans guarding the boat to make a race for who can abscond with it the fastest.
- Super Drowning Skills: These highly trained commandos die if they get wet up to their waists or just ankles, depending on the level.
- Squad Controls: Both simple real-time verbal commands and more in-depth commands on the map screen. Don't count on the AI obeying them too reliably, though.
- Tactical Shooter: One of the first.
- Trial-and-Error Gameplay: Beyond the Nintendo Hard combat, the game often throws unexpected curveballs at you such as suddenly spawning hordes of enemies out of a building, potentially resulting in your entire team getting wiped out in seconds. The mission may also differ so much from the initial briefing that you may have to go back and change your mission loadout.
- Unwinnable by Mistake: It's possible to not have mission-critical equipment at hand when it's needed to progress either because you neglected to bring some, because you wasted it on accident or because the soldier carrying it fell through the world thanks to a bug.
- Updated Re-release: Hidden & Dangerous: Deluxe
- You ALL Look Familiar: The original version had unique models for each SAS soldier, but the Deluxe edition got rid of this variety, apparently in an effort to improve performance.