Review

Commandos Strike Force Review (PC)

The WWII first person shooter game has very nearly become a genre of its own and, in a way, very nearly a joke. Any game that wants a piece of the market space here, or any kind of respect has to set itself as a forerunner quickly and decisively. Commandos Strike Force, the latest of the series from publisher Eidos Interactive and developer Pyro Studios, has a few nice moments, but in general does nothing to set itself apart from all of the other WWII shooters. All in all a rather mediocre experience for a fairly typical price tag, which makes for much less value than the average gamer is looking for.

You'll see this view a lot.  Fuzzy enemy on the wrong side of a sniper rifle This won't hurt...much

The original games in the Commandos series have always focused on precision, tactics and puzzle complex scenarios. This has made for a high challenge rating and enjoyment factor. The first person shooter format is much more forgiving than its counter parts, but also much more limited in scope and execution.

The characters of Commandos Strike Force aren't familiar faces from any of the earlier games, and do very little to set themselves apart as characters with particular history or interest, though they tap into stereotypical personality types. More interesting are their job, which defines them more than anything else. The squad consists of three: sniper, spy and Green Beret. These three types embody all of the other types that were possible to play in the earlier games of the series, having picked up some of the more popular skills and put them together in one character. For example the sniper has taken in several of the abilities of the old Marine class including swimming abilities and working with throwing knives.

In theory there's a story buried somewhere in the series of missions you are put through, but it's difficult to find and more difficult to follow.  There is no sense of real invasion or innovation in the missions and, at the end of the day, it just seems like your average first person shooter with some few twists and turns.

The gameplay in Commandos Strike Force isn't anything particularly new for the most part. Stealth play is simply a matter of making sure the enemy is looking the other way and you're in. The lower your profile the harder you are to see and even when you're in direct line of vision, you can usually get away with it. The AI is bright enough that the enemy gets upset when bodies are found, but they're fairly quick to forget the alarm within a short period after it being sounded. Be patient enough to wait them out and you're right back to where you started as far as being located. The other pro you get over your enemy fighters is the presence of your radar, which gives you a reading of everyone in the area and, usually, what direction their attention is. Using this feature makes it easy to fall into the pattern of all out rush and slaughter rather than the more tactical precision that has been necessary in other Commandos games. The only missions in which this isn't the case are those where the objective requires that you are not detected at all in order to succeed.

We're hiding!!! Smoke, or just bad lighting?  You be the judge

Each of the three character types is useful in various situation, though you'll find you can actually play most of the game with the spy and have it be a very efficient run. His flexibility and specialties cover nearly everything that's important, as well as giving you the ability to take uniforms from the enemy and take their place. This situation is a problem in my mind, moving the play from a squad situation down to a real first person in first person shooter.

Graphically the game is okay, but fairly uninspired. The engine just doesn't seem to be able to handle everything they're trying to do with the game and the graphics never really shine. There is a distinct lack of detail, particularly in the characters both in game play and the cut scenes. Compared to other games in the same genre Commandos is bulky and the physics of both character movement and vehicular movement still feel trapped in the nineties.

Ironically the sound may be one of the best features with some great voice acting going on. The musical score is pleasant, and my only complaint would be the timing of the score against the action. Often it swells when it doesn't have a reason, or falls off just when you most want the rush of a good beat.

There is a multiplayer mode for Commandos Strike Force, allowing upto sixteen players at once. This turned out to be a laggy and rather annoying encounter and finding someone to play with is a pain in the posterior. Those who have the game are apparently not playing it in public.

That's gonna leave a mark! Hard to tell which ones are guarding and which ones are captive, isn't it?

At the end of the day this was a game that I wanted to like after the rest of the series, but it just didn't deliver when I really wanted it to. There was one mission that brought out the intensity that I expected, but it was over too soon and right back to the problems that preceded it. I can't say that it's my least favorite game ever, but if I'm going to play a first person WWII shooter Commandos Strike Force would not be the first on my list.

Favorite Gaming moment:
Watching the guards panic that one of them was dead and then the body vanishing right along with the concern.

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