Commandos Strike Force ReviewCain Dornan
Deciding to take a different route with their latest installment, Pyro Studios’ latest edition in the long-standing Commandos series, Commandos Strike Force, sees players presented with a very different game from what veteran players are used to, as it is presented in a first person shooter view, rather than the convential top-down RTS-like camera that has long stood with the series. Furthermore, the series has now made a jump onto the PlayStation 2 and Xbox platforms, as well as appearing on its home platform, the PC. While change often proves to be a positive thing in many cases, Strike Force proves otherwise, in an end product that will likely disappoint many.
Commandos Strike Force follows the experiences of three specialized soldiers during the harsh fights of World War II. At various points throughout the game, you’ll play as either a long-range combat specialist, commonly known as the Sniper, a sneaky and disguise totting commander known as Spy, and a close-quarter combat specialist, known as the Green Beret. Each three are the best-of-the-best in their field, making them a powerful weapon for the allied forces that enables them to effectively sabotage and destroy the plans of the German Nazi army. Some missions involve controlling a single character throughout, while others allow you to quickly and easily switch between multiple characters with the tap of a button, allowing you to make use of each character’s unique attributes to progress through the game’s missions, which has you performing various tasks as saving hostages, intel recon, sabotaging German vehicles and eliminating any threats to the allies that the German forces pose.
The game attempts to inject a certain level of stealth into many of the missions, requiring you to quietly sneak your way through many missions or, if controlling the Spy, retrieving uniforms from fallen Nazi soldiers to fool your way through the enemy’s defences. Upon retrieving a uniform, you are capable of bypassing soldiers who are of lesser rank than you, while an equal or higher ranking soldier will blow your cover. While the idea is an intriguing one to say the least, it doesn’t appear to be implemented effectively, and often proves to be little more than an annoying sloppy mess. Enemies will occasionally notice you regardless of their lower ranks, and a few instances of our uniform somehow disappearing completely led to great frustration as we were quickly gunned down by surrounding soldiers.
On a similar subject, the game’s AI isn’t quite up to the standards that one would expect. Despite the game encouraging you to use stealth to complete missions, the level of strictness on the amount of sound that you make is often far too slack. You can often run up behind an enemy – making as much noise as possible – and they wont notice your presence. Firing your weapon doesn’t always alert nearby enemies either, enabling you to simply pick-off several enemies before any realize what is actually occurring. At other times, enemies will notice you from a mile away. Bushes and other vegetation fail to hide you from the view of the enemies, and they’ll be quick to begin firing at you regardless of being completely concealed by bushes. The quality of the AI could be put down to the significantly easier game than previous incarnations, with the developers attempting to make the game easier by introducing largely unintelligent AI. Three different difficulty levels are on-hand, however, these fail to increase the quality of the AI significantly.
Strike Force offers a solid collection of WWII weaponry available at your disposal. While each of the three characters are equipped with their own specialized weapon at the start of each mission, you are able to pick-up subsequent weapons from the fallen bodies of allies and enemies. As a result, you can enter into more close-quarter combat with the Sniper if needed, which enables a further level of freedom.
When it comes to presentation, Commandos Strike Force is definitely the ugly duckling. After being treated to the recent horde of quality shooters to hit the market, Strike Force offers little more than severely aged and uninteresting textures that fail to impress. Character models are basic and uninspired; with environmental detail usually offering limited blurry visuals. Despite all attempts to implement some level of animation and physics, the reaction of enemy soldiers being gunned down by a rifle or machine gun is far from satisfying, as bodies unrealistically crumble to the ground. Cutscenes are particularly ugly, with movements of characters being stiff and facial animation, particularly the mouth, far from accurate. With the advancement of visuals in most first person shooters on the market today, Strike Force proves to be little more than a first-generation PlayStation 2 title in appearance.
The game’s sound is equally unimpressive, offering annoyingly poor voice acting that often seems to be over-acted at various points. Heated arguments amongst soldiers proves to be little more than a joke, as the Green Beret offers a voice that is horribly forced. The game’s musical soundtrack is thankfully more satisfying, offering a collaboration of music that suits the game’s mood and character.
It’s clear right from the start that Pyro Studios has taken the wrong route with their latest offering in the Commandos series. Long-time fans will likely be disappointed with the series’ latest offering, as will first person shooter fans who will find the game’s action and presentation to be severely outdated. And yet, there is still some character left in this grubby and unpolished title, a glint of hope that some gamers may be able to grasp that allows for a level of enjoyment to be gained from this title. Either way, we definitely recommend a rent before splashing down cash on this mixed-bag game.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.