Wednesday, October 8, 2008
The strategy roots of Commandos Strike Force are well hidden beneath the guise of a generic WWII shooter.
The transition from strategy game to shooter has also served to limit the scope of Commandos Strike Force. In the previous games, you'd get to control a squad of specialized soldiers who could spread out to assault and sabotage huge Nazi compounds. In Strike Force, there are just three characters forming the squad (and they're nobody Commandos fans will recognize): a Green Beret, a sniper, and a spy. These guys combine some of the abilities of the other Commandos characters. For example, the sniper is also an expert with deadly throwing knives and happens to be a great swimmer, so he's like a cross between a sniper and a Marine. However, the game loses its predecessors' sense of you having to coordinate a complex invasion. Here you just tend to control one or two of these soldiers in a given mission, sneaking your way past Nazis or killing them in droves. The missions themselves still sometimes have an open-ended feel, such that you may have multiple objectives you can tackle in any order. But larger missions are divided up into multiple smaller zones, which diminishes the sense that you're deep behind enemy lines. The presentation isn't particularly compelling either, especially on the console versions, which look really bland. These missions feel like your average first-person shooter levels.
Commandos Strike Force isn't particularly successful at telling you a compelling story, either, though it seems to try. The three soldiers have their own distinct personalities, from the wisecracking Lieutenant Hawkins (the sniper) to the slightly aloof Colonel Brown (the spy). But their interactions during between-mission cutscenes often seem disjointed and awkward (not to mention surprisingly filled with profanity for a T-rated game), and the missions themselves aren't always clearly related, so you really aren't drawn in from any of these respects. At least the characters play fairly distinctly. The Green Beret is a pretty generic gunner, the sniper's long-range rifle and throwing knives make him quite different, and the spy is able to take uniforms from dead enemies and infiltrate their ranks--he just needs to watch out for the piercing gaze of high-ranking enemy officers.
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