Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Commandos Strike Force (Xbox)

The Commandos series dates back to 1998, and it was always a whole lot easier to like than it was to describe. While the Commandos trilogy looked and played like real-time strategy games, they combined tactical action and puzzlelike situations from an isometric perspective. The result was some tense, open-ended, and highly challenging scenarios. Now Commandos is back in--wait for it--a World War II-themed first-person shooter. This latest entry in the series attempts to integrate some of the distinguishing features of the previous Commandos into a fast-paced WWII action game, but it just doesn't execute on its ideas as well as a lot of other similar games do.
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


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