Commandos Strike Force - PS2 Review
|24/3/2006||Atari||Pyro Studios||1, 8 ||MA15+||Easy|
It's always a bit of a worry when a company decides to take a game series and swap things around a bit. Commandos: Strike Force, for instance, is the latest game in the Commandos series; a series known for its 3D isometric view in which players manage a team of highly-skilled commandos to help get through the Second World War. CSF (for short) continues this basic idea, but takes the action into a first person perspective.
|Sniping from above.|
Obviously, being a WW2 game, there isn't a huge amount of room for a creative story to be conjured up, and rather than be entirely plot-driven, CSF is more a collection of random missions that the team must do in order to help the various resistance parties gain an edge against the German forces. Missions range form sabotaging generators and tanks, to freeing captive resistance members. Through the story players will find themselves aiding both French and Russian troops with a combination of stealth, espionage and gung-ho tactics.
Players will find themselves playing as one of three characters at a time, though being able to use either one or two in a mission. Each of the spy, green beret and sniper have their own strengths and special skills, and obviously the levels are designed in such a way that the player will have to make use of these. Although there is a decent amount of playtime devoted to all three types of commandos, the game is definitely geared towards stealth, with all three having stealth attacks. Most of the levels are designed in such a way that a player can, if careful, play the entire mission undetected, though this is fairly difficult. When it comes down to the armed combat, the green beret is the best bet, being able to carry three ranged weapons instead of the two allowed for the other commandos. Ranged combat is fairly simple, with headshots being an instant kill. Unfortunately, a large part of the realism within combat is removed when the enemy cannot have one shot kills against the player. Even snipers have to get off a few good hits before the player will suffer any major health loss.
|Taking cover from enemies.|
As unusual as the stealth tactics seem in a WW2 shooter, they work quite well. The sniper has throwable knifes, as a silent short-range takedown, as well as being able to stab people for a close kill while the spy can disguise himself as an enemy trooper and walk up to lower ranking officers undetected and dispose of them with wire, used to strangle the enemy. The green beret on the other hand can only take on enemies with a knife at close range for stealth, a trade-off for his extra power in combat. While all the stealth elements are enjoyable, CSF suffers similar issues to many other stealth-based games; eventually you get a bit bored of the silent kills, or frustrated when you go through an entire mission stealthily and mess up. Luckily, the game allows players to save at any point through missions. Beyond the simple repetition of the game, the gameplay is fairly solid right til the end, with a few battles where stealth is completely blown away and it's all guns blazing.
|Using the green beret.|
Perhaps one of the letdowns with this game, and one reason for seasoned FPS players to stay away, is the graphics. They seem to still be back in the 3D isometric games, suffer dramatic frame rate slowdowns in big battles, and are not anywhere near on par with the majority of other FPS titles, which are known for pushing graphics higher than many other genres. The character models in the game are nothing special, and every enemy looks the same, with exception to different ranking enemies. While this is to be expected (it is, after all, an army), after a few hours of play, you get a bit sick of the grey and green outfits that every enemy has on, and short of different ranking officers, there are no different types of enemies. No special troops, just your every day soldiers. Levels themselves don't look too bad, and feel very much like they could have come straight from some of the older Commandos titles. It is, perhaps, interesting to note that, while the graphics in-game are definitely not setting any new benchmarks, the game definitely feels like a sequel of the 3D isometric games, and this may have been the author's intent all along. Nonetheless, if your looking for a shiny new version of Call Of Duty, this is not the one to go for.
|Close quarter combat.|
While graphics are not a high selling point of CSF, the sound does make up for it on some fronts. For starters, in the opening cut-scene of the game players will notice some very nicely done voice acting, albeit fairly plain dialogue (at least it doesn't sound stupid though!). It really leaves you wondering though; if so much effort has been put into the voice acting, why do the character models hardly even open there mouth, let alone move their lips appropriately, while talking. Outside of the voice acting, ambient sound is fairly sparse throughout the game. The enemy also seems to have only a handful of phrases (in german at least) they can say when discovering the player, and although groups of officers can be seen speaking to each other, no matter how close you are there is no audio. However, the surround sound is always a plus and definitely adds to the immersion of this shooter when in big battles.
|Using the throwing knives.|
Basically, Pyro have taken the beloved series and put more of what fans of the series would expect into a FPS for this game. A few problems aside, Commandos Strike Force is a nice title which will keep fans happy until the next release. Some sub-par graphics and a lack of ambient sound, short of some repetitive music, will leave FPS players wanting more, but its definitely a good attempt at bridging the gap between the two genres. It'll be interesting to see any future first-person releases from this series.
Review By: Michael Hutchesson
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|GRAPHICS||A weak point of the game, with some frame rate issues at moments that it matters the most. Fairly bland textures, and character models.||71%|
|SOUND||Voice acting is superb, but there should have been about twice as much in-game audio.||72%|
|GAMEPLAY||Very enjoyable, if not a bit repetitive. Far too short, between 7 and 10 hours of game time.||78%|
|VALUE||A very enjoyable title, lots of fun, and plenty of concept artwork to unlock. The extra mission objectives will bring you back a little. But again, too short.||76%|
|OVERALL||Definitely one for the Commandos fans more than anyone else, but a decent play all the same. Keep an eye out for future releases. ||76%|