Spanish developer Pyro Studios' World War II tactical strategy series undergoes a significant renovation in Commandos: Strike Force, as the overhead 2D perspective from previous entries is replaced with a first-person viewpoint in 3D environments. Players can freely switch between three individual characters as they engage in a unified series of 14 missions in Norway, France, and Russia. Characters include Colonel George Brown, a spy fluent in German and a master of disguise; Francis O'Brien, a Green Beret specializing in heavy weapons; and sniper William Hawkins, who can pick off targets from great distances and is an expert diver.
All three commandos will be involved in kidnapping attempts, assassinations, hostage rescues, creating diversions, sabotaging installations, and more. One of the game's distinguishing features is the freedom to complete objectives in any order and in multiple ways. Players can decide which characters to use in a given mission, what paths to take on the map, whether to use stealth or force, and so forth. Authentic weapons from the time period include a choice of pistols, rifles, machine guns, and explosives, but players are also free to use more clandestine means of killing, from strangling to slitting throats. The PC version also supports online battles for up to 15 players in multiple game modes and a choice of customization options.
Commandos Strike Force is a dumbed down version of the Commandos series. It's more accessible, more forgiving and for the right player it can be a whole lot of fun. The focus is on variety and as a first-person shooter the game delivers the good even if it feels a little generic at times.
Events take place during WWII where your Commando team is sent behind enemy lines to help gain advantages for the U.S and its allies through a series of missions that include the requisite rescue, escort, recon and just out-and-out indiscriminate killing. Your adventures will take you to places such as France, Norway and Russia but most of the time you won't even be paying attention to the environments except when it's snowing outside.
You will be able to play as different characters with distinct skills and characteristics. The three Commandos include a spy, Green Beret and a sniper. The difference may seem obvious just by the names but there are more skills and attributes that set them apart, some that don't even seem to make sense, but what the hell? It's a video game after all and we have to accept some flights of fancy to make things more interesting. The Commandos series is trying something new with this game and I'm giving the developers the benefit of the doubt as they opt for a little less realism that we may be accustomed to.
The sniper has amazing stamina for cold weather. The spy is trained in stealth but is far less resistant to freezing weather and will eventually die if exposed for too long. The Green Beret's specialty is handling heavy weapons. He can wield dual pistols and even rifles.
As the spy you can don enemy costumes and infiltrate the Nazi's headquarters. Soldiers and guards of higher ranks will somehow be able to see through your disguise and begin shooting at you immediately. Lower ranking soldiers will always be fooled by your disguise. Those of the same rank will also be able to see through your disguise but it takes them a little longer to react than the higher ranks. If you stand in front of any soldier or guard too long they will eventually sound the alarm regardless of what rank they are.
If you happen to draw your weapon your cover will be blown. Silent kills are best for not drawing attention to your presence, but there always seems to be some patrol in the vicinity. They are very sensitive to noise, but you can use this to your advantage by attracting or distracting their attention by simply throwing a coin. You can then move in for a silent kill.
When the enemy starts firing at you it's in your best interest to run and hide. If you manage to escape detection and find a good hiding place they will eventually give up the search. Just keep in mind that if you're not completely hidden they can spot you. Leave any part of your body poking out from behind a wall and you're likely to get it shot off.
You can attempt to take the enemy on one at a time but you have to get down low and hope they are confused by your sudden change in height. The AI isn't particularly intelligent as you've probably already guessed. This doesn't mean the game is a cakewalk, the enemy is more like a booby trap or a deterrent more than anything. It's completing your mission that is the ultimate challenge. There are times when even the allied AI will act retarded. In one mission you are escorting rescued prisoners to safety but these idiots do just about everything they can to get shot at. You'll run out of med kits before you can save them all. It's too bad you can't issue some simple orders to keep them in line.
The weapons have a very satisfying feel to them. They are not only accurate but extremely deadly. It's great to have instant feedback when an enemy takes a hit. In the sniper missions the blood splatters as the body is literally thrown backwards in very dramatic, if not entirely unrealistic, fashion. The sniper missions are few and far between but they are great. Weapons can be exchanged with the other team members so that you don't run out of ammo during a good run. However, there are some sniper missions in which you can only use your sniper rifle.
Some missions can get incredibly intense. You will find yourself flanked by enemy troops with tanks bearing down on you and mortar fire exploding in all direction. It takes everything you've got to plan out your method of attack and then carry it out. Of course this isn't a real-time strategy game so things change on the fly and you have to be prepared to adapt. No two missions are the same but they aren't so different from other games that they will feel like anything special. The balance of variety in the gameplay is designed to keep the player wondering what's next.
Visually, Strike Force is not a looker. Even the cutscenes display some stiff animation with emotionless faces. The music is good and the sound effects are very realistic. It's a pleasant experience to bask in the screams of the dying enemy. Overall, the production is somewhat dated. There is an online multi-player mode but it's just your standard frag fest and not really much of an incentive. You will extract the majority of your enjoyment from the single-player mode.
People who downloaded Commandos: Strike Force have also downloaded:
Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines, Commandos 2: Men of Courage, Commandos 3: Destination Berlin, Commandos: Beyond the Call of Duty, Age of Empires III, Command & Conquer: Renegade, Close Combat: First to Fight, Condemned: Criminal Origins
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