2: Men of Courage.
Back in 1998 a little known Spanish developer released
a 2D real time strategy game set in WW2 following
the exploits of a small group of Commandos. It was
never seen as a game destined for greatness but
it and the stand alone sequel have since gone on
to sell over one million copies world wide. Three
years later Pyro studios have built on the original
idea, tweaked and tuned the gameplay and unleashed
the all new Commandos 2. It's now 3D, it's still
a blend of action, strategy and adventure and it
is also still damned hard.
you are expecting a great step up in graphics from
the original games then you will probably be slightly
disappointed, but this is a game not just about
eye candy and more about gameplay. Commandos 2 has
plenty of that packed onto the games 3 discs which,
install a mighty 2.0 Gb of files onto your hard
drive. Your highly trained team now have an almost
limitless range of special abilities, weapons and
equipment at their disposal, and with maps populated
with hordes of sharp-eyed, trigger happy enemies
you will need to master them all to succeed.
advertising boasts a new 3D engine (not strictly
true) and some of the most realistic environments
ever created, whilst the latter may be a slight
exaggeration the graphics are excellent although
not quite as sharp as they could have been. At the
games maximum resolution of 1024x768 it looks very
nice, zoom in slightly to get a better view and
all that crispness turns into pixel hell. Forget
about tweaking those options, there aren't any to
speak of, just select your desired resolution then
use the high/med/low detail slider.
The amazingly detailed backgrounds, buildings and
characters do look fully 3D, for the soldiers this
enables very smooth animation which is most apparent
during actions such as scaling walls, hanging on
wires or carrying a body. (The main benefit of sticking
to the 2D engine is it keeps the system spec very
low). The map can be rotated easily in ninety-degree
stages giving a clear all round view of each area.
The music and sounds are suitably dramatic (if a
little annoying at times), all the various nationalities
have distinctive accents and weapons sound ok.
game starts with tutorial levels, which must be
passed before you begin active service, these introduce
you to a few of the games features. The map loads
and then you think, what the hell do I do now? In
fact calling them tutorials is the wrong word, there
is no helping hand, no guide to the key combinations,
trial and errors is a more accurate description
of these intro missions. So I did something I very
rarely do with a new game, read the manual! And
next print off a list of the hotkeys from the readme,
believe me you will need them.
After a lot of fumbling around and Germans yelling
"Alarm!" while using me for target practice it slowly
starts to make sense. Using the left mouse button
and "shift" key combination to pass the cursor over
objects you begin to see how to pass seemingly impossible
barriers. The more you explore the surroundings
the more you appreciate just how much has gone into
creating the game.
After yet another restart you quietly knock out
a smoking guard with a punch, select another team-mate
and he ties up and gags the guard before he wakes,
picks up the body and drops it out of sight. After
searching the body for useful equipment you shin
across the telegraph poles over a roadblock and
steal some wire cutters from under another guard's
nose, get back and hand them to the sapper who can
now cut the fence and clear the mines blocking your
way. Knock out a few guards, use a stolen grenade
to take out the rest.
Easy when you know how, the next mission loads with
a map swarming with enemies involved in a huge battle
with trapped US marines. Selecting the Green Beret
character in your team you start picking off the
unwary guards with the knife, watching for gaps
in the enemy routines to avoid detection. You slowly
clear the area using knives, pistols and hilarious
Molotov cocktails then link up with your allied
pals for a final battle, with a small invasion force
and a very large tank. That's it, training finished,
ready for the game proper. Well not quite.
Missions are based on historical events, in locations
all over the world including France, Burma and the
Arctic. Each mission must be completed to unlock
the next. Wisely one section of the manual is devoted
to "We know this really didn't happen, but we thought
it was fun", this should be read by all history
fanatics who know there were more than three submarine
hangars in La Rochelle. Missions begin and end with
fairly good FMV clips, although some look a little
Some of the maps are inspired by classic films such
as The Guns of Navarone, Bridge on the River Kwai
etc. Objectives include rescuing Allied soldiers,
stealing Enigma coding machines, sabotage and demolition.
These huge maps are also populated with all manner
of wildlife, (depending on location of course) including
Elephants, Walruses, Penguins, Piranhas, Sharks
and birds of all shapes and sizes, all with good
shadows and nicely animated. Each mission begins
and ends with fairly good FMV clips, although some
look a little grainy.
Your nine-man/woman/dog team is made up of Green
Beret's, Sappers, thieves, drivers, spies, snipers,
seductress and a diver for those sub-aqua tasks.
If you have several commandos in your team, a very
neat multi camera mode allows you to keep an eye
on what they are all doing. Most of the team are
familiar names carried over from the earlier games,
there are also three new faces.
This time round each Commando has a much wider range
of skills, a good example is you do not have to
rely on one driver as in the first games. All of
them move at varying speeds and can only use certain
equipment, it makes planning missions all the more
complicated but adds a great deal to the gameplay.
During some missions you will link up with and have
limited control over other allied soldiers.
What you quickly realise is that team work is essential,
only certain characters can disable mines, sneak
undetected into a barracks, use sniper rifles or
tie up and gag unconscious enemies. Also very apparent
is the emphasis on stealth, the first mission set
in a German submarine base must be passed without
weapons, in fact throughout the whole game your
final score is improved based on how many enemies
you did not kill. As your career continues you are
awarded a rank depending on performance, the ultimate
aim is to reach the dizzy heights of Field Marshall.
Also displayed are scores for time taken, areas
The characters this time round still retain the
slightly annoying and very repetitive voices each
time you instruct him/her to go here or do that.
They do look and move much more realistically, the
thief character has a very amusing theatrical sneaky
walk when close to enemies. For some reason enemy
guards seem trapped in an almost slow motion mode,
moving a little too slowly to be realistic but this
doesn't affect their reactions should they see you.
This almost inevitably leads to the maps entire
quota of Germans rushing over and filling you full
of lead or in the case of civilian workers just
giving you a good kicking.
AI is pretty basic (the field of view cones are
still present), they basically run at you in such
large numbers detection will almost always mean
certain death. If alerted they will search for you
for some time before returning to their normal routine.
Team-mates are best left hiding to keep them out
of harms way when switching between them, or use
the "attack mode" which tells them to engage any
enemy crossing their line of fire (Great for ambushes).
Weapons, Vehicles & Equipment
Anyone familiar with the first two games will find
the game screen almost identical, all the relevant
information for your selected soldier is displayed
to one side with icons for some of the actions.
Learning the hotkeys is vital to carry out most
tasks quickly, the list is enormous and is a little
bewildering at first, after a few missions however
you soon pick up the most important quickly. A notebook
can be displayed with mission objectives, clues
and in-game help for the weapons/gadgets.
Most buildings on the maps can be explored, either
by the front/back door or jumping through some windows,
it is also possible to look through windows to check
the coast is clear. Objects in rooms can searched
for weapons/equipment, as can bodies of dead or
unconscious guards. As you enter a room the game
view switches to a 3D, 360 degree rotating plan
of the building, very useful as most are like the
outside, swarming with guards. Making your way to
an objective on the other side of a busy complex
is all about timing and ingenuity.
The games long list of weapons and equipment reflects
the games stealthy approach, although there are
rocket launchers, flame-throwers, sniper rifles,
grenades and machine guns, why make a noise when
you can steal some sleeping pills and drop them
into bottles of wine for a room full of guards to
drink. Pills can also be mixed with food and left
for guard dogs to pick up.
Some very nifty new gear includes the cable trap,
(a wire which can be stretched across gaps), blowtorch,
grappling hook, rope ladder and even sheets that
can be knotted together to make a provisional ladder,
quite handy for making an escape in the Colditz
mission. Equipment can be passed to other team-mates
via the inventory, this is essential as sometimes
only the more stealthy characters can retrieve certain
The vehicles are detailed and can be used if not
occupied by an enemy, realistic physics means trucks
and cars will roll when cornering etc. All are based
on real WW2 models, including Panzer 111's, Kubelwagons,
Willy's Jeep, Mercedes trucks and many more. Aircraft
look particularly good, as do some of the more exotic
additions such as Mini-subs, V1 Rockets, ME-262
fighter-bomber and even a balloon, which allows
you fly over enemy positions undetected.
The multiplayer option allows you to complete all
the single player missions in co-op mode, through
either TCP/IP or LAN connections, there were early
plans for a Deathmatch option but this was dropped.
One player can control several characters so a small
number of participants can use all available resources.
At the time of writing I have yet to try this out
so cannot comment on set-up or how well the game
who enjoyed the first Commandos games will find
this game a real treat, it improves on the originals
in so many ways while retaining the basic gameplay
elements that made them so successful. Basically
it is hard to fault, there are few bugs, is very
challenging, sometimes frustrating and will occasionally
have you tearing your hair out.
I had any criticisms it would be the two tutorials
are terrible, lack of any graphics options and the
enemy AI is a little too eager to charge blindly
towards the enemy. The stability is a problem with
a tendency to crash to the desktop at certain points,
this seems to be linked to using the quickload option.
Apart from that it is great fun and very rewarding,
but I would still suggest that if you really didn't
enjoy the other games in the series then steer well
well at the maximum resolution of 1024x768 with
detail set on high. Apart from the odd crash-to-desk-top
(when using quickload) no major problems found.
than Sudden Strike, sneakier than Metal Gear,
more gadgets than a Bond movie and strangely
addictive, this is the game every Commandos
fan has been waiting for. Not really an RTS,
more a combination of strategy, action and adventure,
good value with at least 40+ hours to complete
plus the whole campaign in co-op multiplay.
Described as a strategy gamers dreams come true,
that's a fair description as few games allow
you to explore the environments in such a detailed
and imaginative way.