Commandos: Strike Force strikes out

by Kenny Lindsay

Published by Eidos Interactive and developed by Pyro Studios, Commandos: Strike Force leaves a pretty big wound in players who are expecting a halfway decent World War II shooter game. For a series of games based on strategy, Eidos takes a shot in the dark at making this a shooter-style game and will probably lose what was a decent cult following.

So it’s World War II and the Nazis have taken over Europe. You are in command of an elite force of three specially trained soldiers sent deep behind enemy lines to sabotage, assassinate, assault and pretty much cause a big ruckus for those pesky Nazis. On certain missions the player can switch between the three characters ‘— a spy, sniper and a Green Beret ‘— in order to complete the mission objectives. Don’t be fooled by such an in-depth and uncommon storyline. The general gameplay at times can be abhorrently painful and, for God’s sake, when are they going to come up with something we haven’t played before? The game for some reason is also rated Teen for the unorthodox use of another word for poo during cut scenes which, I might add, are just plain bad.

When I first loaded the game I thought someone was playing a not-so-funny joke on me. Knowing that the game had been released in April 2006, I was a bit stunned to see how poor the graphics were and how cheesy the introduction played out. I actually pulled the disk out to make sure I had the right one in my console. Sure enough it was, and surprisingly the game looks and plays as if it were published about four years ago.

The learning curve takes about half an hour and after getting used to the controls the game becomes ridiculously easy. Most of the missions are based on your ability to be unseen and to move into enemy territory using Nazi uniforms that you’ll strip off your weary victims. One of the biggest letdowns is that the enemy’s artificial intelligence is aboyut as smart as a bag of marbles. They generally will not see you unless they are looking directly your way. There is also a radar screen that gives the exact location and direction an enemy is facing, making it that much more simple to sneak up behind them for a stealth kill. On particular levels you are only given certain weapons to start out with, such as a wire to strangle bad dudes and some coins to distract them. If you happen to blow your cover with this great arsenal, you may as well try throwing poo at them, and if this function were included in the game my review would probably be a lot better.

The sound effects are a nightmare and the only thing close to being real is the sound of gunfire. The death of a soldier will only result in one of two effects, either a ghost-like moan or the deathly ill howl of a hound dog, and it becomes extremely repetitive to the point of wanting to turn the sound off. The music was recorded by a live orchestra and, although beautiful, it’s a complete waste of time and money on behalf of Eidos.

Again, for a game that was only released a few years ago, the graphics and art really don’t hold a lot of substance. The landscapes are okay but at what cost? Your characters are very limited as to where they can go, hide or even utilize the wasted space of vast scenery. It reminds me a lot of the first Tomb Raider. You’re able to see a nice hiding spot, but you just can’t get to it.

The game also offers an online campaign, but from what I have heard it’s pointless because there is no one online to play with. The only other noted extra is the unlockable artwork, and how this has become a key feature in games lately is beyond me. Yes, it’s nice to look at composite sketches and what went into designing the game but really, who cares? It should be a feature included in the game, not something that needs to be unlocked.

I don’t even recommend renting this one. I was under the impression that this would be a nice shooter, but I found that about 75 percent of the game is more strategy and greatly based on trial and error. The overall play becomes very monotonous and eventually turns into mentally agonizing. I’m happy to put this puppy to rest with a big fat thumbs down.