Commandos 2: Men of Courage

a game by Eidos Interactive
Platforms: Playstation 2, PC
Editor Rating: 7.7/10, based on 3 reviews
User Rating: 6.3/10 - 7 votes
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See also: WW2 Games

The early 1940s were hard times. Young men were sent away to war to lose life, limbs and mind, countries were turned to rubble and rationing forced the nation to live on a diet of powdered egg and hot gravel.

Well, if they thought they had it tough they should have tried playing Commandos. Many a hardened journalist has been brought to his knees while playing the World War II strategy bestseller. The insanely high difficulty level, unforgiving gameplay and the fact that you couldn't save in-game saw you repeatedly restarting levels, only to see your soldiers dead before you knew what was going on. It's a testament to the game's quality that, although it was so demanding it should have been confined to a modest fanbase of hardcore gamers, it became a massive hit, topping every chart in the computer-playing world.

Well, Commandos 2 is not only more accessible, it's also much better looking, immensely playable and quite probably the most detailed game we've ever seen. It gsenrestobe an even bigger hit. This is a real world miniaturised to fit onto your screen, not some chalked up sketch. There are 12 missions spread out across ten locations. And if you think 12 isn't that many, you haven't taken in our comments about them being huge.

For Example

You start off in a Normandy village, devastated by bombings (not unlike the one in Saving Private Ryart) and occupied by Germans. This is the smallest map in the game, but it will still take you around three to five hours to complete. There are dozens of buildings, a river you need to cross, loads of Nazis and a big gunfire battle raging on between Allied and German soldiers at one end of the level.

Another map has a full-size replica of the Eiffel Tower, which you can explore fully, and another an absolutely enormous aircraft carrier. There are changes of scenery with a tropical island of crystal clear waters and a submarine base in the snow-covered Iceland. WWII buffs will probably enjoy the level on Colditz the most; the prison duplicated in such astounding detail you could spend all week just looking at it, never mind playing in it. And it just might take you a week to complete some of the levels, although the fact that there's no set path, and no right way to complete a level encourages exploration and experimentation.

But what's really incredible about Commandos 2 is the overwhelming sense of actually being there, the total immersion in a realistic surrounding. This feeling is not uncommon to good first-person games, or even third-person ones, where you move through the environment and use the screen as an extension of your eyes; but in a top-down strategy game?

But it's the perfectly balanced (if occasionally tilting to a mammoth challenge) gameplay that will keep you coming back again and again. No matter how many times you fail, you always manage to get that little bit further, and the sense of achievement easily surpasses the frustration you might feel now and again. There is just so much to see, so much to do, that you simply have to keep going if only to see what happens next. The best way to show you is to give you a few examples.

In the Iceland map, cute little waddling penguins will be alarmed and bring attention to you if they spot you, while polar bears will attack you. In rather hotter climates, you'll find an island with a shipwrecked loony who is perfect for diversions and a group of Japanese school children that you need to rescue. But this being the perfect pinnacle of attention to detail (sorry, there's that word again) the kids run away frightened, calling for help from the German soldiers as soon as they see your scruffy, square-jawed strangers. First you need to find their teacher on another part of the island. When they see him, they'll calm down and come with you quietly.

If you decide to swim underwater, there are not only schools of tropical fish, but also piranhas and sharks competing for a piece of your flesh. Your machine-gun doesn't work in the water, so what do you do? How about getting out and spraying the sea with bullets from the large stationary guns mounted on the shore?

There are so many examples like these we could go on forever, but we'll squeeze a couple more delightful moments, just to whet your appetite even further. Like the way your thief can use his rat to distract soldiers or how you can give Whiskey a grenade and tell him to drop it at the feet of a bunch of Nazis, who are still wondering what a dog is doing there when their eyeballs explode.

Want to kill a high-ranking officer entrenched in a room at the top floor of a heavily guarded building? No problem. Simply send your sniper to a nearby structure, find a suitable window and you can target him across the street. In fact, windows are a valuable feature in the game. You can climb in and out of them, shoot through them and even stick your head through to spy into the interior.

"5-1.5-1.5-1!"

Is anyone left cynical enough to be unimpressed? Perhaps we should tell you that you can drive all sorts of vehicles (the aircraft carrier is so big you need a jeep to get from one end to the other) and even command groups of soldiers outside your group. You can't control them directly but you can give them different stances and tell them who and when to attack. They're perfect to cause diversions and to set up massive ambushes.

What else can we possibly say? The interface is easy to use and a considerable improvement on the last one. You can interact with everything in sight and you can play the whole thing in multiplayer co-op mode. (We'll be adding to this single-player review with an online mark next issue if servers are up and running.) A hearing range has been added to the extremely helpful line of sight of your enemies, making stealth even more important. You can tie up unconscious soldiers and steal their clothes. And while these won't let you get away completely undetected if you get too close to the enemy, they serve their purpose from a prudent distance.

The gameplay might still be too fiddly for some, requiring real patience and perseverance. But the only real criticism we can think of is that it's just too big, too overwhelming and dare we say it, slightly repetitive in nature. The fact that the very first level takes more than three or four hours on an Easy setting might put first-timers off, but hopefully the challenging one-more-go-and-I'll-finish-it mentality will mean that even more people buy, play and complete this sequel.

It does so many things you feel like cowering in awe at both its grandeur and the gargantuan task ahead of you. To use the WWII film analogy the game so closely observes, it's a three-hour epic (or 50-hour epic, if you will) with an all-star cast, shot on location all over the world with an unlimited budget. Not only that, it's the DVD the deleted scenes. And you'll want to watch it again and again.

Sequels to successful games are always suspicious creatures, products of a business impulse rather than the creative drive of an artist, made to make money and cash in on that success rather than developing a genuine artistic vision. Not Commandos 2. Gonzo Suarez is a visionary on a par with Peter Molyneux or Warren Spector, not the organ-grinder to a corporate machine. The game shares with other sequels the higher budget, the better graphics, the more-of-everything-only-bigger and the number 2. But it's more like The Empire Strikes Back and The Godfather Part II, with its own glorious battle of Hoth and Havana scenes. It's a continuation with a life of its own that doesn't just rehash old ideas. And you simply must play it.

If it's a WWII film, it's in Commandos 2

World War II isn't just an historical event ot monstrous proportions, where millions of people died and whole continents suffered horribly. It's part of our mythology. It resides in our collective consciousness, where it can be reshaped into a world of endless fascination. Books, comics and especially films have constructed another WWII. One full of heroes and anti-heroes, of larger-than-life characters and extreme situations. It's almost like an alien universe (in many ways, Star Wars is a WWII film in space). And It's in these films that Commandos 2 has looked for inspiration. And boy has it found it. From Saving Private Ryan to The Guns of Navarone, passing through the level set on Bridge Over The River Kwai, the game steals and adapts from the very best, making each mission an epic WWII film in its own right.

Download Commandos 2: Men of Courage

Playstation 2

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

PC

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

Game Reviews

Following the release for the PC, Eidos has taken their action strategy game, Commandos 2: Men of Courage and released it on the Playstation 2. Set during World War II, the army has recognized the need for a specially trained group of men capable of infiltrating the enemy and causing chaos. From this the Commandos were created as eight trained specialists with different skills and abilities will attempt to complete their missions, helping win the war against the Third Reich.

As you take the Commandos through the twelve missions, they'll encounter and interact with over eleven different environments as they steal enemy uniforms and weapons, climb poles, swing from cables, and use vehicles. If you're concerned about there only being twelve missions, don't be, as it takes some time to finish them. Most will have to restart a number of times as you try different strategies for each mission. Unfortunately, console gamers have historically not had the same patience as PC gamers and may get frustrated attempting to finish the missions.

The graphics also may frustrate console gamers as the focus of this game is the strategy element. The graphics aren't bad with well developed backgrounds, but the commandos are small and not detailed well. In addition, icons are used throughout the game to select an action for a specific commando. These icons are extremely difficult to see and it takes some time to get used to recognizing the action of each icon.

This game requires more patience then the average console game, and strategy fans will probably be the only ones that fully appreciate it. Although it is good to see different genres coming to the Playstation 2, Commandos 2: Men of Courage has a few issues that keep it from breaking into the mainstream.

Overview

Woooooooooo Hooooooooo. The boys are back in town. Inferno, Tiny, Fins, Tread, Duke -- all your favorites from the original Commandos are back after some much needed R&R, and now they’re ready to take on the German and Japanese armies. You’ll be sneaking into enemy bases, stealing Enigma machines to help the war effort, flying in hot air balloons and posing as a German officer, all in the name of democracy. Commandos 2 comes with two training missions and ten game missions. While this may seem small in size, you have to remember that a full install for this game is a huge three GB. This gives you an idea of how large the maps are for the ten missions, not to mention the bonus missions if you and your commandos find the hidden bonuses throughout the game. Throw in Multiplayer and you have one huge commando sandwich on your hands. Commandos is as good a game as they come in regards to the RTS genre. All of the missions look beautiful, with huge attention to detail and challenging objectives. What are you waiting for? Sharpen up your bayonet and read on.

Gameplay, Controls, Interface

Commandos 2 is a real-time strategy game that puts you in charge of nine commandos during WWII. Each mission has a list of objectives that must be completed for the mission to be considered successful, and at the end of the mission you are graded on how well the mission was executed. Commandos 2 has the same feel as most RTS games with a "look down" view over the entire map. All actions that your Commandos perform can be done using either the point and click method or hot-key method. I highly recommend that you learn to use all of the hot keys; it just takes too much time to be pointing and clicking, especially when a German patrol needs quick killing.

One of the best aspects of Commandos 2 is the ability to play missions and find a different way to complete them. I like to sneak nice and quiet in Commandos, then stand up and rip out my enemy's throat with my knife. Other players might prefer shooting everything, but it really doesn’t matter because most times the missions can be completed playing either style. You’ll also notice that it will take your entire group of commandos to complete a mission. Each one of your commandos has special skills that only they can use, so if you’re in need of explosives only your Sapper commando can do the job for you, which really makes you learn each commandos skills and how to use them best. Another thing that will have you drooling all over your green beret will be the huge number of weapons you can use to subdue, kill, incapacitate or just generally raise some hell. Commandos 2 had me on the edge of my seat the entire time. The game is that good at sucking you in. I would find myself holding my breath as a German guard passed by Tiny just out of view. I would also wait tensely for a few seconds after taking that same guard out, wondering if the alarm was going to sound.

Unfortunately there are usually bad points to a game and I’m saddened to report there are a few in Commandos 2. The first thing that really sucks is the save feature. Why is there no instant quick save in the game? In this type of game it is a must to have a Hot Key quick save -- I don’t want to have to hit the escape button and then save. The entire save process screws up the whole flow of the game. My other rant has to do with the mission briefings. I really wish they would have included a replay button on the mission briefs because they go entirely too fast and it would be nice to go back and view the movie mission brief instead of having to read it. Okay I’m done, other than that, I’m a happy commando.

Multiplayer

I really feel that Commandos 2 is a single player game that is best enjoyed by yourself with a cold brew. I found it was extremely difficult to play with people that I’d never met before because they didn’t really know my style of play, which at times turned missions into a total nightmare. But there is good news to be had. I had my buddy buy a copy of the game and we had a blast playing missions together. The reason it worked well was because normally we’d take turns playing on my computer, so we have each learned how the other likes to play the game. Now when we play online, it works very well because of our teamwork.

Graphics

Can you say the word beautiful? If not, then you’d better learn because that’s exactly what you’re going to be repeating over and over when you see the different missions throughout the game. The attention to detail is amazing. My favorite mission has to be Mission Two because of the size and beauty of the map. You must covertly enter a German submarine base and rescue some allied soldiers and their sub, and then blow the whole place up with some remote bombs. What made this mission my favorite was the attention to detail concerning the German base. There are mess halls filled with German soldiers and a fuel depot that is being repaired by workmen. I could go on and on for days about all the eye candy that is included in each mission, but just trust me when I say that the graphics will suck you in like a black hole and keep you coming back for more. Another thing that will really pop out at you is the wonderful use of colors in the game, everything is so vibrant but not loud. This is one game that is pleasing to the eye in every way.

Audio

The music is absolutely wonderful in Commandos 2. During tense scenes in the game the music will pick up speed and sound a little more ominous, but if you’re in no immediate danger the music stays at a mellow pace. The entire musical soundtrack has a distinct WWII feel to it which really draws you into the game even more. I did find that mission briefings were sometimes difficult to understand and I could never pinpoint why that was the case, aside from being poorly recorded. If you’ve ever played any of the earlier installments of Commandos you will notice right from the start that the voices of your Commandos characters really suck big time. The very first Commandos games had a cast of voices for the characters that was great. Each voice fit that character perfectly and sadly they were not able to reach that goal in Commandos 2, but if you’ve never played this series of games before then that won’t be an issue. I do need to point out that the character voices also get a bit repetitive when issuing commands, but you’ll hardly notice because of how hard you’re concentrating on reaching your mission objectives.

System Requirements

PII 300 MHz or better, Windows 98SE or ME, 32MB RAM, 4X CD-ROM, DirectX 8.0 or higher, 2GB hard disk space, DirectX compliant sound card, and a DirectX 8.0 Video Card with 12MB VRAM.

Documentation

The only complaint I have with the manual has to do with the fact that there was no "Hot Key" card enclosed in the game. Commandos 2 has such a huge list of hot keys that it is absolutely necessary for a hot key card. The other thing that bothered me about the manual is that nowhere does it tell you that you must play with CD#3; you just have to figure it out on your own. Things like that should be very straightforward in documentation.

Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a tough and challenging RTS game then you should stop reading this review and get your butt down to the local software store and buy this game. I know for a fact that this fall I will be spending many a sleepless night taking my commandos on treacherous missions in hopes of killing as many Nazis as possible. On that note: feed the dog, kiss the wife goodbye, and tell work that you’re very ,very sick then start playing Commandos 2, and don’t blame me when you’re staring at the ceiling in the middle of the night thinking about how you could have completed the mission a better way. 89/100 enough said!!!!

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