Commandos 3: Destination Berlin
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Pyro Studios has learnt the hard way that when offering a new game to the masses, less can often mean more. While far from disappointing, it is nonetheless a fact that Commandos 2 went the proverbial bridge too far. As beautiful as each meticulous level was and despite the love poured into every pixel, the missions were just too big, the task for the player sometimes too daunting and the key to unlocking the next gargantuan level often identical to the last. Rest assured, the lads have learned their lesson, and for the next episode in the tactical WWII series we can expect a considerably more varied and well-paced experience.
Das Ist Gut, Ja?
At first glance little has changed the levels are as beautifully 2D and intricate as they always have been, the characters natural and convincingly animated - this time as proper 3D polygonal models - and the interface enhancements allude to little above the cosmetic. Of course Commandos 3, now officially subtitled Destination Berlin, is not without some obvious graphical implants. There's a depth to the visuals that's unsurpassed in any isometric game I've ever seen, an effect achieved bythe multilayered environmental effects, such as the driving rain that overflows from guttering and drives into the ground rather than simply falling across the screen like some cheap visual trick.
Then there are the dramatic set pieces and in-game cut-scenes that hope to provide a more story-driven experience than the previous games. In fact, the game begins in pre-War London, at the German Embassy, where the game's leading lads will be introduced. From there it's off to the Russian front and the besieged city of Stalingrad, before heading to Berlin, occupied France and finally the D-Day landings. Each level will be interspersed with in-engine cut-scenes, from Nazi marches through the Brandenburg Gate to Steve McQueen-style motorbike chases across the countryside, explosions tearing into the ground as you go. Needless to say all of this will provide a much-needed narrative thread through the game and flesh out what were previously rather flat characters.
And those explosions are rather spectacular too. As shadows of German bombers flick across the already ruined city of Stalingrad early in the game, their devastating payload doesn't just leave a trail of explosions and smoke, but collapsing rubble and tumbling masonry, even a few snapping timbers. As far as global devastation and human suffering goes, never has it looked lovelier.
I think we could have made Commandos in 3D if we had wanted to, says lead designer Ignacio Perez. The main question is, would gameplay have benefited? I don't think so. Will it have the same level of graphical details? Perhaps, but will people have the PCs to enjoy that level of detail...? I don't think so, not yet."
The aim of the game is to conduct a secret war from behind enemy lines, leading a handful of skilled operatives in their attempts to disrupt and sabotage the Nazi war effort, whether it's assassinating officers or destroying military installations.
And it's the nature of the missions themselves that has received the most attention this time round. Where Commandos 2 featured nine sprawling maps, its sequel currently has around 25 set across three campaigns (Stalingrad, Central Europe and D-Day). Pyro wants to blur the distinction between the traditional concept of missions and campaigns, but instead of giving us one huge map to get lost in, the map will start small and expand as new events occur.
Missions will also evolve in a more cinematic fashion as you play through them. Sudden bombing raids might change the lay of the land completely, adding new objectives and tactical difficulties. One mission sees you creeping into a town to set up an ambush, posting snipers in the church tower and planting mines and explosives. Then the next mission sees the action kick off, as hundreds of Nazi reinforcements bear down on you and the mission becomes one of survival, reminiscent of the last desperate battle from Saving Private Ryan.
In terms of content," remarks Perez, Commandos 3 is going to have as much as Commandos 2. The difference is it will be structured in a different way. We don't want people to be playing the same map to death. Neither do we just want to add more maps and more characters for the sake of it. We don't want to make a game that's bigger, to say it contains more than 60 hours of gameplay. We want people to say, It took me 25 or 30 hours, but in that time I never did the same thing twice'."
Unless you decide to play through the game again of course, which even for Commandos veterans would be a first. The most significant differences this time round are not graphical, but in the very essence of the game design. The plan of attack is simple; to make Commandos 3 more accessible, varied and action-packed than any in the series so far. Somehow, I think they may just pull this one off.
Commandos Vs Kommandos
Get Ready For Isometric Deathmatch
Undoubtedly the most enduring new feature planned for Commandos 3 is the multiplayer mode, which for the first time in the series will offer a deathmatch' game. Little is being revealed at this late stage, but we're told that two player games will allow four soldiers on each team, with a healthy mix of Assault and Defend missions to choose from. How they'll play is anyone's guess but a 2D rendition of Counter-Strike might be an apt presumption, perhaps with a healthy dose of Spy Vs Spy for good measure. CTF and co-operative games are also being planned, but with the game's release tentatively scheduled for June, we find it odd that Pyro is keeping its cards so close to its chest on this subject. Either the developers are just being very secretive or it's all going horribly wrong back at base.
Download Commandos 3: Destination Berlin
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP