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Platform

Xbox

 

Genre

Shooter

 

Publisher

Eidos

 

Developer

Pyro Studios

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

Q1 2006

 

 

- Shooting controls, especially for the sniper, are nice and responsive
- Good 20-hours-or-so single-player story with cinematic-driven action

 

 

- Online servers are a ghost town Ė nobodyís playing over Xbox Live
- An abundance of invisible walls
- Another World War II-based FPS? Isnít this genre saturated enough already?

 

 

Review: Brothers in Arms: The Road to Hill 30 (XB)

Review: Call of Duty 2: Big Red One

 

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Commandos Strike Force

Score: 7.0 / 10

 

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One problem faces Commandos Strike Force. Itís not that it is a terrible game, because it isnít. It actually is better than many similar first-person shooter titles, with the ability to switch between specialized characters during gameplay when the particular skill of one of the other commandos is required. It has more stealth-style gameplay than the average FPS, and has a good single-player story to follow with accompanying cinematic cut-scenes. But if thereís ever a gaming genre thatís been completely saturated with too many similar titles, itís the World War II FPS.

I mean, how many games that have you battling against the Nazis do you expect the average gamer to play? Even if they are a big fan of the WWII FPS genre, there comes a point when the next game is one game too many. Especially, as in the

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case of Commandos Strike Force, when it has sometimes too linear gameplay with too many invisible walls, mediocre graphics, and despite Xbox Live support, absolutely no online multiplayer opportunities whatsoever, an absolute sin for a FPS of any genre.

However, as I said, despite being another in the long, long line of WWII FPS games, Commandos Strike Force

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does have some positive attributes. It has a solid plot that isnít a total retread from previous games despite being based on the history of WWII (but I must mention a mission thatís sort-of ďrip-offĒ of the first Indiana Jones movie, where you must recover a ďrelicĒ of some sort before that Nazis do). You are in charge of a three-person commando strike force, infiltrating the Nazi stranglehold on Europe. You have the heavy-hitting Green Beret, the eagle-eye sniper and the deceptive spy under your control. Missions usually take on two forms: the spy missions, where youíre on your own using guile and stealth to accomplish the goal at hand. Other missions, which employ a bit more strategic gameplay to be successful, require switching between the sniper and the Green Beret to vanquish Hitlerís men.

Traveling all across the European theater of war, from France to Norway to Russia, you must use the abilities of all three commandos to get yourself through the 20-hours-or-so story mode, which is kept more interesting by the accompanying cinematic cut-scenes that tell the gameís story (although the voice acting is not that well done, knocking the gameís cinematic quality down a few notches).

While you are forced to follow an almost too linear path to meet your objectives, the game does allow some freedom in giving gamers alternate paths to finish your goals, although one path generally is a suicide mission compared to a stealthier road. And there is an abundance of invisible walls that frustratingly block seemingly travelable areas throughout. I have to say, though, that at least there are plenty of objectives to complete, as most missions last at least a half hour in order to advance to the next mission.

 

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Also making objective completion easier, despite some pretty taxing challenges in many missions (particularly later in the game), is the excellent game controls. Targeting enemies for weapon fire is really fluid, as is the actual shooting, especially for the sniper. When you use the sniper to target Nazis, focusing the shot (by going into a bullet-time state using the left trigger that slows gameplay down so you can ďfocusĒ your shot better) is one of the gameís more gratifying gameplay elements, especially as you witness the blood spray that flies from your successfully hit (and now dead) targets.

Graphically, Commandos Strike Force is a mix of mediocre environmental visuals, with a variety of different looks from bombed-out cities to small French towns to the snow-covered fjords of Norway, along with good character modeling, including very good animated behavior that gives each a realistic movement appearance.

So the single-player action is generally a good time. Letís talk about the multiplayer. Or rather, the lack of multiplayer in Commandos Strike Force. Iíve experienced a first with Commandos Strike Force in relation to its online play via Xbox Live. Iíve played games that had very little players online. But Commandos Strike Force is the only game Iíve ever attempted to play on Xbox Live where there wasnít a single player playing.

Not one. I literally had the entire online game to myself. It isnít like this is a just released title either. Itís been out nearly two months. I didnít ever think I would be on Xbox Live with a FPS game and not have anybody to compete against. That tells me that Commandos Strike Force must not be exactly flying off store shelves (and it may be telling developers that enough already, no more WWII FPS games for a while!)

Good controls and a good story with gameplay that requires strategic thinking and allows for switching between characters place Commandos Strike Force somewhere in the middle ground of WWII FPS titles. If you are one of the few Xbox gamers who hasnít tired of the genre that has you fighting Hitlerís Nazi forces yet again, then Commandos Strike Force is a good title to play, but only if you are looking for a good, 20-hours-or-so single-player shooter, because unfortunately there isnít any online play to speak of.

- Lee Cieniawa
lcieniawa@armchairempire.com

(May 25, 2006)

 

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