Commandos 3: Destination Berlin PC CD-ROM

Published by Eidos
Developed by Pyro Studios
Released: Out Now
Price: £29.99

Pyro Studios couldn’t have been aware of how influential their first Commandos title was going to be. If imitation really is the sincerest form of flattery then Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines has been flattered like no other title out there as all kinds of games have since been released that were obviously influenced by the Pyro Studios World War II based gem. After a standalone expansion and very successful, multiplatform sequel we finally have the third game in the series. Commandos 3 changes the formula slightly but still retains the hard as nails approach that the series is famed for.

Once again we are reunited with the Green Beret, the Diver, Spy, Sniper, Sapper and Thief and it’s up to you to guide them through three campaigns set in Stalingrad, Central Europe and Normandy. It’s not going to be easy though and Commandos 3 is absolutely rock hard in places and virtually impossible in others. The missions for each campaign are not always on a new map. Some maps are huge and a mission will simply be concerned with a small area of the map. The missions feel very combat heavy this time around and this is a little disappointing for myself as the stealthy nature of the series has always appealed to me. For better or for worse the game contains a fair amount of missions that are time limited and this serves to make the atmosphere more tense. You can always save the game but it’s a shame that only one quicksave slot is used because if you save in a precarious position you’ll be in a terrible situation and restarting the mission could be your only hope.

There are two tutorials that will introduce you to a few of the games concepts. The first of these has you controlling the Green Beret and the Sapper and introduces you to the games very basic concepts such as character control and weapon use. You’ll also learn how to knock enemies out, tie them up, use a sniper rifle and detonate explosives. The second tutorial sees you controlling the Spy and Thief as you attempt to break into a chateau and steal some documents. Here you’ll learn how to climb walls, sedate and distract enemies. What becomes obvious from these tutorials though, whilst they are good, is that the interface is hard work (more on that in a moment). The tutorials, for my liking, do not go into enough depth. It would be great to control all the characters and get used to carrying out all their functions. A game such as Commandos 3 needs you to be fully versed in all your characters’ individual abilities.

Whilst you are always looking for a sequel to advance a series there are always some aspects that either don’t improve or are simply not as good as in previous titles. Sadly the interface in Commandos 3 is far poorer than the one used in Commandos 2 and not only do certain functions require too many mouse clicks to access but the amount of hotkey commands is very low and not sufficient at all for a game that demands split second timing. It was disappointing to load up Commandos 2 and see how much the interface has been downgraded for Commandos 3. In Commandos 2 all of your weapons and items/actions had a given hotkey command and this allowed you to act quickly. This is not possible in Commandos 3 and it makes a difficult game even more difficult.

Commandos 3 is in full 3D and to some degree this is a mixed blessing. When most games make the transition from 2D to 3D they usually end up losing detail but Commandos 3 has managed to retain it’s finely detailed architecture and impressive looking terrains. The problem, as is so often the case with 3D titles, is the game camera which can become a chore to control. When you’re inside a building the camera rotates very smoothly and you can turn it to an angle to suit yourself. Out in the open though you can can only adjust the camera in 90 degree increments and it’s not uncommon to find yourself with a camera angle that just isn’t suitable. The camera angle problems also mean that it’s occasionally difficult to see enemies, which can be a problem. Thankfully though pressing the F5 key will highlight your enemies. It’s rather odd that the game is locked at a resolution of 800×600 and I would imagine this is irritating to users of TFT monitors whose native resolution far exceeds this, as they will lose some picture quality. It’s even more disappointing when Commandos 2 allowed you to pick your desired screen resolution.

Commandos 3 is certainly more deaf gamer friendly than previous games in the series. All of the cutscenes and tutorials are fully subtitled. The only unsubtitled speech is the comments you receive from enemy units and your own units when you give them orders to perform. You can recall your objectives at any time, which is always welcome. I was disappointed to see that they had removed the sound ripple that visually displayed how much noise your character was making. With a game as complex as Commandos 3 a manual that goes into great depth is always appreciated but unfortunately whilst the manual is a fairly decent one, by today’s standards, it leaves a lot of questions unanswered.

Despite the numerous oddities with the game Commandos 3 is a challenging and enjoyable experience. If you didn’t like the other Commandos games though then you won’t appreciate Commandos 3. The missions are difficult and thanks to a rather disappointing interface you’ll probably come to grief on more than one occasion. It’s not as stealthy as previous titles in the series but it definitely has it’s moments. The multiplayer elements are OK but are certainly not as attractive as the single player game. Commandos veterans will like the game but will be surprised that it hasn’t been built upon the excellent Commandos 2.

Overall Game Rating: 7.4/10
Commandos 3 is a good game but unfortunately a poor interface and a heavy shift to combat rather than stealth means it’s not in the same class as the previous games.

Deaf Gamers comment:
All important information is subtitled.