Commandos II

Appeared : September 2001
Developer : Eidos
Editor :
Distributor :
Official Web Site :
My opinion : The perfect follow-up to Commandos.

The title page
The Menu page
The in-game menu page

Ah, Commandos. The hardest strategy game I ever played, and then some. A perfectly original game, one of a kind. Commandos gave you several men, each specialized in a given domain. The Green Beret, expert at man-to-man combat and the only one strong enough to carry away a body, the Sniper, who never missed a shot, the Driver, the only one who could drive the vehicles of the game, the Diver, the only one who could go under water, etc.

With these highly specialized men, you were in charge of planning and executing around twenty missions, each one presenting a different challenge and getting harder than the one before. It came to a point where, once you finished a mission and thought you had lived the most difficult, tense and demanding mission the game could offer, you would get to the next mission and your eyes would go wide with disbelief, seeing a situation even worse than before.

In Commandos II, you will find the Green Beret, the Sniper, the Diver and their friends, but several changes have been made. The Driver has gone away, all your men can drive all the vehicles. Gone also is the fact that the Green Beret was the sole man able to carry away bodies and hide them. All your men can now carry slain enemies away. A good thing, you think, until you find that the added liberty has a price : the realism of the game has become even harder.

With the advances in technology, many things have became possible and the developers are taking full advantage of what can be found today in graphics and processor speed. When your commandos are silent, laying prone or crawling across the ground, you see the environment and your men and the enemy and everything seems normal. Then, you attack an enemy or start running and you see the sound waves circling the noise like ripples in the water - except that the ripples are in the air and tell you how far one needs to be to not hear the sound. Not to mention the great animations and wonderful quality and detail of everything. Trees and rocks look as natural as can be, and the sounds are perfect. Running on wood, grass, gravel and stone produces the corresponding sounds, giving a clear indication of what level of detail the game is capable of.

The challenges given by the missions are on par with the feelings the missions of the original Commandos gave. Even the training missions are perfectly balanced, giving you a good feel for what you need to do to get your men to do what is needed. A nice additional feature is the possibility to take a peek at what the next mission has in store for you without needing to complete the current mission. And you can already be sure that each will be harder than the one before.

The deadliest team on earth is back. Come see what they can do.

Mission Selector Intro sequence

How can anyone have a grudge against this game ? Well, there is one tiny point some will undoubtedly not be happy about. The fact that you cannot go to the next mission without completing the current one will try the patience of more than some. On the other hand, given the traditionally increasing nature of the difficulty in Commandos' missions, there really does not seem to be any point in going to the next mission if you can't finish the one you're on, since it can only get worse.

Another possible gripe is the lack of a mission editor with the game. It may come later, hopefully as a free download (yeah, one can always dream), when players have become acquainted with the game. Until then, there will be nothing to keep the game community together beyond the multiplayer capabilities.

The most important gripe I have is the fact that this game requires more than two screens and much more than two hands. Ideally, I'd like one screen per commando used, plus two hands, a mouse and a keyboard for each. Not to mention all the eyes that go with controlling everything. The big problem with Commandos II stems directly from its forefather : the enemy is controlled by the computer and reacts immediately and all at once. You may have the most fearsome team of sneaky cutthroats that have ever walked the earth, but you can only control one of them at a time. This places you at a serious disadvantage when things start getting hot. Which, in turn, makes things go out of control at a very fast pace.

Finally, the most frustrating issue is, without a doubt, the total lack of interactive help in the tutorial missions. If you do read the booklet before starting to play, you get a general idea of the screens and options, but no one tells you that the menus are dynamic, like Windows XP. If you do not look at the booklet and rely on the fact that todays games are much more intuitive and easily learnt, then you will be sorely disappointed and you'll get your ass kicked as long as you don't go and open the booklet. As described on another site, this game does not have a learning curve, it has a learning mountain (or should I say, cliff ?).

Nevertheless, this game obviously has the potential to live up to and beyond the expectations of the fans of the original game. A must have for serious strategy fans, no doubt there.