If, like me, you missed the first two instalments in the Commando series, fret not, as Commandos 3 – HD Remaster is perfectly playable as its own self contained title. I guess the question that has to be at the top of everyone’s list, when looking at a game that’s natural home is on the PC, is how does it work on a console? Well, the developers, Raylight Games, are promising to bring “improved controls and a refined UI” to the game. With hopes high, let’s drop into enemy territory…
First of all the premise of Commandos 3 – HD Remaster and being absolutely honest, as I always strive to be in these reviews, the story on offer here seems a little slight. There doesn’t seem to be an overarching narrative; each chapter of the story has a series of objectives to achieve, and that’s about it. Remember that Nazis equals bad and you won’t go far wrong. The chapters and objectives all seem perfectly plausible, such as preventing the Nazis from looting a load of art works from a museum and so on, and the levels are also brutally hard and unforgiving. The whole tough as nails Commando thing is going to need to be present and correct to come out on top, that’s for sure.
So, how about the way that it all looks? With it being a HD Remaster the graphics should be pin sharp and looking awesome, yeah? Well, by and large, the answer is affirmative. Your little guys look the part, and it is fairly easy to tell the difference between them as you go. Let’s just say that you’re not going to get your thief mixed up with your sapper in the heat of battle. The characters and the enemies are fairly small, but this may have something to do with the scale of the levels that they have to move around in, which are pretty large.
The backdrops all look great as well, and with locales ranging from a German Embassy to a bombed out building, there is a lot of variety to be found in the visuals which are on display. The sounds are all pretty good as well, from the French accent of the thief, which has more than a whiff of the John Cleese about it, to the sounds of gunfire and whistles when your guys are inevitably spotted again and again; the presentation as a whole works well. There is a slight issue with the camera (I’ll get onto that), but it is all pretty good.
In terms of the action and in Commandos 3 – HD Remaster you play as a crack team of commandos, all with their own special talents. You have a sniper, as an example, who is rubbish up close and personal but adept at removing enemy soldiers from a million miles away; a thief, who can scale walls and pick locks; a spy who will happily don an enemy uniform and order the enemy soldiers about, and many more. At the start of each mission, we are given a selection of units, and are then left to use their abilities to make the most of the missions, with the sole aim of eventually coming out on top. Whether that be by sneaking about, or by using the sapper to blow enemy armour up, it all depends on the mission objectives and who we have to play with.
Taking a look at the first mission as an example to illustrate what I mean and we get the opportunity to have the thief and the spy in play, tasked with making it into a train station without raising the alarm. The thief has the ability to sneak, making him harder to detect, while the spy has a syringe that can neutralise the enemy if you are feeling kind; or kill them if not. As the mission starts, we are on the wrong side of the wire, and the world’s supply of Wehrmacht soldiers is looking at us. Sneaking seems like a good idea, and we can give the thief the deadly syringe if he is better able to use it, but the soldier’s fields of vision overlap quite a lot, and so it is pretty tricky to actually make a move. You have various tools you would expect, such as the ability to keep track of the cones of vision of any enemy if you choose to use them, and to be honest, Commandos 3 is not a game that rewards gung ho behaviour. A few minutes spent watching the guards, seeing where they look and picking your way in between them, or stealthily removing them from play and hiding the ensuing corpses or bound and gagged soldiers, is never time wasted.
I cannot stress enough how unforgiving it all is. The guards will spot your little toe if it is left poking out of cover, charging in en masse to ruin your whole day. Frequent saving is recommended by the tutorial, and boy do you need to make sure that you do, as one mistake can cause you to have to have to start the whole level again. This is all part of the challenge, however, and changing your usual all-out approach to action will be required to make progress.
Sadly, I am to stealth and considered action what Giant Haystacks is to a little light embroidery, so it took me a little while to get into the swing of things. It is however extremely rewarding when a plan comes together.
In all, and once you get to grips with what is needed, there are few issues with Commandos 3 – HD Remaster. But one of those is in regards the camera. See, it is fine on the large outdoor stages, but when the action moves indoors, it is seemingly almost deliberately stupid and obstructive. You can position the camera if you wish by holding down RB, but it is very difficult to get a decent angle in tight spaces. That in turn causes a few problems, mostly as you get shot by invisible guards. Other than this though, the actual game is a lot of fun, and the translation of the controls to a console controller has been done pretty well.
If you are looking for a challenging strategy type game and are prepared to put up with an annoying camera system, you’ve found it in Commandos 3 – HD Remaster. It provides a decent challenge, but if you like that and have the patience of a saint, this could be right up your strasse.
Commandos 3 – HD Remaster is on the Xbox Store