Commandos 2: Men of Courage - game review

Date: 2001-10-16 11:01:00
The review was based on the PC version.

After taking the foil from the box with my trembling hands and skimping the instructions, I began to wonder how many months I had been waiting for the second part of the commandos to come out. I was about to give myself an answer based on the time spent reading announcements and watching photos and videos from the game, when the installation was finished and after a while I could once again assume the role of the commander of an elite commando unit.

Once again, because Commandos 2: Men of Courage is a continuation of an excellent series of strategy and tactical games launched in 1998 by Pyro Studios. It was then that the first part of this short, but rich in awards and achievements, cycle in which we led a group of soldiers at the heart of World War II hit stores around the world. In addition to the unique idea, Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines (because that was the name of the first part of the series about the adventures of commandos) had all the features of an excellent game - beautiful graphics, a multitude of possibilities and options and the rare "ability" to hold the player at the computer. Then, in accordance with the rules prevailing in the computer games market, a modest addition was released, which fulfilled the expectation for the proper continuation of the flagship product of Pyro Studios (it should not be forgotten, however, that the expansion, together with the first part, sold "only" in over two million copies won many prestigious computer entertainment awards).

It is no coincidence that I used the word "right" here, because it very often happens that instead of evolving and changing for good, the next game in the series goes backwards in its intentions and only tarnishes the good name of the title. However, at the outset, to dispel all doubts, I can say that the people from Pyro Studios have not forgotten how to make great games ...

However, while setting up the game options and learning about the keyboard, I felt a bit of a fear about what the new commando adventures would look like. On the one hand, I believed the developers' assurances, as the new graphics engine perfectly fulfilled the game's assumptions and perfectly fit into the character of the game. Nevertheless, I felt certain concerns that the graphic fireworks might not destroy the unique atmosphere of the first part and the expansion pack. However, after switching on the training missions that were necessary to start the right tasks, all my doubts and objections were positively dispelled in a few seconds.

What is the difference between the graphical engine of the second part and the previous titles of the series? Probably many of you, during the dangerous actions in the first parts of the commandos, complained about the inability to see what was happening on the other side of the building, on the other side of some other large structure. In this matter, everything has changed drastically, because we still observe the actions of our pupils "from a bird's eye view", but the angle of incidence of the camera on the entire action can be freely rotated every 90 degrees. The use of such revolutionary changes resulted in the cost of creating all buildings, items, character animations and other graphic effects in a full three-dimensional environment, which on the one hand provides the characteristic atmosphere and beauty of the game, but on the other hand strains the "engines" of our computers. Nevertheless, the skills of graphic designers were used to the maximum and we got atmospheric locations, the character of which cannot be represented by any photos or videos.

They are simply dazzling, breathtaking. Each barrel, each building, each log of the wooden deck are polished and perfectly finished. Everything creates a unique atmosphere and atmosphere, where even the locations from Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines seem pale and sparse. Here you should pay attention to the incredible precision of Pyro Studios graphics. Each element of the environment is perfectly reproduced - leaves on trees, tiles on roofs, aircraft wings, gutters, chimneys, window sills - and everything creates a unique whole.

In addition, thanks to the evolution of the entire game, we can also follow the actions of our commandos in apartments, buildings, tents and huts. Full interaction also applies to entering submarines, canals, churches, airplanes and many other locations, where the details (desks, cabinets, stairs, ladders, chests, etc.) are not worse than those on the ground. In this type of room, we can rotate the screen at any angle, which provides complete freedom in carrying out actions against the enemy. It also provides the ability to set high resolution (up to 1024 by 768 pixels) and any zooming in and out of the action, known from the first part of the game and the expansion.

When it comes to the game engine and new graphic fireworks, I consider the changes to be a big step forward and meet the requirements of players who wanted to get a completely new game with a new graphic environment. Anyway, Commandos 2: Men of Courage could be successfully treated as a separate title, because the revolutions and innovations (not only in graphics) are so far advanced that only the idea itself and the characters are comparable to previous episodes of commandos.

Speaking of the heroes - the ranks of our selected unit (which previously consisted of a sapper, sniper, spy, driver, diver and a Butcher specializing in the use of melee weapons), as announced, were enriched with three characters. The first one is Natasha Nikochevski, who has mastered the characteristics of a sniper and a spy to perfection - she can shoot sniper rifles as well as distract opponents from sensitive places and points. The second person to join our elite group is Paul Toledo, known under the pseudonym Lupine. He is a thief "by profession" who, thanks to his dexterity, can climb walls and pillars, jump into houses through windows and open locked chests and doors. The third new character is a Bullterrier, whose task is to transport important items between groups of commandos that are far away from each other.

Thanks to such a mix of personalities and even greater diversification of the skills of our pupils, the game requires us to plan activities in the enemy camps more efficiently. We rarely have access to the strongest link of our brigade, the Butcher, so we will have to use the skills of all commandos at every step. There are, however, some exceptions to the rule, such as a one-sided sapper, which is used only for placing explosives and detonating mines, but apart from his main profession, he seemed to be necessary only a few times when performing tasks.

When it comes to the tasks and objectives in individual missions, there have also been some cosmetic changes here. In the first part of the game and the expansion, we usually had one specific goal (sometimes and more, but such situations happened very rarely). Here, the commands have been significantly varied and usually during one mission we have to fulfill several tasks, most often thematically unrelated. Rescuing an English aviator, blowing up a bridge, stealing a notorious coding machine, defending previously seized positions are just a few of the many orders given to us by the command. In addition, there are secondary mission objectives that are not necessary to complete, but their implementation is rewarded and scored. And finally "Clues", which are hints and tips helpful in carrying out missions.

The mechanics and the main assumption of the game, however, have not changed. Still, as I mentioned before, the game is divided into missions that we have to complete using the available commandos. Although the way of performing these tasks depends only on us, the game promotes the quietest and most peaceful actions possible without raising an alarm in the enemy's camp. This is also how the commando units, which became famous for their historic achievements during the Second World War, operated (and still do).

Commandos 2: Men of Courage also evolved in the ways of performing tasks. While in the first part and the expansion, we had practically only one way to achieve a specific goal, here we can get to the enemy camp in several ways, for example. Entering through the front door using force, driving a car into the headquarters as military officials, swimming from the docks, getting to the enemy camp through a poorly guarded entrance are just examples of the trivial task - getting to the base of German submarines.

Everything is possible thanks to numerous changes in the very capabilities of the commandos. Each of them can swim and dive. The green beret and the thief, thanks to their dexterity, can climb poles and travel on cables to reach places that are normally inaccessible. Lupine has mastered entering buildings through windows and tight openings and using lockpicks to open closed doors, and the Butcher can use his strength to make locked and locked doors. There are also many items and weapons, such as wine bottles, Molotov cocktails, bazookas, flamethrowers and gas grenades, which will surely delight the supporters of the "loud" mission.

As I mentioned, there are quite a few changes compared to the previous parts and it would take a long time to list them all. However, one thing has not changed - gameplay, which is still at the highest level. The game offers us a whole range of possibilities, in a beautiful graphic envelope. After completing one task, we do not feel bored, but wait for the next one, because we can expect something completely new. In addition, the climate and the entire setting of the tasks performed change from mission to mission. Once at night, we steal the Enigma from the German submarine base, and in the next mission, we are on a Japanese island and destroy anti-aircraft guns, or in the Arctic we cross the enemy's plans. It is true that there are only ten missions (which is a big downside of this game), but while completing the tasks, we find parts of pictures hidden in cabinets and desks, which, when put together, provide short additional missions (not always serious, because in one of them we play the role a commando sentenced to slalom in a boat between ... water mines).

In Commandos 2: Men of Courage, you can not complain about the sound effects and music, which for each mission is completely different (it changes even when entering buildings and diving to the bottom of the ocean) and has been perfectly suited to the nature of the activities carried out. These are very atmospheric musical themes, which even the authors of soundtracks to movies about the Second World War would not be ashamed of.

The most important changes also include the factors of endurance, oxygen and cold, which, depending on the conditions, decrease and cause significant damage to health among commandos. In addition, finally, limited real-world equipment has been introduced, peering into the rooms through ajar doors or windows, richly represented by crocodiles, piranhas, sharks, seals, walruses and elephants, the animal world, jumping out or shooting through the windows of each building (a sniper placed in the window "Taking down" opponents with his rifle).

As I mentioned before, there are so many changes and new options that many players consider Commandos 2: Men of Courage to be a completely new game, having nothing to do with the previous parts. However, it is still a good product, which, thanks to the new possibilities and development, has become the basic position of not only every commando fan, but every computer player, as interesting games are not often released.

Interesting by the way, but like any other, it did not avoid mistakes and shortcomings. Probably the worst thing that can be accused of new commandos are quite high hardware requirements. A slow processor and a weak graphics card takes its toll especially at the end of the game, when the location and number of enemies on the map is enormous and some computers may have problems with correct operation and reading events from the screen. Besides, the game seemed a little too short for me. It is true that we have three levels of difficulty at our disposal, but after so many months of waiting, some counted on something more than several dozen hours of fun. You can also regret the lack of a level editor, which would certainly contribute to the expansion and such great popularity of commandos (which, as some rumors said, was supposed to be included in the Commandos 2 package). The disadvantages include the lack of help for novice commanders, because there are no missions in the game to initiate the player in using the interface and basic program options, and the "training" missions throw us into the deep end from the very beginning. Apart from these few bugs and shortcomings, which for some players seem trivial and insignificant, despite my best efforts, it's really hard for me to mention any stumbles by people from Pyro Studios that would affect the success of this title in particular.

After dozens of hours spent as the commander of an elite commando group, completing countless tasks and missions, and at the same time having an amazing time, I can honestly recommend Commandos 2: Men of Courage to every computer player. It is extremely rare for me to play such a good, perfectly refined product, which in terms of graphics, gameplay, sound effects and any other criteria, is an excellent product, breathtaking, setting new criteria for a perfect game.

Karol "Terf Caednom" Papala