Commandos Strike Force Review

The Commandos series has its roots in a series of strategy games for the PC that provided play that was both unique and enjoyable. You were placed in command of a team of commandos, each with their own unique abilities and roles, and sent on missions behind enemy lines. Stealth and careful planning were key to surviving the mission and completing the objectives. A few years have passed and the commandos have returned in Commandos Strike Force, but in a slightly different form. The commandos each still have their own unique skills, although the team has been paired down to three, but this time out the game is a first-person shooter. Well, not entirely a shooter because the game still retains a heavy emphasis on stealth over run and gunning. It is a first-person experience, and a solo one at that even though the Commandos games have always emphasized teamwork. Hmm, this is sounding less and less like a Commandos game and more and more like another World War II console game…

The sniper's eye view.
OK, let’s put the comparisons to Commandos of old to rest since there’s not much to compare and look at the game on its own merit. Strike Force stars three, you guessed it, commandos, a sniper, a spy, and a Green Beret (note to Pyro Studios: the green beret was not used by US Special Forces until 1953).  The elite Green Beret plays pretty much as your standard Army gunner, but the sniper and spy have their own more unique talents. The sniper has a sniper rifle of course, but in addition is a master of blades. He can throw knives for a silent kill from a distance or sneak up to an enemy to deliver the knife blow in person. The spy can take uniforms off of dead enemy soldiers and infiltrate the ranks of the enemy. It sounds like there’s opportunity here to put together some interesting missions that require these three to work together in close concert. Sounds like. In the game this a missed opportunity as you end up controlling one of them at a time in missions that feel almost disjointed. The missions are pretty linear affairs that try to give you the illusion of a certain degree of freedom but don’t really succeed at it. The game is like three games in one since each of the characters plays differently, but none of them is particularly compelling.

The sniper is probably the most enjoyable of the three to play, but primarily for his knife skills. It can be fun to sneak up on an enemy and let loose a knife with the flick of your wrist to silently take out your foe. It doesn’t really matter where you aim your knife though; you can hit your target pretty much anywhere and he will drop to the ground. This detracts somewhat from the challenge and thus your sense of accomplishment, but not as much as does the enemy’s inconsistent AI. Sometimes every soldier within a mile radius will notice that a comrade has fallen and at other times a soldier will be completely oblivious to the fact that his close buddy has mysteriously disappeared. Even when they do get all riled up, if they fail to find you within a few minutes they’ll calm down and completely forget that they have an enemy in their midst. On many equations you’ll go tired of all the sneaking around for nothing and resort to blasting away at enemies with your sidearm. So much for your stealth character.

The sniper’s primary weapon is of course the sniper rifle, but in Strike Force this weapon is awkward to use. The field of view through the scope is too small to be of practical use for observation sweeps or trying to track a moving target. After you fire each round, the game switches to an animation of you emptying the chamber and loading the next round, which takes a long time and takes you out of the scope view. You’ll have to go through the process of sighting your target from scratch every time you fire a shot. This may be an accurate simulation of a WWII sniper rifle, but why bother adding a realistic sniper rifle to game that is far from a serious tactical sim? This is more than a minor nuisance because the game often puts you in a situation where you need to fend off multiple attackers with your sniper rifle.