Behind Enemy Lines

Commandos, from Eidos Interactive and Pyro Studios, is a real-time strategy game based on actual World War II events. Commandos puts the player in charge of six individual special forces operatives, each with his own specialties and weapons. Recommended for fans of WWII movies like "The Great Escape" and "The Dirty Dozen." Price: $40. The graphics on the Eidos Web site are as creative as the graphics in their games. They have contests, demos, clubs, forums, links, and news.
As Commandos is a challenging game to play, with an extremely intelligent and always alert enemy, I would suggest it for intermediate or advanced game users. There are 20 different missions and they take patience, puzzle solving skills, and thought to out-maneuver the AI or Artificial Intelligence. Blazing guns will get you nowhere with this game.

Background–It is the late 1940s, and the Axis forces control all of Wester Europe. The German army is gathering strength for an imminent invasion of Great Britain. A British officer, Lieutenant Colonel Dudley Clark, has created a special unit with a handful of exceptional men who are skilled at handling any type of weapon and excel in all forms of combat. These Commandos work in small units, carrying out stealthy raids.

Commandos--You are in charge of a unit of six Commandos. You must go behind enemy lines and destroy their forces. And, you can't lose any of your men. They are indispensable, as each Commando has unique combat abilities that others cannot match. You need to eliminate every enemy who stands in your way without any of the other enemies noticing. And they see footprints, dead bodies, and hear everything unless you are silent. You have to coordinate your troops. For instance, the marine is an adept killer, but he needs the Green Beret's brawn to dispose of bodies. The men are:

  • Green Beret "Tiny" (there were no Green Berets in WWII, though)–the brute force of the operation.
  • Marine "Fins"–the Australian alcoholic and silent killer who can control water vehicles and sneak under water.
  • Driver "Tread"–the man who controls land vehicles.
  • Spy "Spooky"–a French nationalist that can imposter Germans. He can also distract and poison the enemy.
  • Sniper "Duke"–English Royalty and a long range lone gunman.
  • Sapper "Inferno"–the fiery destruction person who places and detonates explosives.

Missions--The missions cover various theaters from Norway to North Africa to Normandy; each mission is open-ended enough to let you beat the enemy in a variety of different ways. Commandos uses a scoring system that will make you want to go back and play a mission again just so you can do it faster and more efficiently. There are:

  1. Seven missions inspired by the Commando raids in Norway.
  2. Five missions in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia centered on the war in North Africa.
  3. Three missions in France, during the period that begins with the Invasion of Normandy (D-Day).
  4. Five missions that take place during the final assault on the Third Reich.

At the start of each mission, you will be given a briefing. These brief instructions outline the context of the mission and your team's objectives. You will receive such information as:

  • The strategic circumstances in which the mission takes place.
  • The main objective of the mission. Examples include blowing up an enemy installation, rescuing a prisoner or the "elimination" of an enemy general. And, you have several secondary objectives that must be completed in order to complete the main endeavor. If you do not succeed in the main objective, you will not have successfully completed the mission and will not be allowed to continue onto the next assignment.
  • A brief mission run through by Colonel Smith in which you will be given the position of the objectives, the location of the points of interest or danger, and tactical advice that you should listen to.

Depending on the amount of time you have needed to complete the mission and the wounds you have suffered, you will be assigned points. The number of enemy casualties that you cause is totally irrelevant. Stealth is the name of the game. You need to quickly and quietly do in your opponents. You can't charge head-first into the enemy camp with pistols blazing. You should be fast and very careful to check the movement patterns/view points of every German soldier or you'll be playing the game over. If you lose a single commando from your team, the game ends. Depending on the accumulated points, you may be promoted. You can't play the last mission unless you've done average or better on all the previous missions.

Manual and cards–There is a manual/CD cover that contains quite a bit of information. There is a plastic card with the details of all six Commandos, Camera View, Camera Selection, Action Keys, and Combat Hot Keys. Another paper page contains an outline of your first mission.

Tutorials–Under the Main Menu you will find the help that you need to quickly become familiar with the game. There are two kinds of tutorials:

  1. Seven Theory Sessions: These are short video lessons in which you get an explanation of the game controls. There is a Theory Session that shows the general concepts of the game and commandos profiles.
  2. Six Training Missions: There are mock missions that work as in the real game, except that they take place in a training camp, allowing you to use a single man in each mission, and your soldier can suffer unlimited damage. You should become familiar with the specific actions of each of your soldiers.

Features & Interface–The interface is intelligent and doesn't get in the way of the game. Hot keys are helpful. There are symbols to the side of the screen that you can click to use, such as the Colt .45 and a Knife. Commandos employs a line-of-sight feature (illustrated by a two-tone green cone), thus a player is actually able to call up an illustration of his enemy's line of sight. The line-of-sight cone is obstructed by obstacles, and accounts for distance. There are six simultaneous cameras to keep an eye on the men. You have nearly limitless reconnaissance data at your disposal; you can scroll all around the map and identify all enemy patrols.

Graphics–There are accurate 3D models of more than 350 structures, vehicles, and weapons from the WWII era. The prerendered 2D maps all look different, beautiful, and realistic, and realistically depict Nazi-occupied regions. Each mission has a different look with such features as: enemy barracks, tanks, electric fences, and river dams. All of the features are done in detail with appropriate sounds and animation for objects. Terrain and vehicles are not only very realistic, but they are also in correct proportion to each other. The environment is fairly interactive. Many buildings and vehicles are explosive and when you have a spare grenade it's lots of fun to take them out.You can chuck a grenade in the midst of a patrol of men and blow down a nearby tent while sending the enemy flying. All of these animations are fun, from German soldiers smoking cigarettes while at their post, to the trucks exploding in tiny little pieces. Frame rates are smooth and the video sequences are well done. An added advantage is that a higher video resolution (800x600 and above) is not required for high quality graphics.

Sound–There is not much music to speak of. Commandos sound great, very authentic, and become immediately distinguishable through their speech, but they are limited to about two or three speech lines each.

Personal Comments–This is a very well designed and creative stealth game. Studying enemy's movements, strategizing, synchronizing troop deployment, and then launching forces in a swift and powerful attack that requires intelligence and resourcefulness should keep a player occupied for many hours and many replays.

Wish List
–Even though the sounds are realistic, there could be more.
A mission builder or a good map editor would be useful.

Other Goodies–Eidos arranged with, Earth's free multiplayer Internet game service, to give a 3-months access to their premium game service Plus.

Operating System: Windows 95/98
Processor: Pentium 120
Memory: 16MB RAM
1MB SVGA graphics card
Soundcard: 16bit
DirectX 5.2
Hard Disk Space: 150MB
The Commandos multiplayer game permits human players to play co-operative missions against the computer controlled Germans. To use this option, each player must have a computer with a copy of the game installed, and their computers must be connected to each other by a Local Area Network (LAN) that supports the TCP/IP protocol. Commandos can also be played with advanced features on the Mplayer Internet Gaming service. Pentium 200MHz processor is recommended, with 32MB of RAM.

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