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Commandos Strike Force
Score: 77%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Eidos Interactive
Developer: Pyro Studios
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 8 Online
Genre: First Person Shooter/ Action/ Simulation

Graphics & Sound:
Commandos: Strike Force may not push the graphical limits of the PS2, but it does provide enough texture, color and shading to successfully create mood. Like so many World War II simulations before it, CSF relies upon a bleak, almost washed-out appearance to portray the ambience of the depressing event that itís based on. The environments themselves are detailed, especially the interiors which are spiced up with realistic shadows, dripping water pipes, and walls of cracked brick.

The sounds, while not nearly cause for complaint, are nothing we havenít experienced before, particularly within the FPS genre. Gun fire is crisp and accurately echoed in tight confines; voice-over work is adequate as well, adding up to a genuine sense of personality among the three playable characters especially. The background music clearly understands its role as background, while building up to an occasional crescendo that effectively instills a feeling of tension.


Gameplay:
Commandos: Strike Force is the latest incarnation in a near ten year legacy of Commandos titles. While its predecessors played closer to a Real Time Strategy title laced with tactical elements, Strike Force has morphed some of the seriesí original concepts into a First Person Shooter of the ever-popular World War II setting.

Whereas past Commandos entries thrust the player into commanding decent sized squads of troops into Nazi compound conquest, Strike Force offers up only three soldiers in your control: A Green Beret, a spy, and a sniper.

Each character brings an entirely separate dimension to the FPS formula and their unique traits are required to overcome the various challenges of the missions. The real key to success is recognizing the strengths of each character and the slight overlap in abilities between them.

While the Green Beret is perhaps the most standardized of the playable characters, the spy and sniper do serve up some fresh aspects to the FPS genre. When it comes to intense fire fights, touting twin side-arms, and lofting grenades to clear out an enemy stronghold, the Green Beret is the only option. However, the wise-cracking sniper Lieutenant brings more than just long range shooting to the table, having the ability to throw knives with deadly accuracy, makes him the choice for silent attack. Lastly, the spy takes the role of stealth-ing to a new level through the ability to change his disguise quicker than Chevy Chase in Fletch. Collecting Nazi uniforms allows the spy to infiltrate enemy territory. The higher rank the uniform, the more likely the disguise is to be a success. Passing an enemy soldier of equal or lower rank is fairly common, but the higher-ranking officers strip through the ruse almost every time.

The gameís dynamic approach of squad commanding is perhaps its greatest strength and separates it from a majority of the World War II FPS titles available.


Difficulty:
The gameís difficulty is essentially derived from understanding the subtleties of the proper character choice in a given situation. The player has the ability to toggle between the three characters on the fly, so understanding their strengths and weaknesses is a lesson best learned quickly. Solutions aren't always obvious either; fortunately the game allows saves whenever, so trial and error usually prevails in new situations.

Commandos: Strike Force is challenging, but not overly difficult or frustrating. Fans of First Person Shooters will have little trouble jumping into the Commandos: Strike Force formula.


Game Mechanics:
Like the PC version, the consoles offer a decent online multiplayer mode where 8 players can simultaneously share the action.

Some may find the lack of consistency in the missions to be a bit excessive even in the name of variety. Often times, the gameís entire pace shifts wildly from levels of well-paced action to complicated battle sequences in which the objectives arenít entirely clear. However, in time, the game becomes more focused and, as a result, far more enjoyable. Die-hard fans of the Commandos series may be initially disappointed in the gameís toned down approach in regard to detail and strategic complexity, but the video game market is one that thrives on trends. Eidos clearly realizes that the getting is still good in the very crowded FPS market, especially where the World War II element is concerned. While this marketing strategy may attract its fair share of adopters, it is equally possible that in a field of such strong entrants, Commandos: Strike Force may go unnoticed.


-Jay G. Money, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jason Giacchino

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