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Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando 3
Score: 73%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Backbone Entertainment
Media: Download/1
Players: 1 - 3
Genre: Action/ Shooter/ Online

Graphics & Sound:
The biggest difference between Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando 3 and its nearly twenty year old prequels are the visuals. Polygons and pixels aside, Commando 3 takes a much more cartoon-inspired approach than its predecessors, which aimed for a more realistic look (well... as realistic as a couple dozen colors and pixels could muster). The end result is actually quite appealing and one of the core reasons I kept playing.

Each of the levels has its own distinct look that stands out and offers a good visual cue about the "story" the level is trying to tell. For instance, the first level begins with a beach assault that slowly moves from defensive beachheads into the main base. The same goes for latter levels, which see your characters busting out of a heavily fortified prison, trudging through swamps and finally assaulting a very Kremlin-looking base.

Your trip through these locales is accompanied by a decent musical score and sound effects. Whether intentional or not, the background music has an 80's hair band feel that - at least for me - kind of helped tie the sequel in with the original games. My only real complaint was the lack of any sort of wink back to the theme from the original Commando that, for whatever reason, still sticks out in my head nearly 25 years later.

Unlike Capcom's upcoming update of 1942, Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando 3 is a sequel to the original two games from the 80's. The gameplay has been updated, making it a dual-stick shooter similar to Rocketmen: Axis of Evil or Smash TV, though the entire point of the game is to blast your way through a linear level filled with several look-a-like enemies.

Rather than focusing on one protagonist, Commando 3 gives you three characters to tear through endless streams of enemy troops with. Wolf, who resembles the hero from the first game (though without a hat) is the leader and your basic "well-balanced" character. Coyote, on the other hand, is the heavy-hitting tank character who, were it not for a beard and sunglasses, could easily pass for Rambo. Finally there's Fox, the group's lone female who can carry more grenades and move faster, but can't take many hits.

Although most of your time is spent wading through packs of enemies, you'll eventually run across buildings that spawn enemies at a rate that would make most rats blush. The first time you come across any of these threats is when you really get a feel for how intense gameplay can get. These sections are where the gameplay is its most enjoyable, yet they happen infrequently. Easily running up large body counts is fun, but once you've taken out a few jeeps, guard towers and tanks, a handful of grunts feels tame.

Then there's the lack of end-level bosses. Most levels end with your character running to a clearly labeled exit with very little resistance, and the two or three levels that end with a boss share the same pattern-prone tank that isn't very challenging once you find the "safe spot" in the room.

The overall experience is fun, but incredibly short. Levels are just the right length; they never feel overly long or too short. However, with only five levels, the entire experience doesn't last more than an hour on the default difficulty level. You can ratchet up the difficulty for more of a challenge, but even then, the gameplay is still forgiving, so anyone who is moderately competent at shooters shouldn't have too much of a problem. You can bring up to two friends along, though extra guns tend to shorten the total play time (though with the happy upgrade in overall fun).

In an attempt to "balance" out the gameplay, Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando 3 offers an odd continue system that only kicks in once you complete the game once. It's an interesting design choice that offers a sense of mortality as you work your way through each level, but it doesn't make much sense unless you plan on playing through the game multiple times and have a tough time with the harder difficulties. This will probably work for more casual players who work their way up through difficulty levels, though it feels like a bit of a punishment for more advanced players. There's nothing more frustrating than getting within a few steps of the end of the last level with a sliver of life only to die and have to start from the beginning. A better compromise would have been something similar to the 360 shooter Omega Five that rewards you with extra continues based on play time.

Game Mechanics:
Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando 3 is, again, a dual-stick shooter. The controls are pretty tight and not all that complicated (just point the stick in a direction and watch the bullets fly), so even the clumsiest of players shouldn't have too much trouble wrapping their heads around the concept. Pulling the right shoulder button lobs a grenade a short distance while the left unleashes your character's screen-clearing "M-Crash" ability.

Along the way, you'll also come across one of four different weapon types that give you a little more enemy-clearing power. You'll also run into controllable vehicles like tanks and jeeps that add an incredibly fun element to the game. Although the on-foot and driving sequences use the same control scheme, the vehicle sequences feel a little too loose, so you have to try a little harder to make sure you're going in the right direction. On the plus side, it takes a lot to destroy vehicles and running over enemies is just as good as shooting them, so a little reckless driving only hurts them and doesn't dampen your fun.

Outside a few minor flaws, the biggest issue facing Commando 3 is its length; the game is over before you know it and outside the rare play through with a friend, there isn't that much to keep you coming back for more. However, considering the lack of similar shooters on the PS3 (at least when compared to the 360, which is loaded with them) there isn't much in the way of competition - especially when it comes to multiplayer action - making Commando 3 your best bet.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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