Three steps forward
| The Concept of War
It is well known that WWII was one of the most gloomy things that engulfed our history of mankind, and no matter the technical advantage we gained during its dark period, it is not something we look upon with anything but a dark glance. However, the impact it had on games and movies is rather well crafted and has given us endless hours of entertainment. Bottomline, if this would've been an imaginary war (like Command & Conquer for example), it would be a tough one to compete with, and quite rich for any upcoming sequels. This game, however, enhances all the points of its predecessor and leads you through entire era of war, spanning about twelve missions through which you take control over new as well as some already familiar commando faces.
| Boosting Up the Atmo
The major thing that was missing in the original "Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines" game was the atmosphere. Graphic was top-notch, controls are easy to master, and sound was no worse than in old WWII movies. But the thing to boost up the atmosphere always sums up to one thing only - the music. "Commandos 2: Men of Courage" not only has it, but it's made to such an incredible extent it's healing the sore ears just by listening to it. It is action-paced to some extent, but vary from typical battle songs to oriental tracks, and to a few amazing tracks with vocals. Take GAP (Game Audio Player) and extract the tracks, that'll at least compensate for the lack of soundtrack on the market. Pyro Studios may be just thinking how they added soundtrack because they lacked the one in the original, but we players know better than that, they did much more with it. Not even the one in "Commandos 3: Destination Berlin" beats this one.
| Surreal Technical Improvements
One may easily get confused starting this game, even if expert in the prequels (me, duh) because they added a whole ton of new stuff to try. Not only have they added new characters to control, each with dozens of actions to employ, but they literally made a game that lets you use what you like but you can pass it by using very same thing over and over (*koff* knife *koff*). Of course, I was already lost in the tutorials and almost gave up on the entire thing, but once I got a hang of it, it's doable with very little effort. You just need to be aware that you can shift map, shoot through the windows, peek inside the buildings and rotate the screen whenever in interiors. It may take time to adjust, but once you do, it'll be quite easy to adjust to third installment of the series.
| A Touch of Details
The opening starts with a great music track and a real video footage from WWII. Okay, I figured the game will have occasional WWII videos in between certain missions like the original game did, but no, I was surprised immensely. In between every single mission there was pre-rendered cinematic. And I'm speaking of such an amazing quality level it could compete with Blizzard and SquareSoft. Of course, the better quality you achieve, the shorter the cinematics are. But even still, they're amazing. Note that many other things have been added to witness the level of details has truly increased. One of those things is ability to go underwater (once you do, you'll know what I'm talking about). Other would be the ability to finally be in real battles taking place. Allied soldiers versus German Wehrmacht infantry and commandos shooting across the town and such missions will be seen. And with such a showdown, who would ever hear you shooting a few bullets here and there. Okay, that and the ability to control other allied soldiers moves this game closer towards RTS genre. The ability to strip enemy soldier of everything he has (well, you can't take his underwear though, but it's not something you could use in a mission anyway, so it's no great loss), however, moves this games more towards RPG genre. Well, it's all hypothetically, it's not like you're upgrading your characters stamina, health or what not, but you can supply him/her with the weapon required (enemy rifles are good thing to go with), which is a good thing as long as your character known how to use it, of course.
| Oh My Bugs
Well, it clearly says "Windows 95/98/ME/XP (Home Edition)" on the back of my game cover, but somehow I'm skeptic that just because I was playing this game of XP Pro instead of Home Edition, this game wouldn't run as it should. Technically, and most annoyingly, the game just bumped me out on to desktop. The weird thing is, it happened only (read that as whenever) after I've done some really good thing in the game (i.e. managed to kill five soldiers with a knife in split second, and then used med pack). Also, another thing that needed adjustment is menu screen. It runs in 640x480 whereas you can play game in 640x480, 800x600, and 1024x768 resolutions. Naturally, I was playing the game in the latter, but each time I wanted to (quick)save or something (you must go to main menu for that), the screen flickered as it went from one resolution to another. Of course, in lower that wasn't the issue, but they should've make menu work in higher resolutions just as well, even if it would become smaller, I mean, this is especially an issue if you depend on the menu so much.
The Bottom Line
| Second Had to Be Improved
Well, they flawed with original for lacking the music, so this second installment in the series has some serious backup to test on the field, and missions were taken to extreme level of details (if you thought original game was detailed, wait 'til you see this one). It is like a well followed WWII movie, varying in missions from western to eastern front, giving you nothing but new stuff from what you've seen in the original. There aren't many games of this genre and style, but from those there are, I can see why this one should take the upper edge. But still, in all the rush to create a masterpiece and move it to console market as well, they missed a few bugs here and there that may get on your nerve. But technically, this is a marvel that all fans of original "Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines" should get, if only to tune themselves into the hard-boiled third installment with action action action.