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Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines (Windows)

82
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.9
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Ray Soderlund (3497)
Written on  :  Mar 31, 2000
Rating  :  2.75 Stars2.75 Stars2.75 Stars2.75 Stars2.75 Stars

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Summary

Don't be fooled...this is a puzzle game, not a war game.

The Good

The graphics are simply beautiful. Little details, such as soldiers leaving footprints in the snow, add quite a bit to the experience, and the static detail, everything from the wrinkles in the tree bark to the lapping shallows of the rivers is incredible. This game probably marked a high point for graphics in a 2-D isometric world.

The sound is also good, giving you both a nice ambience while also providing you with audible cues that make sneaking around a whole lot easier.

I like the base concept. Your team, made up of nationals from the major Allied countries, comes effectively across like Eidos wanted: The Dirty Half-Dozen. Glorified up like your typical classic WW2, they nonetheless appear to be what they claim to be. I do like the idea of dragging bodies into the shadows (done better in Eidos' later game Thief) and other small features.

The Bad

Despite what you may read on the box or hear in some ethusiastic reviews, this is NOT an action game like Cannon Fodder or Commando. Nor is it a true strategic war game like X-Com or (the lesser quality, but ultimately more enjoyable for fans of the genre) Soliders of War. It's not even a combination like the old Airborne Ranger game from Microprose.

This is, without a doubt, a puzzle game.

Winning any particular mission is often less a matter of tactical brilliance as it is figuring out what the level designers wanted you to do to succeed. Sometimes there's multiple possible solutions, but there's usually only one or two right ways. Deviate too much and you're lost. It's a shame that so many designers feel the need to go this route. One can argue that nearly all games have 'puzzles' of sorts, but Commandos takes this to the extreme.

What's worse is that, adding to the puzzle mentality, is that your team members are HIGHLY specialized. Only one can drive a vehicle and (get this) only one can carry things! This means you have to have the right member in the right position at the right time. There's little in the way of contingency plans and while you can continue playing with one member dead, you may find latter missions impossible without that specialized grunt. It's this very strict puzzle-game mentality that turned this game around from something that should've been very fun to something annoying for me.

The Bottom Line

A WW2 small unit game that, unfortunately, emphasizes puzzles over actual tactics and dynamic play. While pretty in both sights and sounds, you will often find yourself replaying missions just to find out 'how to do it right,' which can get quite frustrating.