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Commandos: Ammo Pack

aka: Commandos Box 1, Commandos: Director's Cut, PC Twinpack: Commandos I & II
Moby ID: 3030

Critic Reviews add missing review

Average score: 84% (based on 2 ratings)

Player Reviews

Average score: 4.3 out of 5 (based on 6 ratings with 1 reviews)

A new opening from the strategy genre

The Good
Original Game - underrated for a wrong reason
First of all, I was always a fan of WWII based strategy games from as far as I know it. That's why Panzer General has awaken the strategy genre in me. The whole set of allied, german, brittish, soviet and other units were making it constantly interesting, while those circled animations were making the game had some touch of creativity and since I like animations, it was never to be bored. Plus the game had amazing music along the side. Then first Red Alert showed up. Man, I wanted to see some WWII RTS game, but instead Westwood redefined the whole course of history making it unique and just as interesting as you got the feelings of WWII only with two different sides while playing. They later tried to make good and interesting WWII strategy games, but they just weren't right enough. That was, until Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines was made.

Wolfenstein 3d made me opening to the 1st-person set, and "Panzer General" to strategy game set, and if we reduce unit count, and make 1st-person intro 3rd, we get "Commandos" :) A brilliant graphic for 1998, with ability to zoom in and out, split screen into up to six different sub-screens, check eye-sight of enemy soldiers and vehicles, use camera modes, handle all kinda weapons and military sets, and control six different yet unique soldiers.

Now, I hear many say this game is more puzzle then strategy and action. Well, trust me, I lived under same thoughts... until I finished the whole game. The fact that I passed last couple of missions (and they were undoubtedly the toughest in the game) in a single day just proved me that I discovered a tactic of how to get rid of puzzle over action precedence. The thing is, they didn't just placed so many barracks with soldiers in them to sit there forever. The thing is to lure them all out. You can just as easily wipe out the entire garrison with only two or three men of yours. So yeah, this can be a highly puzzle game, but once you start shooting from some cover, you see how it's actually rather easy to shoot bunch of foes without much troubling.

The whole game is split into parts of WWII making you start in 1939 and progressing all the way 'til 1945. Between campaigns, there will be animations which are nothing less then movies taken from the real World War II, showing you the situation over occupied France, progress of Hitler's Wehrmacht troops across the Europe, or activities of a Desert Fox in Africa, thus giving you more or less the background story for those who are totally unfamiliar with the events of that war. Before each mission, you'll be briefed over your goals, and you'll even see some 3D-rendered shots in the briefing... comes to think if they could make such a nice pre-rendered pictures, what prevented them from making a small animations as well.

Before playing games, you can see the video training trailers or play some training missions to get more familiar with the abilities of your men. Just to name some of them in general, you can control commando, which can camouflage by digging in the sand or snow, climb walls, use his knife for silent mode, or use decoy as a bait. Your sniper is only having a berreta gun and a sniper rifle which is more then effective, but the bullets are highly limited. Your spy can use poison for silent kills, or steal nazi uniforms and distract soldiers, and also, like a commando, carry killed soldiers away from the eye-sight of another patrol. Your driver can use mounted machine-guns and turrets, as well as driving nazi vehicles and even tanks and shooting from them.

The game controls are very easy to use, and once you get experienced, for quicker actions you'll probably use some key controls as well. The resolution of the game can be 640x480, 800x600 or even 1024x768 with obvious enhancement in the level of details and map size. All in one, the game has pretty much great stuff... until we come for lacking materials...

Add-on - ss original as the original, with a few hits aside
By far, "Commandos: BEL" was the first game of this genre that was made up to being real-time. Well, if there were any before, they weren't as good to be memorable, though. And I don't count great games like "UFO" or "X-COM" 'cos they were turn-based and not too close lined with this, except in genre. This add-on, should not even be called an add-on, simply 'cos you don't need original "Commandos" game CD, only this one, but the general idea, and the size of the game could be considered as an add-on or mission disc that filled the mission gaps that we wanted to see in the original so badly.

I usually don't practice training with this kinda games, but I've tried it just to see what's it all about. Man, they sure made it great. They clearly demonstrated all the updates they added to this game. It's no more just "Commandos" with some extra missions, now you get whole new gear, abilities your soldiers have learned, now they had the engine and all the coding already made up, so they could focus their minds into giving us more then just more of the same.

As the game starts, you'll notice a music. Not much, but when it starts, it's sure called a music, comparing to that drum-beat we barely hear and was the only music in the original. This add-on has nice army oriented kind of music themes, while you're playing, in between mission briefings, as the score theme, everything, no more 'just sound' thingy. Also, voices of your soldiers have changed, so player wouldn't be too annoyed when meeting the same ones from the original installment.

The game gives only 8 missions, which is better then nice. I mean, going through another 20 would be a real pain in the a$$, and they made some very nice changes in this game. They added waves thundering and crushing on a rocky coast, flying birds and running animals, more of animated objects like windmills and such, and very detaily-designed missions. As we all know the original was way too tough on some levels, so they added EASY and HARD mode of playing which basically consists of more or less enemy soldiers on the map.

Let's start arraying your soldiers' new abilities now, shall we? :) Okay, first, all the guarding soldiers that don't patrol in groups, and can be seen smoking are having a package of cigarettes which can be taken from them when they're killed or just unconscious. You can also use cigarette packs to distract soldiers, like throwing the pack in their range of sight and they'll come to pick it up if interested enough. And yeah, this time you can make enemy soldier unconscious, but only if you hit him from behind. Depending on your soldier, you can use fist (commando), bat (driver), or chloroform (spy). Also, you can cuff them when they're unconscious, and make them obey you as long as they're withing your eye sight and you're aiming at them. Also, you can take uniform of any cuffed enemy soldier with your spies, only this time, some foes can see your deception so you should walk carefully.

Nice addition is that when soldiers hear shooting or alarm, they will climb down the stairs to check it out, and not just staying up because there is no animation made for german soldier climbing. Like I said, with everything made, developers could easily give more attention to details and polishing the code :)

There are many itchy-bitchy things that were added to the game, like throwing rocks for a diversion, or adding another character to the game. Yeah, there is a female character in the game, but I controlled it for about 5 or less minutes, so don't hope too much. That good looking belgian gal from the box cover will only appear in the last mission, and you won't do much controlling of her, especially if you clear all the city of Gestapo police and Wehrmacht soldiers.

The Bad
Original Game
Yup, there is something to be said under this section for sure. Okay, I never liked when level of toughness can be chosen (easy, medium, hard, etc.), because I tend to play the games only once, unless they give multiple endings and story plots. However, some of the levels here may be considered really hard, and frankly, I dunno why did they use HARD levels to prolong playability, when that particular thing just drove away so many players from this game. I know, there are only 20 levels, but hey, they are all great and interesting, being hard won't do anything up beside making us jumpy and nervous while playing and being constantly discovered and/or killed.

Another big mistake is the lack of music. I mean, we're in 1998, okay we were in that year, but hey, how can the new game come out in the market without having any music? Even that main menu theme was barely noticeable. However, I salute as how great music they used and how they improved this part in add-on, though :)

Bottomline, it's nothing new, yet everything is. Strange to explain, but this is like being the same, only with some enhancements, and there is no continuation, just new missions, also ranging between 1939-1945 like in the original. Guess they lacked some key missions so they could use it here. Still, this is a jolly good for second-hand product. By that I don't mean second rated, lol, no, I was just referring to something which is add-on and not original. Great game, and like its prequel, the only game (beside "PG") that showed World War II very nicely and detailed with all the action aside.

The Bottom Line
Original Game
All in one, fine strategy game with somewhat peculiar level of puzzles and riddles, but interesting nonetheless. Levels are nicely designed, and graphic only should keep you centered on the game enough, I mean, U-boats, vehicles, bridges, buildings, battlecruisers, water, fortresses, backgrounds, footprints in the sand/snow, those little detailed thingy should keep you focused for some time. Okay, music lacks bigtime, but there are many sound-effects and chit-chatting so you won't be alone. It's a good strategy game for those who have patience, and are not rushing to finish the game in just a couple of days.

And when you think of how some levels are impassable, just think of those poor playtesters who had to pass all those levels who knows how many times. Man, they sure weren't enjoying after 100th time, doncha agree with me? :)

Game levels will keep you intrigued, that's for sure, but if you honestly finished the original game like I did, and realized every level can be passed simply by shootout, then you'll be able to finish this add-on in no time. However, some missions do not allow the sound of alarm, so those may take a bit more time, though.

Game is also filled with many real World War II scenes and movies and they picked some even more interesting this time. Well, as much as this war was true, and as much as I dislike what it represents, I cannot say wars in general do not interest me. Quite the opposite, why else would I launch myself into furious wars or "Command & Conquer", "Dune", or "WarCraft"? At least we see something to test our strategy skills from those perspectives, and we're not able to torture any enemies, 'cos there's only one simple rule, as always - surrender is not an option! :)

Now, this game proved that sequels can be good and interesting, and as much as it would be more logical that you would need original game to play this one, you don't. Guess that makes it rather unique, no? I look forward to Commandos 2, even though I doubt they could improve much things (of course, by now I realize how wrong I was on this sentence). What would really be interesting is if they gave us the opportunity to play for central forces in the sequel. I remember I enjoyed "Panzer General" much more then any WWII strategy I remember ;))

Windows · by MAT (241150) · 2012

Contributors to this Entry

Critic reviews added by Wizo, Patrick Bregger.