Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines

aka: Commandos: Além das Linhas Inimigas, Commandos: Derrière les lignes ennemies, Commandos: Dietro le linee nemiche, Commandos: Hinter feindlichen Linien
Moby ID: 976
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Description official descriptions

The setting is World War II, and England has made and trained a small group of special elite forces called "commandos". These commandos are specially trained to take on the most crucial and risky missions. These men are sent in to covertly take out installations, sabotage plans, assassinate leaders, and cause as much disruption to the enemies of the free world.

Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines is essentially a puzzle game at heart. The goal is to lead a team of six men throughout 20 missions across the entire WWII theater, with missions in the North African desert, Italy, France, and even in Norway. Strategy is a key element, as the team is vastly outnumbered in most missions, and stealth a main aspect of the gameplay, stealth kills being usually preferable over going in guns blazing. Missions get much harder once the alarm is sounded, with double the amount of guards and reinforcements possibly coming for every enemy killed in the open.

Every mission comes with specific (and usually multiple) objectives to disrupt enemy activity. These may range from destroying trains, battleships, and structures, to rescuing captured GI's. The commandos team includes six highly trained operatives: Tiny, the heavy-duty trained killer; Duke, the silent sniper; Inferno, the demolitions and mechanical expert; Spooky, the spy; Fins, the navy diver; and Tread, the surly driver. Each mission only provides with the soldiers required to complete it. Some missions may require all six characters while others will only use two of them.

Each man is essential to each mission, and if one dies, the mission must be loaded to an earlier point. Each performs a specific duty that is required to make the plan go off without a hitch. For example, the driver is necessary in order to drive the escape truck in most missions. The diver might be needed as a specific travel method to reach an island. The demolitions expert might be needed to cut a hole through a fence. Only through teamwork and careful planning can the missions be beaten.

During the missions, the player will also have some tools at their disposal that provide extra info and tips. The eye tool allows for example to see the field of vision of the selected enemy. Every mission also comes with a fully animated map indicating the positions of the enemies. It is also possible to split the screen up to eight times, and use the camera tool to follow the path of specific soldiers in every screen.

Commandos is an open game with no linear progression. There are no scripted events, and all soldiers act according to their AI. There is no true way to beat each mission, though some paths might be more difficult than others. Only by utilizing all of the soldiers' abilities and available resources will the player be able to complete each mission and have everyone return home alive.

Spellings

  • קומנדו: מאחורי קווי האויב - Hebrew spelling
  • 盟军敢死队:深入敌后 - Simplified Chinese spelling

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Credits (Windows version)

70 People (58 developers, 12 thanks) · View all

Project Leader
Lead Design
Co-Design
Lead Artist
Lead Programming
Software Design
Video, Effect and AI Programming
Mission and AI Programming
3D Support and Multiplayer Programming
Engine Programming
Mission & Tools Programming
Artists
Interface Programming & Allies
External Design
Lead Mission Design
Mission Design
Additional Graphics
[ full credits ]

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 83% (based on 32 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.9 out of 5 (based on 88 ratings with 3 reviews)

Not for everyone.

The Good
High production values, good graphics and varied missions.

The Bad
It isn't just that the game is difficult, it's that the gameplay just isn't fun, it's tedious. Memorizing patrol patterns, moving with precise timing, executing procedures with precise timing. "Hey" you say, "That's the life of a Commando" Okay, but this is a game and it's about gameplay. Move one pixel to far? Dead. Reload. Click on that guard to shoot him and miss by one pixel? Your commando will HOLSTER his weapon and WALK towards the guard. Dead. Reload. Don't see all overlapping patrol patterns? Dead. Reload. Rinse and repeat... hundreds of times. The missions can be broken down into areas, and then steps to complete areas. I fell into a pattern of saving after EVERY minute move. Keep getting discovered or killed until I learned the process to complete the step then repeat it until I had the perfect execution to complete it. The feeling afterward is not one of accomplishment but of relief! You stop and start so much there's no flow. No feeling of being a commando on a mission. Games are supposed to be fun right? This was no fun.

The Bottom Line
As others have said, it's a puzzle game in a war game setting. This game is for the people who like those arcade games with a maze and patrolling robots and laser turrets and you need to move boxes to get through the maze with perfect timing. If you like memorizing patrol patterns, and don't mind pixel perfect execution, and saving and loading hundreds of times then this is the game for you. I, on the other hand, had zero fun.

Windows · by beavercleaver (6) · 2016

Awkward puzzle exercise that thinks it's some innovative tactical squad-based game.

The Good
Love the graphics, they are extremely detailed pre-rendered sprites viewed from an isometric perspective, but the detail is awesome! You have plenty of resolution settings as well as the option to split the screen in different views (to keep an eye on each of your commandos) as well as a surprisingly good zoom option which manages to keep most of the detail intact even if it does start to blow sprites up into little pixellated horrors. Still everything has an impressive level of detail and the levels are lovingly designed, varied in their design and truly interesting to explore, populated by a wide array of enemies and vehicles and giving a very war-movie like feel to it all, kind of like a serious Metal Slug (if you can look past the enormeous gameplay differences).

The interface and production values are dead-on for the game, and you have a very simple WWII-themed, mouse-driven interface with full hot-key support (a must, since the game is in real-time). You can easily pinpoint the line-of-sight of enemy guards and you can go prone or standing depending on the situation. Sound effects are scarse but solid and the game has some really spiffy cutscenes which make use of archival WW2 footage given new meaning by the use of voiceovers and other tricks. The characters are very well designed and have enough charisma to make you... uh... "not hate them" throughout the course of the god-forsaken game, well, all except for the stupid sniper and it's goddamned accent...!

The Bad
The one real big problem with Commandos is that it's got some weird personality disorder. This is a multiple-character puzzle game in the same vein as The Lost Vikings or Fury of the Furries only played from an isometric perspective and not some sort of innovative real-time tactical squad-game or strategy hybrid. Sure, the game does incorporate some elemenents from those genres, but the game it's an exercise in puzzle-solving first and foremost with the main challenges being figuring out how to sneak past the nazi guards and complete your objectives, be it blow some shit up, rescue someone, kill some nazi officer or some other thing. As with most puzzle games the result when things go right is a real ego boost, as Hannibal used to say: "I love it when a plan comes together"... Yeah, it sure feels good to see everything working efficiently and as you planned it, but just as on most puzzle games, you can get seriously cock-locked whenever you fail to figure out just what the hell the designers wanted you to do E-X-A-C-T-L-Y, and while that alone is a frustrating obstacle that reduces the gameplay enjoyment, when you couple it with the elements borrowed from other genres you get frustration central, and one of the most obnoxious try-die-reload games ever conceived.

The premise calls for you to use the skills of 6 different soldiers accordingly, but they are far from being "special" forces of any kind. Outside of their particular specialty they are all pretty much vanilla, and the incredible level of specialization means that gameplay usually reduces to getting the requisite character for whatever lies ahead and solving things on your own while you leave the pack behind, and then when you get stuck and need someone else's skills, just replace your "lead" character and continue. This aspect of gameplay is emphasized by the particular disposition the commandos have to just forget about the war whenever they are not selected. Many, many times one of your characters will get killed just because you were doing something elsewhere, and that is because the commandos have no AI whatsoever and just sit back and relax whenever they get discovered and start eating lead, or stand perfectly still as a vehicle drives over them... A byproduct of puzzle gaming? Maybe, but how the hell is one supposed to get tabs on all characters in a real-time game of this type? I can only imagine the hell it would have been if X-com's tactical parts had been real-time instead of turn based...wait, no, I don't have to imagine them, I have Commandos to illustrate it for me!! You can only move, change stance and shoot (with the crappy pistols) whenever you have more than one commando selected, and they do not continue to fire or anything unless you keep clicking that mouse button.. yay! Plus, the game goes for a "realistic" damage model, meaning that one or two shots and you are out... I still can't understand it... If the designers didn't bother to give us decent party management options why didn't they just use a lone commando with all the skills on him? Why force the player to manage six useless characters when only one can be used effectively at a time and the game design forces you into rigid, pre-set puzzle sequences??? Is it to get a bite out of the tactical squad-based market?? Even if there is zero tactical elements to speak of and you have even less control of your squad members???

The Bottom Line
The truth is that Commandos tries, but the focuss on a tactical squad-based style doesn't work within a game that's essentially a real-time puzzle solver that requires more timing and multiple reloads to get things right instead of a strategic approach.

If Commandos had ditched the real-time element and added more realistic tactical components (such as line-of-fire and range calculations), AI for your characters and got rid of some stupid puzzle elements (only six fucking bullets for the sniper?? Are the allied spec ops on a budget??) then it would have been an interesting WW2-themed squad-based tactical game. On the other hand, if Commandos wanted to be really good at what it is, then it should have ditched the multiple character angle and used a lone Commando to get things done, maybe add some npcs to spice things up a bit... As it is now Commandos does neither and is one big puzzle-tactical mess that doesn't please anyone except those with far too much time on their hands and the patience to endure one of the most awkwardly designed puzzle games ever.

Windows · by Zovni (10503) · 2003

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.

Windows · by Ray Soderlund (3501) · 2000

Trivia

Budget

Commandos was the first game of the Spanish developer Pyro Studios and, with a cost of 900.000€, was the most expensive game in the history of Spanish videogame until this time.

German index

On June 30, 1999, the English version of Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines was put on the infamous German index by the BPjS. For more information about what this means and to see a list of games sharing the same fate, take a look here: BPjS/BPjM indexed games.

In addition to the indexing, on June 24, 1999, the English version of Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines was also confiscated for violating §86a of Germany's penal code (for using characteristics of unconstitutional organizations).

German version

The Germans got a heavily cut version, excluding Nazi symbols, blood and corpses (dead soldiers became little gravestones)

Sales

Commandos sold over 1,000,000 units, most of them in Europe, and again most of those in Germany.

In 1999, Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines won both the Gold- and Platinum-Awards from the German VUD (Verband der Unterhaltungssoftware Deutschland - Entertainment Software Association Germany) for selling more then 100,000 units (Gold) and more then 200,000 units (Platinum) in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. As the Gold-Award is not counted into the Platinum-Award, both awards total in between 300,000 and 700,000 units sold.

Awards

  • GameStar (Germany)
    • Issue 12/1999 - #43 in the "100 Most Important PC Games of the Nineties" ranking
  • PC Player (Germany)
    • Issue 01/1999 - Best Real-Time Strategy Game in 1998
  • Verband der Unterhaltungssoftware Deutschland
    • 1999 - Gold and Platinum Award (more information can be found under the "Sales" category)

Information also contributed by Dark Dante, phlux and Xoleras

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Related Games

Commandos 3: Destination Berlin
Released 2003 on Windows
Commandos: Collection
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Commandos: Complete
Released 2009 on Windows
Commandos: Battle Pack
Released 2005 on Macintosh, 2009 on Windows
Commandos: Ammo Pack
Released 2000 on Windows
Commandos: Antologija
Released 2011 on Windows
Commandos 2: Men of Courage
Released 2001 on Windows, 2002 on PlayStation 2, Xbox
Commandos: Beyond the Call of Duty
Released 1999 on Windows
Commandos: Strike Force
Released 2006 on Windows, PlayStation 2, Xbox

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by MAT.

Additional contributors: -Chris, chirinea, Sciere, Crawly, CaesarZX, Patrick Bregger, Victor Vance, Robert Holloway.

Game added March 5, 2000. Last modified January 25, 2024.