Friday, June 13, 2008

Oh another shooter on XBLA... The WOTB: Commando 3 Review

Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando 3 is actually the third game in Capcom's Commando series with Mercs as the last game. It definitely lives up to the Commando name of being an old-school style shooter with no story and an excuse to shoot at dudes for a hour. This time around, Commando 3 controls like a twin stick shooter compared to its old-school design to fit in to the modernized era of pick up and play shooters. While this new Xbox Live Arcade game by Capcom may fall into the whole "buy this game for a beta of a bigger game" category with the chance of playing the Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix online beta, Commando 3 is a decent shooter that can be played with multiple people compared to playing it alone. Even though XBLA is filled with twin stick shooters, this one is worth a shot if you're a fan of the genre.

Commando 3 is as old-school as it gets, meaning if you get a game over, you have to start over from the beginning. There are only five levels, which seems short compared to other twin stick shooters on the 360, but it takes about a hour to blast through either alone of with two more players. Three characters are selectable as each of them have their advantages and weaknesses. Wolf is the balanced one of the bunch, Coyote has the highest health, but less speed while Fox carries the most grenades while having the lowest health of the group. Other than that, the three characters control the same and can obtain the same weapons. Among the five stages, it is just mindless shooting for the whole hour it takes to beat it since the story is not really why you want to play something like this. The variety of weapons is also impressive ranging from the normal machine gun, the spread gun, flamethrower, and missile launcher. Each of these weapons are their pros and cons are some are highly recommended in certain sections while some aren't. Secondary weapons are helpful in tense situations as well with grenades and the M-Crash, which is the clear out special attack. The variety of enemies, however, are not much and pretty repetitive with the occasional soldiers, guys with chainguns, turrets, or missiles. The same thing can be said for the bosses as well, which are only three and two of them are pretty much the same. Most of these enemies tend to respawn periodically as they come from both sides of the action meaning you're constantly watching your front and your back at all times. Occasional items like health, M-crash ammo, grenades, medals that increase your score, and an increase of power appear at a constant rate as you progress through these levels. Along with rescuing POWs, combo multipliers, secret areas for more items, and vehicles to drive around killing more dudes, Commando 3 definitely is a typical run and gun shooter that plays it safe.

While it can be played alone, it definitely feels boring and less chaotic compared to playing it with multiple people. Multiplayer is both local and online which is the recommended way to play Commando 3. Online play runs smoothly with minimal lag and usually a game like this requires some teamwork, but so far from my online sessions, voice does not really matter unless you encounter a teammate that is not cooperating. The lives count for online co-op especially are for the whole team rather than individually, so it is best that teamwork matters when trying to stay alive. The four difficulties that the game provides does give it some replay value, but not much especially when people are just going for the achievements. Black Ops and Suicide Mission can provide a decent challenge trying to stay alive (a few hits is all that it takes to lose a life if you're not paying attention), but it is still a relatively easy game to beat either alone or with other people.

Graphically, Commando 3 looks quite generic compared to the better looking twin stick shooters out on Xbox Live Arcade. It does suffer from some technical issues like slowdown when it gets hectic. The framerate will take a slight dip as previously mentioned, but still runs pretty constant. The comic strip style (similarly in Capcom's other twin stick shooter, Rocketmen: Axis of Evil) is okay with the characters fitting to their personas along with their in-game characteristics. The action does get too hectic with three players on the screen and it can be hard to tell at times where the small enemy bullets are coming from because some deaths can be frustrating because of that along with the old school scrolling system of not going back to somewhere in case you missed a health item or a secret area. The game's sound also has some issues especially with multiplayer games are some of the firing sounds might be cut off for other player gun sounds. The music is also minimal and moody pending on the game's environments. There is no voice acting in the comic strip-like cutscenes, which isn't much, and it is probably for the better anyway compared to Rocketmen. Despite some sound problems, the guns sound like guns and explosions sound like explosions, which is expected for a game like this.

Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando 3 doesn't really raise the bar for twin stick shooters, but more of a safe approach for the genre with a generic storyline and characters, decent graphics and sound despite its problems, and pure mindless shooting. The shooting is fun and the length of the game may seem short being a hour to beat the five levels. This is clearly meant to be played with multiple people either locally or online compared to being a boring experience alone. It is also mostly on the easy side even though the harder difficulties can provide a little of a challenge when things get hectic. The three characters are distinctive enough to fit certain play styles. Plus, it comes with the online beta for Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix, which is a good treat for Capcom fans. For 800 Microsoft Points, or ten bucks, Commando 3 is a below average twin stick shooter that is still worth a shot for fans of the genre and previous games even though there are better shooters out on Xbox Live Arcade that are longer and deeper than this one.

Score = 6.5/10

  • Great co-op experience, both locally and online
  • Short and sweet
  • Distinctive characters for different play styles
  • Boring game alone
  • Some slowdown and sound problems
  • Generic story and graphics
  • Perhaps too short compared to other shooters on XBLA
  • Falls into the "buy the game for a beta of a bigger game" category

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