It can be a difficult game, especially at first, but Commandos 2 truly evokes the intensity of World War II that you've probably seen in film or on television.
The direct approach isn't always the best approach--this concept lies at the heart of Commandos 2 just as it did with its predecessor, the innovative 1998 real-time tactical combat game that mixed elements of stealth, action, and even puzzle-solving in a World War II setting. Spanish developer Pyro Studios' visually stunning sequel takes the core gameplay of the original, adds some of the features from the 1999 stand-alone expansion pack along with plenty of great new ideas, and ultimately provides a highly challenging, sophisticated experience that's even better than the first. But be warned--Commandos 2 can be as intimidating as its premise makes it sound: You'll command a small group of elite Allied operatives deep behind enemy lines to perform a series of important clandestine missions. At every turn, your commandos will be avoiding the patrols of German or Japanese forces. It can be a difficult game, especially at first, but Commandos 2 truly evokes the intensity of the harrowing depictions of World War II that you've probably seen in film or on television.
Actually, the game clearly alludes to the movies that inspired it--even the manual admits that the game has more in common with fictional accounts of the war than with factual ones. If you're familiar with classic World War II movies such as The Guns of Navarone, Bridge on the River Kwai, or even the more recent Saving Private Ryan, then you'll easily catch the references to these films in the game's various missions. As in these and other epic World War II movies, in Commandos 2 you'll have to do such things as rescue Allied soldiers, sabotage powerful sea vessels, assassinate key enemy officials, get your hands on important documents, and much more. The objectives are plentiful and varied and the game will take you to a wide variety of real-world settings, but the overall number of missions in Commandos 2 seems small: There are only 10 main missions in the game. You must play through them all sequentially, even though they aren't necessarily related to one another. In fact, the relative length and difficulty of each mission doesn't necessarily increase from one mission to the next, either.
Make no mistake, though--by any standards, all these missions are huge, and you'll typically spend many hours trying to accomplish the laundry list of objectives in each one. There's also good incentive to replay each mission, since a number of smaller bonus levels can be unlocked if you thoroughly explore the main missions. And the game's two higher difficulty settings noticeably affect the way enemy guards react, requiring you to take different paths to success. But before you can get into the main missions, you must first get through two "tutorial" levels, which have to be the most difficult tutorials ever put into a game. These smaller missions provide very little actual tutorial--instead, they take a sink-or-swim approach by dropping you straight into enemy territory, leaving you to learn the hard way about the intricacies of the complex gameplay of Commandos 2. This can make the first hours of play unnecessarily frustrating, so much so that some players may be quickly turned off to the game. That's too bad, because Commandos 2 is well worth the effort it takes to learn.
The colorful, memorable cast of characters at your disposal comes mostly from the previous Commandos games and includes a powerful Green Beret; a deadly marine; a spy capable of disguising himself as the enemy; a sapper, your demolitions expert; a mechanic who can commandeer enemy vehicles; a master sniper; and even a seductive secret agent. New additions to the roster include a fleet-footed thief and an unlikely bull terrier whose barking can distract your foes. You'll also join forces with Allied troops whom you can control in many of the missions.
In the original Commandos game, each character had a limited, very specific set of skills--for example, only the Green Beret and the spy could actually move enemy victims' bodies so that other guards wouldn't see them, which made these two the key players in most missions. In Commandos 2, for the most part, each character has a wider variety of skills and is much more versatile--for example, most everyone can now move bodies out of sight. This gives you many more strategic options during play and, for better or worse, eliminates much of the puzzlelike feel of the original game's missions. The game's sole remaining puzzle element lies in the fact that you can't choose which commandos to bring into a mission and can't choose their starting equipment--you'll just have to make do with what you get.