Commando 3 Hands-On Preview

Capcom's classic arcade game is getting an update via Xbox Live Arcade and the PlayStation Network. We tooled up with the PlayStation 3 version in London.

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Capcom's Commando series started out all the way back in 1985, when it was released in the arcade and subsequently made the jump to the home computers of the day. Now, more than 20 years later, the latest game in the series is making its way to the arcade game's modern-day homes, namely Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network. The game was on show for the first time at Capcom's London Gamer's Day recently, and we wasted no time gunning our way to the PlayStation 3 to have a play.

Commando's characters are as subtle and understated as ever.
Commando's characters are as subtle and understated as ever.

Commando 3 takes the frantic action of the original game and wraps it in a slinky new 3D engine. Graphically, the game combines a retro look with some polished effects, as well as some nice explosions, destructible scenery, and great character design that really brings the game to life. It also packs a lot of action onscreen without succumbing to slowdown, which is an encouraging sign for the game's slated release this winter.

Commando 3 offers four playable characters and will support up to three players simultaneously onscreen. Each playable character has different attributes, such as strength or speed. For example, the marine "Animal" is a good all-rounder, while "Boomer" is slow but with better skills in explosives. There are multiple weapons on offer, from standard machine guns to futuristic laser weapons, while each character will have a limited reserve of explosives and M-Crash superbombs. The latter can clear the screen of enemies in one go, so it's one weapon that you'll want to keep for special occasions.

Jump in a jeep and get blasting, soldier!
Jump in a jeep and get blasting, soldier!

One of the coolest aspects of Commando 3 is the cooperative vehicle combat. One part of the demo that we played featured a tank, with one person handling the driving and the other manning the turret. No vehicle will last for very long in a game with such frantic nonstop action, but we liked the change of pace between the on-foot and vehicle sections. The jungle level we played also featured a river-based, log-riding section, which added to the on-foot and vehicle sections, as well as split up the action nicely.

Commando 3 was fun to play in multiplayer and certainly replicates the intense action of the top-down arcade shooters of yesteryear. We particularly liked the control system, which employed the left analog stick for movement and the right stick for controlling the direction of fire. We were limited to a two-player game at the London demo, but the full game will support three players both locally and online. There'll also be online leaderboards where people can track their scores against other commandos the world over. Finally, there'll be a musical score by Norihiko Hibino, the acclaimed composer of such Konami games as Metal Gear and Zone of the Enders.

Commando 3 is slated for a winter 2007 release, costing 800 Microsoft points on Xbox Live and $9.99 on the PlayStation Network.

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