Commandos First Strike E3 2005 Impressions

We get some behind-the-scenes impressions of this WWII FPS based on the Commandos series of games at E3 2005.

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Commandos: Strike Force is the latest entry in the mostly well-regarded Commandos series of games. Oddly enough, though, Strike Force isn't an isometric action strategy game; rather, it's a first-person shooter with some of the strategy elements of the Commandos titles thrown in for good measure. We had a chance to sit down with Inigo Vinos of SCi, who gave us a behind-closed-doors demonstration of the game.

Obviously, what the world really needs is another World War II first-person-shooting game; this much is undeniable. The proliferation of the subgenre is still ongoing, but First Strike does seem to bring some new features to the table that will hopefully set it apart from the crowd. The most noticeable of these is your ability to play as three characters: a Green Beret, a spy, and a sniper. Each of these characters has his own unique special abilities: the Green Beret can dual-wield weapons, such as a Thompson automatic rifle; the spy can perform silent kills with piano wire and steal enemy uniforms; and the sniper can hold his breath, which doesn't just steady his aim. Rather, when the sniper is zoomed in on enemies, holding his breath will let him enter bullet time and pop off multiple precise shots before his targets can react.

Although most missions will see you only bring one character in, some of them will allow you to control two characters, although not at the same time, of course. In one of the missions that was shown to us, the sniper and the Green Beret have to work together to defend a bridge that a squad of Germans are attempting to cross. The action began by having the sniper lay down antivehicle mines on the bridge, then heading up into a building overlooking the bridge to gain a better vantage point. The first wave of enemies, however, was dispatched by the Green Beret, who used his dual-wielding power to quickly mow down enemies. After the first wave went down, Inigo positioned the Green Beret behind a machine gun turret and hit a button to play as the sniper. While the Green Beret's AI allowed him to fire the turret, Inigo used the sniper's bullet-time capabilities to blast through most of the second wave of fighters.

Graphically, we found it hard to get too worked up about Commandos: First Strike, even on the Xbox version. We've seen so many snowy European towns in first-person shooters that it's getting to be pretty tough to make these games stand out from one another. That said, there was at least a consistent frame rate, and we can't say that the game actually looked bad. There were some elements, however, like the wimpy-looking smoke grenades, which could use some improvement. It just didn't have anything that really popped out at us as being a "Wow!" feature.

Commandos: Strike Force is on pace for a PC, Xbox, and PS2 release, and it is going to feature deathmatch and team deathmatch for eight players online (at least on the console versions), although there won't be any co-op. Stay tuned to GameSpot for more coverage of the game in the future.

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