Commandos Strike Force Updated Impressions - Single-Player, Multiplayer, and Sabotage!

We get the latest details on this new direction for the famed Commandos series at Eidos' fall press event.

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Even though we've seen Commandos Strike Force before, it's always a bit startling to see the game in action. That's because this isn't a Commandos game as you know it. Gone is the top-down strategy gameplay of the previous games, where you had to sneak elite commandos behind enemy lines to blow up and kill lots of Nazis. Strike Force is a first-person shooter, which represents a new direction for the series. Oh, you still get to do a lot of sneaking around and such, but now you get to experience all the action from a first-person perspective. Strike Force was at Eidos' fall press event, and we got another look at the game in progress.

Being a commando means never having to say you're sorry.
Being a commando means never having to say you're sorry.

While it is a shooter, Strike Force retains many of the same core concepts of the original Commandos games. You will have three playable characters in the game, each of whom has a special ability or talent. For example, the Green Beret is the all-around action character, and he can use heavy weapons, such as heavy machine guns and bazookas. Meanwhile, the sniper is the sharpshooter of the bunch, and when he looks through his scope he can hold his breath, which causes everything to slow down, allowing you to get an accurate shot. Yet perhaps the most intriguing of the characters is the spy, who can disguise himself to walk unnoticed in enemy compounds, as well as execute silent kills using his ever-useful garrote.

Strike Force will have 14 levels, though you'll only have access to up to two characters per level, and on some levels you may have to go solo with a single character. If you find yourself controlling two, you can switch instantly between them, and the computer will take control of the character you're not controlling directly. In the mission we saw, which takes place in Norway, one of the game's three settings (the others being France and Stalingrad), the Green Beret battled ashore into a small fishing village. Pinned down by German fire, the Eidos demonstrator switched to the sniper, still sitting on the boat tied up to the docks, and used the special sniping ability to neutralize the Germans firing from windows. Meanwhile, the computer had taken control of the Green Beret, and he stayed in place, engaging any Germans that came into his proximity. There were also other allies present in the form of non-player characters, and while you can't take direct control of them, they will play an important role in the missions. For example, you may need to make sure they don't take too many losses. But they can also assist you by providing extra firepower.

The spy promises to deliver much of the Commandos-style gameplay as we know it. Basically, the spy can sneak up behind someone, kill him silently (there are several different animations for when he garrotes someone), and then don the victim's uniform. This lets the spy walk around in the open in disguise. The trick is that the disguise works only on Germans of a lower rank. For instance, there are soldiers, officers, generals, and Gestapo agents. If you kill an officer and take his uniform, then you can walk among soldiers with no fear. However, if you encounter someone of a similar rank to that of your disguise, there is the possibility of drawing extra attention to yourself, which can blow your cover. If you run into someone of a higher rank, say a general, then your cover is instantly blown. And we imagine that the level designers will make sure there's always someone out there who can blow your cover.

The spy should provide some of the tensest moments in the game.
The spy should provide some of the tensest moments in the game.

The game will feature 16-player multiplayer, with deathmatch and team deathmatch modes. However, the most interesting mode is sabotage, which sounds really cool. Basically, it's a team mode in which both teams are attempting to get the codes to arm a bomb. However, to get the codes, one player on each team has to be a spy. You don't "kill" one another in this game; rather, if you shoot someone enough, that person will fall "injured" onto the battlefield. You then must have your spy "interrogate" the fallen player, which takes a small amount of time, which means that the rest of the team has to protect the spy while the interrogation is in process. Once the interrogation is finished, the spy will have a part of the code. Repeat the process enough, and you'll be able to detonate the bomb. Of course, keep in mind that the other team is trying to do the same thing to you.

Strike Force is being developed by Pyros, the Spanish developer responsible for all the earlier Commandos games, and it looks like it has adjusted to the new first-person graphics engine well. The PC version of the game, which we saw at the Eidos event, looks really good, and it doesn't have the look and feel of a multiplatform shooter. In fact, it looks like a fairly sharp PC shooter. That's good news for PC fans in particular. Strike Force is due to ship in spring 2006.

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