As a child, I was fascinated by warfare. Not the gore and loss of life, but the tactical nuance and meticulous planning for success. Consequently, whenever I could study classic battles or experience them in a computer game, I jumped at the opportunity. As such, when the Commandos franchise was released, I was swept up in its tough gameplay and precision mechanics. However, I haven’t looked at these games in years, until I was given Commandos 3 – HD Remaster to look at. This brutal title is available on Game Pass for Xbox and PC and allows a new generation to experience its tactical approach.
Developed by Raylight Games and published by Kalypso Media, this is a wartime strategy title. What’s more, it is historically accurate, horrendously tough, and requires pinpoint precision and a watchful eye. No matter how great you are at strategy games, this one will test you throughout. Accordingly, it can be frustrating and unfair and will cause many people to quit. However, I urge you to stay the course as the gameplay is fantastic even though it has some major game-breaking flaws.
Commandos 3 – HD Remaster explores some classic battles.
Set in World War II, you must control a crack force of soldiers as you push for victory. Stealth and guile are a must if you wish to complete every goal. You’ll sneak through the trenches of Stalingrad, defeat the Third Reich in Berlin, and survive the storming of Normandy on D-day. Your squad of 6 elite soldiers must sabotage enemy supply chains, kill key targets, hide in the shadows, and collect mission-critical intel. Failure to do any of these tasks will hinder the Allies’ progress and will potentially hand the Nazis the upper hand.
The developers have promised a revamped game that improves on the original. With reworked 3D models, improved textures, better controls, a redefined UI, user-friendly tutorials and hints, this promised to be a massive step forward. However, having played the original, I failed to see the difference. If anything, much of the gameplay has gone backwards with the use of a gamepad. Disappointingly, the controls and camera angle are appalling, and this impacts every other element. Yet, if you can somehow get past these issues, you’ll enjoy a slow and methodical stealth game that is rewarding and challenging.
The missions are tough.
With 6 specific roles to master, finding the right solution isn’t always easy. Do you use the spy to infiltrate the enemy’s defences, or blow up a truck with the sapper? Alternatively, the thief can steal goods and sneak about in the shadows for the ultimate stealth approach. Whatever decision you make, there are always consequences to be aware of.
If you kill someone, you can’t leave their body lying around. No, instead, you must drag them to a darkened corner, so the alarm doesn’t get raised. Alongside this, there are vehicles to hide in, buildings to infiltrate, and, of course, uniforms to swipe. Be aware, though, that each disguise has a limited effect and wearing it too long will raise suspicions. As such, you must plan when to walk into the open, or when to creep into the dark.
Now, this may sound slow and boring, but it isn’t. Whenever your plan is successful, the resulting victory is euphoric. There is genuinely no better feeling than completing a lengthy and arduous mission. This is enhanced further still, as any minor mistake will lead to failure. Therefore, you must scope out your enemy’s movement, study their field of view, and only move when necessary. Consider it a deadly game of chess. Accordingly, you must think many moves ahead and a mistake will lead to checkmate.
Story-driven missions add to the drama.
It would have been easy for the developers to create a cold and heartless game. Instead, each of the 6 specialists has a backstory that builds empathy towards them. The story-driven action is interesting while adding to the historic theme.
Alongside the great solo campaign is the opportunity to compete against friends. With lobbies of 2 to 8 players, you can take on Deathmatch and Capture the Flag modes. Now, this may not sound revolutionary or unique, but each lobby has a distinct set of victory conditions. Subsequently, it isn’t your run-of-the-mill online mode. Instead, it will test your tactical nuance and your flexibility in different scenarios.
Commandos 3 – HD Remaster looks great, but the camera is awful.
The promise of new 3D models and improved textures is noticeable. With a richer colour palette and easier-to-identify character models, it is undeniably easier to play. Furthermore, the excellent UI is intuitive, easy to navigate, and a vast improvement on the original. However, the camera angle is so awful that the game really suffers. I struggled to traverse each of the levels because the camera is so clunky. What’s more, the action doesn’t flow as the viewpoint cuts from one perspective to the next. This made it jarring and much tougher to plan ahead.
Alongside this, the audio is filled with irritating one-liners. The gruff and rough heroes love to mutter cheesy and unnecessary sayings, and it’ll drive you insane. If you decide to move half a foot, they comment. Grab a gun, they comment. Shoot someone or throw a grenade, you guessed it; they comment. Argh!!!! It’ll drive you crazy and ruins the immersive nature of the action.
A mouse and keyboard would improve it, no end.
Commandos 3 – HD Remaster and a gamepad = a rough and unappealing time. The controls are so cumbersome and sluggish that they will frustrate you. As a consequence, you’re likely to forget the excellent mission and wonderful tactical approach. Furthermore, it’ll lead to anger, frustration, and the game being removed from your hard drive. Disappointingly, the developers failed to port or improve the control system for this remastered version.
Every one of the shortcomings reduces its appeal considerably. As such, you will probably stop playing well before exploring its interesting and in-depth missions. I can’t see many console players giving it the time it needs, which is disappointing. I assume the PC version will fare better, but I can’t guarantee it.
Commandos 3 – HD Remaster should have been better.
It is with a heavy heart that I conclude this review. This fantastic franchise kept me entertained as a youngster but infuriates me beyond belief now. With many issues and shortcomings, it will only disappoint you. I can’t see how the developers can improve it and I don’t believe the problems will be rectified. As such, I won’t recommend you buy it. However, more information can be found here! A once great franchise has fallen by the wayside. If you are desperate to play this, perhaps a download on PC will make things better.