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Mac Game Review: Commandos 2 & 3 Battlepack

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This collection is two games from the popular, or so I am told, “Commandos Real Time Strategy Series.” There is no explanation anywhere why Feral decided to include only Commandos 2 and 3 of the series in this set. The omission of the first game does rather limits the attractiveness of this package.

The story is simple. You guide your men and women (must not be sexist right?) in a squad through a series of WWII scenarios ranging from London through to Berlin (in Commandos 3). You guide your squad via the main character, Tiny, through a series of missions to help the allies defeat the Germans. There are a variety of characters to help you in your tasks including a sniper, a thief and a demolition expert. You are assigned a grouping that is suitable to your needs or what you are expect to need.

On paper, this collection looked to be a good way to maximize your game play per dollar. In play however, there are lots of elements that just let this game down on so many levels. This situation is sad but common in these slapped together game sets.

Battle Pack suffers greatly for requiring the user to be “in the know.” The documentation is basic at best and useless at worst. The training levels are at best too short and at worst, in Commandos 2, utterly useless at teaching you the game. It is almost as if the creators of these games expect the player to have: played the first game in the series, and used a walk-though on the Internet. One of the plus sides of this game is that it has taken so much time to come to the Mac that there are plenty of guides online for the game. Expect to use them rather often. To say the learning curve is steep on these two games is an understatement.

If you enjoy dying many times (none of your sidekicks can die either), repeating the same scenario many times for minor mistakes, then this is the game for you. For most however, I suspect this will get tedious very quickly. This set is truly for fans of the series and not really for anyone else not a devotee of the original game.

As you might have guessed from what I have written so far, the Artificial Intelligence in this game is too often completely useless. An amusing example is that in the training mission of the second game, your sidekick blindly walks into incoming fire. You need to rush ahead of him (making his role useless) and kill all the baddies before he blindly walks into their range.

There are a few good things about this game. It is good for gamers on a budget who do not have a bleeding edge machine. The requirements for both games are reasonable and it is playable on most Macs running 10.2 or later. Commandos 2 requires 500 MHz CPU, 256 MB RAM and a 16 MB video card, while Commandos 3 requires slightly more with 867 MHz CPU, 256 MB of RAM and 32 MB video card. There is a lot of game play for the money here with both games, with the complexity, unforgiving learning curve and multitude of mission/bonus missions. It will take even the most experienced gamer a long time to play this game.

Visually, the game’s 2D 3rd person view can be hard to follow. It takes quite a while to figure out how to turn the game camera so you can see all you need to see. You can also focus in and out, however it does not give anywhere near as large an area when zoomed all the way out. The game has quite a few visual glitches (especially Commando 3) and there are game killing bugs in Commando 3 from Mission 5 onward. The game loads rather slowly, even on a machine with three times the required RAM.

I have to admit this set of games is the least fun and most frustrating set of games I have played for a very long time. Whether it’s the rubbish game play, useless documentation, training levels or bugs, this is not a set that I could recommend to anyone but a hard-core fan. At $40 on Amazon this game is less than a good value for your money. There are far better WWII games on the market and I suspect more to come. There are far better war and strategy games out there for the Mac these days. Skip this patently lackluster collection and find something decent.

Commandos: Battle Pack is a rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Blood, Violence.


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About Marty Dodge

  • Ken Edwards

    Marty – It seems you don’t really get the Commandos franchise. It is a hard as nails game, period. But it is very rewarding.

    Also you really did not go into detail of any of the two games.

    I personally like the series, and this DVD pack was, in my opinion, a great value.