Overhead shootin' in HD
This year, Capcom is gunning for nostalgia with the re-imagining and continuation of many of its classic franchises, such as 1942, Bionic Commando, Street Fighter, and of course, Commando. If you’ve never heard of the Commando franchise, it is essentially a traditional overhead shooter that controls similarly to Robotron. Commando 3, is not only the third iteration of the title, having been preceded by Mercs, but it is also the first to be made in almost 20 years. While the PS3 has a few of its original shooters, such as Super Stardust HD, it’s nice to have another one in the ranks in lieu of XBLA getting one of the kings of the genre, Ikaruga.
Wolf Of The Battlefield handles itself very well in the realm of combat, and is surprisingly smooth to control on the DualShock 3. The controls are very simple, and you only need to use two buttons outside of both analog sticks to move and shoot. There are four types of weapons, which include a machine gun, flamethrower, missile launcher, and spread shot. Also present are grenades, which are very useful for taking out squads of baddies. Other powerups include health packs to restore your life bar, lifeups to increase your health bar, medals to increase your score, and multiplier ups, which increase your score multiplier. Each character comes equipped with a super move called an M-Crash, which clears the screen in typical shoot ‘em up fashion.
The vehicles, unfortunately, don’t control nearly as well as everything else. They feel like a last-minute thing the team threw in just for the hell of it. It’s a real chore moving them to where you want them to be, and the sections themselves in which you use them are far too short due to the sheer speed of movement. You are not forced to use them, though, so you are able to merely walk the distance instead. As far as the level design goes, it seems competent, though almost a little generic. There are some short areas that feel boring, but overall the pacing is pretty well done. You can have up to 3 players online and offline, and the difficulty changes depending on how many players are playing. Overall it isn’t incredibly challenging, but it certainly has that old-school feel that some of today’s games are missing, such as easy to remember boss patterns or enemies that spawn infinitely.
As Capcom is experimenting with many different things in reviving titles, such as the newly designed sprites for Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix, they have chosen a more comic book-like art style that employs more vibrant colors and exaggerated features. I am highly disappointed with most of the in-game art, as well as the style itself, as it seems Backbone didn’t want to spend the time and effort to merely try and update the old style of Mercs, and just decided to style it in some sort of cartoony offshoot of generic action heroes. Although it is clear they are supposed to be parodies of ’80s action heroes more so than trying to be truly original characters, the style just looks cheesy. The characters Wolf, Coyote, and Fox make up the Jackals, the mercenary squad that you control. The Jackals’ objective is to defeat General Ratiev, the corrupt dictator of Zalestad. That’s about as much story as a game like this has, or really needs.
There really isn’t much else to say about the Wolf Of The Battlefield, other than it does what the team seems to have wanted it to do fairly well, if not a bit unimaginatively. It feels a bit short as well, and almost like there was more planned that wasn’t added in the end. Commando 3 is still very replayable, much like Contra or Shock Troopers, and the gameplay is enjoyable enough to overlook most issues. Still, it does seem as though more could be done with it for next time, and I’m hoping Capcom doesn’t disappoint.